Wednesday, August 05, 2009


I know this is going to torque a few of my readers, but it's just my opinion, and you are perfectly within reason to disagree.

I've been thinking about socialism lately, and I'm coming round to believe that it may actually be a good thing...

I was talking with a buddy while we were running the other day, and he made an interesting comment. He's one of those real right wing leaning, gun enthusiast type people, the kind I usually avoid political discussions with, but that aside.

He made the comment that he felt that capitalism, socialism and communism were all perfectly fine ways of running a country. The problem is when people get greedy and abuse the system to benefit themselves. We may not have agreed on who should have been voted in as president last year, but I wholeheartedly agree with him on that.

So... With that in mind, allow me to share a couple of ideas as to why I think Socialism would be a good direction for the US to head in. I do speak with some authority on this, since I spent some time in New Zealand, which is run on a socialist system - even though while there I thought socialism was 'The Devil'.

1 - Health care
It's the hot topic right now, so why not! Everyone in New Zealand has access to decent and affordable health care. It's not just emergency health care, it's everyday prevention type stuff too. The problem with only providing emergency health care is that generally by the time you think you need it, it often too late. A key argument against Universal Health care is that the US has the best health care in the world. Leaders from other countries come here for medical attention... But the question I would ask, is... At what price do we have the best health care? Price being the key word. It's all about money, and if you have a lot of it, you can afford the best. If you don't... Sucks to be you, I guess!

2 - Standard of Living
The thing I really like about New Zealand was the equality. While there were some who were rich, they were few and far between. But at the same time there weren't very many poor people either. Minimum wage is pretty high, and top wage earners don't make much more... Or if they do, they get taxed at a higher rate. It puts people on more of an even playing field. The main argument against this is the lack of motivation, but check out #3

3 - Quality of Life
I loved living in New Zealand, because of the Quality of Life. People care passionately about Rugby, Cricket and Beer. The pace of life is slower and people are very laid back. Part of this is cultural, but I think that culture has been impacted by the Socialist form of government. Money isn't the object for our existence, but it seems like in the United States, its become that. We want more, we want it now, and we want more that the other guy has. It's how we measure success. Money isn't the object of your existence in New Zealand, rather it would appear that life is.

During the election last year, many accused Mr. Obama of being a socialist. I think somehow Americans have it in their minds that socialism equals everyone is poor, wears drab clothing and has to stand in line for bread at the store. The thing is though, even though some of his ideas are definitely socialist, he ran with them as his platform, and as they say on American Idol... America voted.


  1. "Everyone in New Zealand has access to decent and affordable health care."

    Decent? Is decent good enough for your kids? Because with socialized health care, decent is about as good as you'll ever get.

    Last year my son had a medical condition that nearly caused his death. He lost an almost fatal amount of blood. It was only because of Life Flight and the expertise and top notch equipment at Primary Childrens Hospital that his life was spared.

    With decent health care, my son would be dead today. But our (yes, flawed) capitalist system created an environment that bred the best health care in the world. Notice I didn't say health care system. Best health care. Can you imagine what health care in the rest of the world would be like were it not for American innovation, fueled by capitalism? We can debate the "system," but socialism never has, and never will produce that type of health care.


    "It's all about money, and if you have a lot of it, you can afford the best. If you don't... Sucks to be you, I guess!"

    I don't have any money at all. In fact, I'm technically right at the poverty line. Yet as I have demonstrated above, I have access to the best health care. I also don't have very good health insurance, but of the $25,000 the incident with my son cost, I only ended up footing the bill for $2,000 or so. I'm not complaining.


    "The thing I really like about New Zealand was the equality."

    Is it really the government's job to create this equality? Exactly where in the Constitution is that line? Do you understand the gravity of handing government the power to "equalize?" It's great for poor people, but if you've worked your ass off to buy a decent house and save a penny or to be you, I guess!


    "People care passionately about Rugby, Cricket and Beer."

    Well good for New Zealand, but an overall view of world politics in the context of history shows that nations like New Zealand and its socialist sisters in Western Europe are only able to exist at status quo because the U.S. is what it is.

    Study hegemonic stability theory in international relations. That's the most solid of the major theories because of the empirical record.

    We (America) are (were) the innovators, the drive, the foundation for the rest of the world. Think of driving on a freeway during a snow storm. The best place to position yourself is right behind a big semi truck. It blazes the trail and takes the brunt of the wind and snow, while you in your little commuter car follow behind in relative safety.

    Places like New Zealand get to think about rugby, cricket, and beer because places like America are (were) taking care of the serious stuff.

    I appreciate your thoughtful analysis of these concepts and your openness to new things, but I really think you should study socialism and its empirical record (read: actual use, rather than theory), before endorsing it like this. There are many, many things you're failing to consider here.

  2. While I'm thinking about it, check out this message posted on yesterday (emphasis mine):

    "There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to"

    They're asking for snitches! Turn in dissenters. This blows me away. What is happening to my country?! Oh that's right- change. How can you still support this guy?

  3. Thanks for sharing the story about your son...

    If I may share one of my own... 3 years ago I was self-employed. I'm extremely healthy, as is my wife. Our kids are all very healthy as well. No regular medication, nothing at all in our history, aside from having lots of kids.

    A doctor ordered an EKG test on my wife some years ago to rule out something, which he did. Her heart is perfect.

    So being self employed and realizing the importance of insurance I applied... And was turned down, because my wife had an EKG - it was normal, but the the fact that she had it was enough to disqualify her from coverage.

    Not less than a week after that, she tripped while exercise and completely shattered her wrist. The first doctor we saw, told her that due to the nature of the injury, she would likely be crippled by arthritis within 2 years.

    Fortunately I was able to wipe out my retirement account and secure enough credit to get her a hand surgeon who was familiar with such injuries and get it taken care of.

    It took over a year to pay off the debt, and I had to return to working a full time job, instead of growing a small business.

    I don't argue that Capitalism has helped create great health care, but the fact remains that we live in a country where only those with insurance, or the very wealthy can get that health care.

    You and I are fortunate because we have insurance. But what about those who lack the skillset to get a job which offers insurance? What about the self-employed people who struggle to make ends meet, while contributing to our economy, and who get turned down, because the insurance company wants to turn an even bigger profit?

    I think the remainder of your comments come down to viewing things from a different perspective...

    For instance, you see the White House request to forward information as a way for them to seek out snitches, and I see a request for information so they can help dispel myths and rumors which are being spread by people who are basically just whores to the health care corporations.

    I'd much rather the request for information come this way, than through a warrantless wire tapping initiative...

  4. The context in which you mention warrantless wiretapping suggests you don't know much more about it than what Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and their ilk have repeated. I'm not going to go over it here, but study it out. It's not what you think it is.

    As to my other comments, do you you have any response to them aside from the different perspectives argument?

    You know I respect you, Koda, but you've got to understand my frustration. You have officially drank the Kool-Aid, and you're swallowing whatever Obama feeds you hook, line, and sinker. I'm starting to wonder if you're thinking objectively at all any more. Please don't take that as an insult, but it's my honest take.

  5. Perhaps I should have explained my warrantless wiretapping some more.

    The Bush administration claims to have implemented this practice to prevent terrorism. Which may well be true, but the problem was that it was being done without judicial oversight.

    Judicial oversight is a vital part of the checks and balances in Washington, put in place by the founding fathers.

    Without oversight, there is no way of telling how that program could have morphed. One minute you're tracking down terrorists, the next minute you're tapping into the oppositions phone lines to win elections, find out whose wife is having an affair, and it's a slippery slope from there.

    I have thought this through a great deal, and I've been digging and digging through the facts to find the truth. The problem with current news events and history, is that they are both influenced by individual biases.

    I can appreciate your perspective though, assuming that I have drunk the Kool Aid.

    Perhaps if I could ask... At one point you supported the Clinton Administration. At that time, what was your opinion on a Universal Healthcare Plan, and what was it that prompted you to switch sides, as it were?

  6. To be honest with you, my Lefty days were when I was I was young, healthy, and naive. I didn't give health care a second thought, but had I taken interest in it, I would have supported it, based upon the Clinton Admin's presentation of it.

    What prompted me to switch sides- at least on this issue- was experience in the real world and a personal interest bred by realities of life, which motivated me to look at it through the prisms of reality and history.

    I've also developed a healthy skepticism of governments through the years.

    My general tendencies toward conservatism come from a very simple understanding of human nature, collective human trends, and international relations theory. All, ironically, developed during my time in a liberal program at a liberal university. You might say I've thoroughly expelled the Kool-Aid from my system.

  7. If it were possible to find a completely objective observer (Which I don't think is possible), I think it might be interesting to delve more into both of out transformations.

    Reading yours was a lot like what I would say if asked about my transition from ultra conservative to the left leaning person I am today. It's been my observations of human nature and studies into philosophy, religion and a limited amount of politics. And then factor in different upbringings and foundations for thought...

    Very interesting indeed!

  8. Oh, and if I could share one more experience...

    I used to work for a department of the LDS Church as the Admin Assistant for a small IT Group.

    My manager was an interesting guy, came from an accounting background and was a brilliant programmer. Accounting + Geek = minimal social skills and perhaps not the worlds greatest manager.

    I worked a lot with a Tech support guy, who was very social. He however hated the manager.

    He took me under his wing as I started and filled the day with constant chatter about how awful the manager was.

    The image painted of the manager was a kingdom building, self serving moron, who followed orders like a robot and was completely incompetent and useless at his job.

    During this time, there was nothing the manager did that would have caused me to come to those conclusions, but gradually I saw it too.

    One day, the tech support guy, in an effort to really screw the manager over, threw me under the bus as well. It was a huge wake up call, and shook me back into reality.

    He was actually a very caring manager and cared deeply for each member of the team. So much so, that when both I and HR pointed out that this guy was destroying his team, he took him out to lunch and tried to work things out with him... Sadly it didn't work, and the tech guy managed to get him fired a year or two later.

    The lesson I learned from the story is this... Sometimes you hear so much hate from a specific source, that even though you might not initially agree, it gradually works it's way into your psychy.

    I know when I was listening to Rush, I could not understand how anyone in their right mind could support Bill Clinton without selling their soul to Satan and actively plotting to destroy the US.

    It's why I generally try and avoid any political commentator now - although I do watch the Daily Show and the Colbert report from time to time...

    I'm not sure if I even had a point to sharing that... Maybe just that sometimes, we get bombarded with so much hate and other complete BS by people promoting their own agendas (Both left and Right) that we unsuspectingly take some of it in....

  9. I agree. And that sucks about the manager.

    I think the key is to take as much a scientific approach to issues as possible, divorcing as much emotion and bias as possible from the analysis. As somebody who dabbles in computer programming, I try to look at things from that perspective.

    When I was a Clinton supporter, I of course hadn't sold my soul to Satan, but looking back, it's clear that my political views were couched mostly in emotion.

    That's not to say I have no bias. Though my biases are probably different than most people's. I have an overwhelming aversion to fads. My initial negative feelings toward Obama stem from his amazing popularity. Everybody and their dog practically worshipped him. Thus, I didn't.

    But my opposition to him evolved from an emotional type to a more scientific type. I saw him as a socialist at the beginning of the campaign. Having studied socialism, I knew what I saw. I also recognized that he was ashamed of his country, and that he had some deep issues with race.

    What drove me crazy was that the media, who were possibly more enamoured with him than the masses at that point, discounted all the signs. Ayers, Dorn, Wright-- all of that was important, and it's all playing out now. The news media was outright dishonest about Obama. And they're being outright dishonest about this health care bill.

    And they're the epitomy of unadulterated hipocrisy- fawning over liberal protests, defining dissent as the very essence of patriotism.

    Then their guy gets in office, and suddenly dissent is heresy. Suddenly anybody who voices their disagreement is crazy, 'fishy', and immoral.

    I think a scientific, "programmer" approach to Obama in general and the health care issue in particular is needed.

    But they don't want that. They want it done NOW. Without reading the bill, without debate. They want to fundamentally alter the very fabric of this country before anybody has time to think about it.

    It's the same principal when you go to buy a car. You need to buy it right then, right now. You can't afford to wait! No, you can't go home and sleep on it. They have to get you while you're emotionally charged, while you're still hypnotized by their spiel, before you have time to think it out rationally.

    Does none of this smell dirty to you? Does none of this make you stop and think the opposition isn't quite as nuts as you're convincing yourself they are?

  10. What Americans appear to label “socialism” is what Australians (and those in NZ) would probably be more likely to consider providing a socially-responsible safety net. Potatoes, Potatoes!

  11. Just as a by the by, not ALL of us care passionately about Rugby, Cricket and Beer, some of us even "take care of the serious stuff".

  12. My humblest apologies Ms. Mouse!! I should know better than to make generalizing statements like that.

    I think the problem is that the US has that safety net, but it's only really provided for a select class of people. I wonder if it could be called selective socialism?

    Then you have those that are privileged enough to have access to that, decrying the evils of it, and advocating capitalism for those that don't, aka Crony capitalism.

    Of course in reality it's far more complicated than that...

    From what I can tell, the issues are:

    Corporate interests control health care in the United States, and it's good business - really good business!!

    Corporate interests control many of the politicians in Washington.

    Mr. Obama promised a change in health care that would allow more people to have access to it.

    Of course such a plan threatens the corporations who are currently making obscene amounts of money from health care, so...

    We have a president who made a promise to make a change.

    If he doesn't make a change, the opposition are going to have a field day using that against him. Because it seems politics is more about dragging your opponent into the mud that about making a difference or doing the right thing for the right reasons - And BOTH SIDE ARE GUILTY OF THIS.

    A bill has been put together, that no-one really seems interested in actually reading, it's just about either party lines, or I would actually suspect, more about who pays for your campaign donations.

    The bill likely isn't the best solution out there.

    If the senate and congress could engage in honest and open debate, they could likely come up with something better.

    Unfortunately it's not about something better, it's about money.

    Which was kind of my whole underlying thought when it came to writing this post.

    It's all about the money!

    Why are we so obsessed with it?

    Why do we think money=success?

    Why are we prepared to kill in it's name?

    Why, why, why!

  13. When government takes over health care, it won't be a transfer of power/profit from corporate interests to public interests, it will be a transfer of power/profit from corporate interests the government doesn't like to corporate interests it does.

    Rich people will still find a way to buy the best health care, the currently uninsured will find that this utopian system ain't all it's cracked up to be. But the big difference will be efficiency and innovation, both of which will be stifled considerably by the lack of competition. Government doesn't have to earn a profit, has the built-in advantage, and does not have to prove its merit in order to keep customers.

    No competition, no innovation. That's why health care in nations with socialized medicine suck. One quick comparison to the U.S. vs. New Zealand- breast cancer is fatal to 25 percent of its American victims, as opposed to 46% of its New Zealand victims.

    Are you a senior kiwi with renal failure? Sucks to be you! According to New Zealand’s official guidelines, “In usual circumstances, people over age 75 should not be accepted.”

    Practical? Maybe. Humane? Not in my book. Up to 13% of Americans suffer from renal disease. A disproportionate percentage of this subset goes to African Americans and Mexicans. That general percentage increases every year, and the percentages for minorities (for African Americans they think it might be genetic) increase proportionately to it. How good would New Zealand's "decent but affordable" health care system sound to them?

  14. Alright then, what's your solution?

    You've got a nation with a significant portion of people who don't have insurance, and can't get it.

    You've got insurance companies and medical institutions who have "bought and paid for politicians" in Washington.

  15. 1- Make health insurance 100% portable (sever its relationship to your job)

    2- Implement total price transparency

    3- I'm not opposed to some sort of public insurance option, but it should have to compete on a level playing field with the private options. And nobody should be forced into it, as they would be with Obamacare (and if you doubt that claim, I'll be more than happy to provide you page number and paragraph for these stipulations in the bill nobody has read). This would create a "duel-payer" system, as opposed to the single-payer system Obama wants.

    That's not an exhaustive plan, but it's a start. And it can be done without raising taxes and with minimal government growth.

  16. DUAL-payer system, that is. DUELS probably wouldn't help the situation-- but they would make it more interesting:)

  17. If you wouldn't mind send me the page and paragraph - I definitely need to find out more about the plan itself.

    I like those ideas - it been kind of what I thought the plan was trying to implement anyway.

    How would you propose protecting people from an insurance carrier who drops them as soon as a serious condition is discovered, or those who can't get a plan due to pre-existing conditions?

  18. Page 16, lines 3-26: You lose your existing policy if you change jobs, coverage, or prices.

    So you can keep what you've got on condition that you stay at your current job forever and never change the terms of coverage. You can add dependents without disqualifying yourself (lines 17-20), but that's about it. Otherwise, you "opt in" to the government plan. So yeah, they're basically making it near impossible to keep your private insurance.

    If you read the pdf, you might also want to check out pages 29, 30, 42, 59, and 72, for starters.

    Oh, and another "incentive" to accept the gov. plan: Anybody who doesn’t’ have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income (page 167).

  19. Thanks! I'll check that out, educate myself, and then hopeful return with some constructive comments!

  20. Actually UK I was having a wee poke at your commenter, D. Sirmize, who appears to have the impression that we simple folk of the Southern Hemisphere owe our bumpkin, beer & football existence to the US and its taking care of the serious stuff on our behalf. An ever-so-slightly imperialist / paternalist attitude, oui?

  21. Oh, and my sight, my brother's life, my sister-in-law's life & Mr Brown's ability to walk, - all tickity boo, thanks to a Government-provided, free to us (and/or our parents) health care system.
    We hardly ever use it and have no trouble at all with the idea of our taxes going towards paying for the health care of others. Its called living in a caring, civilised society, not a raw, tooth & claw, couldn't give a shit about the less fortunate, they aren't getting my money, society.Our taxes pay for schools we will never use (no kids), roads all over the country we may never travel on, libraries we don't use (I'm a buy the book instead kind of person), Art Galleries and Museums all over the country we may never get to visit, and a social security system we hope we never have to access. And do we resent this? This handing over about 1/3 of our wages? No we don't care, because it's about contributing to the the society we live in, a society for everyone, not just the few.
    Right, rant over - cheers :)

  22. Precisely Ms. Mouse!!

    If I may touch on something which you raised, and Mr. Sirmize has touched on...

    First, the attitude of the United States towards other nations.

    When I first came over to the US, I was told that I would find a very different form of patriotism. Now granted, that came from someone who was so ashamed of his own country that he had likely never truly experienced patriotism, but I would agree that Americans love America a great deal.

    I think there are 2 parts to it though. There is the love of the ideals of freedom upon which this nation was founded. I don't believe they are solely the property of the US, but as one of the first nations to practice them and grow a successful society out of them, I believe that entitles us to some pride.

    The second part, is a new attitude which seems to have emerged that places the US on a pedestal above other nations. Past and present wrongs are overlooked in a rush to make sure the rest of the world knows we're better than them.

    I mean no disrespect to my fellow countrymen, or to the nation, but it's an arrogance and an attitude towards the rest of the world that causes problems. In many ways it similar to the reasons no one likes Mormons or Jews either. No self-respecting human likes being told that they just aren't the 'Chosen Ones'.

    The US has screwed up royally on a number of occasions. Vietnam and the current conflict in Iraq are just 2 of those. I think it takes a big person (or entity) to admit when they've screwed up. Mr. Obama has been trying to do this and unfortunately gets labeled as unpatriotic for doing so.

    "He's ashamed of this country!" "He hates America" and similar bullshit are completely baseless and untrue. He may not be the most honorable man - he's a politician for starters!! But seriously people... Actually in many ways this reminds me of my parents when they found out I was questioning my religion. Somehow the pursuit of truth got turned into "I hate them" and never want to see them again... Just because someone has different ideas to you, doesn't mean it's a personal attack, but I digress!!

    Back to the point I was making... as one example... The US history of slavery and more recently racial segregation is not something we should be proud of. It's something which I agree with both Mr. Obama and Rev. Wright on. It's something which is against our founding principles and should be denounced, and doing so is not unpatriotic, nor is it unAmerican. People who believe they're better than everyone else, just don't like stuff like that pointed out to them.

    Anyway, I went off on a tangent there...

    Bottom line is...

    Socialism when implemented properly provides a way to care for all men (and woman) within a country. It focuses more of the worth of the individual than on the acquisition of wealth. And admittedly, when pursuing this course, acquisition of excess wealth is made more difficult, but with that said, is our whole purpose on earth to try and depart this life with the largest bank balance?

    Capitalism focuses on acquisition of wealth and uses competitive forces to achieve that. While much good can come as a by-product of it, it's not without flaws. One night of TV with ads for class action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for releasing unsafe products should be enough to show that.

    Each system has positive aspects and negative aspects. Just as the new Healthcare reform in the US has positive aspects and negative aspects.

    I just don't think Socialism is the great Satan, that many Americans think it is. And ironically, many of those who believe it is, are more than happy to participate in the various socialist style programs which have been introduced in recent years.

    Nothing burns my butt more than hearing people on Social Security and Medicare whining about how Obama is trying to kill old people and take away our freedoms, while at the same time glorifying immoral conflicts which I and several generations down from me are footing the bill for.

  23. "while at the same time glorifying immoral conflicts which I and several generations down from me are footing the bill for."

    Do you realize what a fraction of our debt and deficit the damn Iraq war is? I don't have time to crunch the numbers right now, but compare the cost of Iraq to date with the debt we've racked up from about October '08 on, and with what this socialized health care plan will rack up on top of it. Iraq doesn't come close to comparing.


    "Actually UK I was having a wee poke at your commenter, D. Sirmize, who appears to have the impression that we simple folk of the Southern Hemisphere owe our bumpkin, beer & football existence to the US and its taking care of the serious stuff on our behalf. An ever-so-slightly imperialist / paternalist attitude, oui?"

    I think you 'simple folk' of the southern hemisphere are able to live a beer & football socialist existence because of current world political structure, in which a militarily and economically strong United States plays the major role.

    Imperialist attitude? No. Show me the imperialism? Paternalist attitude, sure. But when America stops being America (which is happening pretty damn quick), let's see how long the rest of the world holds up.

    I think this has to be looked at on the international level. This is bigger than just the U.S.

  24. Well, first of all... America stopped being America some time ago.

    Said Woodrow Wilson...

    We have restricted credit, we have restricted opportunity, we have controlled development, and we have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world--no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.

    He was speaking about the formation of the Federal Reserve Bank and those involved in that - an institution which retains power, even today.

    Looking at it all from a international perspective though... Corrupt wall street executives and bankers have managed to drive not only the US economy into the group, but take the global economy down with us.

    Moving on though...

    If the Iraqi War is merely a fraction of the deficit, then surely the health care plan is as well.

    If I may compare...

    The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the total cost of the war of terror will be about 2.4 trillion dollars by 2017.

    But the problem with the war, is that it goes far further than that.

    4648 coalition troops have been killed in Iraq so far, and of those 4330 were American Citizens. Men and women with families in the prime of their lives killed because Bush wanted war.

    Over 30,000 troops who have been wounded on the battle field. Perhaps many would rather be dead with injuries ranging from bullet wounds, blown off limbs and no doubt trauma that will be with them for the rest of their lives.

    And lets not discount the mental impact of war. How many veterans will be fighting the demons of war for years to come after seeing friends blown up and being shot at. My father in law was involved in the Korean War and still to this day has nightmares. And yet North Korea remains a problem.

    For the Iraqi citizens, estimates are between 92,000 and 102,000 deaths as a result of the conflict.

    You're right, we can't really compare these.

    Expenses since October last year... Lets see President Bush, a Republican, rushed through a bail out bill and signed it into law as quickly as he could for $700 billion to the banks and wall street investment firms. Many of these used the money to pay excessive bonuses. I can't give you numbers, because there was NO ACCOUNTABILITY of how the money was spent. All I heard was outrage that the government had the audacity to suggest that Executive pay have limits attached.

    I'm sure many of these execs were Bush's buddies and I'm sure in years to come, many favors will be returned to Bush, Cheney and the other congressman and senators who pushed this legislation through. But that's just my opinion and not documented fact.

    I'm not excusing the Obama administration from this as well. I don't think any banks should have been bailed out. But to their credit, at least the Obama plan sought accountability, and also factored in ways to provide a bail out for citizens other than the Executives of Firms that killed the economy.

    The health care bill will cost a lot of money, yes, and it definitely could use some adjustments, but the attempt is to help provide coverage to millions of Americans who can't afford decent health care. Yes, it's easy to talk about how great the Health Care in America is, but you and I have medical insurance, so we have access to the best Medical Care in the world. Many don't.

    Yes, it's not perfect, but you compare blowing up billions of dollars and killing hundreds of thousands of people, to an attempt to help more people live healthier lives, and well... you can't really compare the two.

  25. "The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the total cost of the war of terror will be about 2.4 trillion dollars by 2017."

    So how much of that went/is going toward the Iraq war. Would you not agree with Obama that Afghanistan was both moral and necessary? Ok then, take that out of the equation. If we narrow the immorality down to Iraq, what are the numbers then?

    And what does the Congressional Budget Office say about Obamacare costs? 1.6 trillion. Factor in the deficit (which grew by 181 billion just in July- most of that bailout/stimulus)and the debt (Geithner just asked to lift the debt cap), and yeah, Iraq is a drop in the bucket.

    And I'm not comparing morals. You made an argument couched strictly in financial terms ("footing the bill" for conflicts). My rebuttal was couched in those same terms.

    Morally, I don't disagree with you, so I'm not going to argue it.

  26. "'He's ashamed of this country!' 'He hates America' and similar bullshit are completely baseless and untrue. He may not be the most honorable man - he's a politician for starters!! But seriously people... Actually in many ways this reminds me of my parents when they found out I was questioning my religion. Somehow the pursuit of truth got turned into "I hate them" and never want to see them again... Just because someone has different ideas to you, doesn't mean it's a personal attack, but I digress!!"

    I actually believe Obama is ashamed of this country. I listen to him talk about it, and I detect no emotional tie, no respect, heart-felt appreciation for what this country has given him. No, I can't read his mind and only God knows his heart, but if you ask me that question based on my observations, that's my answer. I believe Rev. Wright hates this country, and I refuse to believe that none of that rubbed off onto Obama during two decades in his pews. At least Michelle makes no bones about it ("first time in my life I've been proud of this country").

    I wouldn't say Obama hates this country, per se. But I do think he hates capitalism and I do think he resents most cultural foundations we're built on. At least that's the vibe I get.

    But let me qualify that using you as an example. I don't think you hate the LDS Church, and I know you still appreciate many aspects of it. But on this blog you seem laser focused on two things: How despicable the conservative movement is and how oppressive the church is. Your tone drips with resentment, vengeance, and hostility.

    I think Obama feels the same way about this country as you feel about the LDS Church. Think about that.

  27. I'm kinda of surprised at your assumptions of Mr. Obama, Michelle Obama and Rev Wright, without citing any evidence... Well except for 1 line by Michelle Obama. But if you take that line as evidence, you can't keep defending Sarah Pallin for dumb comments like the 'Country of Africa' and her complete inability to name just one paper which she reads to get her news.

    I have listened to a number of Rev Wrights sermons, and while I find him to be a rather excitable and dynamic speaker, I've never heard anything anti-American - but of course that depends what you mean by anti-American. He doesn't like our rich cultural history of slavery, racial discrimination or meddling in affairs which have we have no business meddling in. So if civil rights and equality are un-American I should probably renounce my citizenship...

    But I happen to agree with reverend Wright. I love the values on which the United States was formed, but we departed far from those a long time ago.

    As for me and the LDS Church, again, you're assuming things without citing any evidence.

    If you truly knew how I felt about the LDS Church, you wouldn't be throwing out comments about Obama feeling the same way, because if he did he would likely be living elsewhere in the world. I don't hate the LDS Church per say, so you were right there. I feel betrayed because I've been lied to for pretty much my entire life - whether intentionally or not. Right now, I would rather be as far from it as I can. Why waste my time trying to change something I can't?

    Mr Obama may hate capitalism, but you hate socialism - big deal - they're two different philosophies of governing a country both with long lists of pro's and con's. My post was merely to highlight some of the pro's to that philosophy.

    Unlike past Republican candidates, Mr. Obama didn't hide any of his socialist policies or idea's when he was running. Despite Glenn, Rush and all the other right-wing fear-mongers who continuously talked about him being a socialist and not a natural born American (Seriously people?!?), the vast majority of people voted for him.

    As for the Iraqi war, I wasn't making it purely a financial comparison - that was the point... the bill for the war is not just a financial thing, it's measured in the lives of men, women and children, both our own and those of other nations.

    The problem with Capitalism is that for some reason it appears to convert human lives into dollars and cents. You can have acceptable losses to further your agenda, and if people can't afford health-care, it doesn't matter, as long as you can. It appears to be all about me and what can I get, and less about my fellow man.

    The estimated cost of the Iraq war alone according to the CBO is 1.9 trillion. Significantly more than approx $500 billion spent in Afghanistan, which is a war which has some justification.

    As for the morality of the war in Afghanistan... I'm still researching this. There would appear to be a number of things which the American people have not been told, or which have been hidden.

    The problem is when you discuss these things, instantly people use the word 'Conspiracy Theory' and instantly anything is dismissed as being the product of some wackos mind. I want to be sure of them, before I make a judgement.

  28. "I'm kinda of surprised at your assumptions of Mr. Obama, Michelle Obama and Rev Wright, without citing any evidence... "

    You shouldn't be. I made it very clear that they are assumptions based on observation and gut feeling. I have no evidence at all. When I claim fact I cite evidence. When I make an observation I do not. And I make the distinction very clear.

    Are you really telling me that you don't detect the slightest bit of hostility in Wright's tone? Really? You seem to be able to detect the hatred in people like Rush or Beck. Yeah, they're just fearmongering pillars of hate. But Wright's tone is completely benign?


    "If you truly knew how I felt about the LDS Church, you wouldn't be throwing out comments about Obama feeling the same way, because if he did he would likely be living elsewhere in the world."

    Again, I'm assuming, which I'm allowed to do, as long as I make the distinction. I detect much hostility in your tone when it comes to the church, and the statement above seems to lend credence to my observation.

    I don't think Obama would live anywhere else in the world no matter how ashamed he is of this country. He knows, deep down, that even though our past is wrought with transgression, only someplace like America would work so hard to transcend those mistakes to the point of overwhelmingly and enthusiastically electing a black man to the most powerful post in the world.

    He also sees the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform this country from something he loathes into a socialist utopia.

    You say you want to be sure of things before you make judgments. That's great. But unless you're simply assuming all these great things about socialism, it seems you're making premature judgments.

    See, I think I'm done citing facts in this thread, because they're not being addressed by anybody. So perhaps assumptions will work. Perhaps playing less to logic and more to emotion is the only way to get anything out of this.

    I'm aware that my delivery tends to polarize and hit nerves. And my comparison of your feelings about the church and Obama's about America might have best been made in a personal email. I was simply trying to convey my feelings about Obama in a way you would intimately understand. I hope you understood that I meant no personal offense. I don't have a problem with you at all, even if you make me want to bash my head against a cinderblock wall:)

  29. No offense taken... My feelings about the LDS Church are still kind of mixed. I keep my mouth shut around other Mormons, and this blog is one of the few outlets I have, so it gets several days of build up crammed into one post. I'm not embarrassed about it, but still not totally ready to "Come out" as it were.

    I think the problem with this and any other polarizing type issue is that we have a tendency to find the good points in the side we feel drawn to, and compare them against the bad points from the other side.

    As always you make me think through my side clearly and examine it from multiple angles. Which while I may never agree with you, I do appreciate...

  30. You know, I could weigh in, note I'd risk finding out what the world would be like without the US Sheriff standing over us, but I don't think anything I can say would change Mr/Ms Sirmize's mind, so there's no point.
    It would go on though, you know, the world, it would go on just fine. Different, but fine.

  31. Right you are Ms. Mouse!

    It's Mr. Sirmize (just so you know).

    And herein lies the problem with politics, religion and everything else which cannot be soundly based on scientific fact. People are left to form their own opinions (or get manipulated by those who appear to be more knowledgeable or powerful), start to rely on those opinions as fact, and get overly emotionally attached to them.

    Of course in inferring that about Mr. Sirmize, I fully admit the same has likely occurred with me. Not sure if anything at all could be said to sway my mind either!

  32. "You know, I could weigh in, note I'd risk finding out what the world would be like without the US Sheriff standing over us, but I don't think anything I can say would change Mr/Ms Sirmize's mind, so there's no point."

    Actually, I'm quite open to new ideas. I just like the person I'm debating to make sound arguments and be able to back them up well. You like socialism. I get it. But heaven forbid I suggest that you look at the broader global picture.


    "People are left to form their own opinions (or get manipulated by those who appear to be more knowledgeable or powerful)..."

    I don't know if you're inferring that I try to appeaar more knowlegable and powerful than others, but I'll clarify anyway. I only dabble in politics, but when an argument is made on a blog on a topic I feel particulary versed in, I am obligated to set the record straight. If other commenters decide to throw their hats in the ring, they should be ready to have an intellectual conversation. I generally don't weigh in on topics I don't know anything about. And when I do, I make sure everybody knows I'm only making assumptions.

    I don't know what you mean by 'powerful.' If you're alluding to my comments about world politics and America's parental role, I'm sorry, but get over it. The facts bear it out. Logic bears it out. It doesn't mean I'm some imperialistic freak. I realize that America is committing suicide right now, and that China will soon take our place on the world stage. At some point China will fill that parental role. I think that will suck for everybody, but it's happening.

    Hey, maybe then we won't have to stress out about destabilizing the world's economy. Maybe then us little Americans will be free to focus on beer and football.

    I think part of the problem with online debate is that textual conversation lacks the element of nuance that personal communication conveys. People can give and take offense very easily online. Perhaps people who don't want robust debate shouldn't post their opinions online in blog form, which by nature and programming is a forum inviting feedback and debate.

    Maybe people who want robust debate should try to better detect when somebody doesn't really want it.

    Please don't take my honest attempts at making a sound argument as trying to sound superior and dupe you into believing me. I'd like you to give my points some honest thought, since I never post anything I haven't thought hard about. But anybody who would accept my posts as gospel is an idiot.

  33. Whoa!! Wait a second... The Mouse just pointed out that Americans seem to have a rather arrogant attitude, that somehow we're better than the rest of the world, and for some unknown reason we think that we need to play the parental / disciplinary role.

    From the perspective of a foreign country, that attitude comes across as extremely condescending especially in light of the Iraqi war and us crashing the global economy with our debt problems.

    It's like when a Primerica nutjob tries to convince me to use him as a financial adviser, and uses the argument that he's had 3 bankruptcies and 2 divorces over financial problems, but now he understands money, so I should listen to him. And then has the audacity to call me an idiot for not wanting to buy into his scheme.

    I tend to think Australia could likely be a world super power, but they don't. They're willing to help out when they feel morally obligated (hence many Australian soldiers have given their lives as well). Generally though they just keep their noses out of everyone else's business - kind of the way the founding fathers wanted the United States run, but like I said before - that America has been dead for a long time.

    Secondly, in retrospect I could have worded it differently, but I wasn't referring to you in my comments about those who listen to those who are more powerful. Mrs Koda spent yesterday listening to relatives of hers mainlining Hannity and Beck, and then telling her over and over again how Obama is trying to kill all the old people. It's especially ironic, since they're supported wholly by social security and medicare, but that's a whole other debate right there.

    My point was... You, Me and the Mouse have strong opinions about politics and international policies. It's not a science and so there is no real concrete evidence to support any of our opinions. We can talk in generalizations and talk about our personal experiences and observations, but there are so many variables with all of these things, that much of it is left to opinion.

    You accept your opinion as fact and defend it strongly, as do I. I think we're both willing to consider the other persons point of view, but at the end of the day, they're just different opinions. That's all I was saying. No personal attacks, no inference that you don't think for yourself, just acknowledgment, that neither of us is likely to change the others opinion on these matters.

  34. Agreed.

    I have a proposal though. I find that while I try to read both sides of each issue, I tend to favor sources that will support my point of view. Likewise, you talk to plenty of people that listen to talk radio, but you don't mention listening to it actively yourself.

    So here's the deal. Find me a source- somebody or some outlet that you tend to trust when it comes to certain issues. I'll check it out thoroughly, even if that means putting other sources on the backburner.

    I'll recommend my source (and when I say source, I don't mean sole source of thought- just an outlet that I tend to trust) and you can check it out thoroughly. Neither of us has to change their minds, but at least we can be confident that the other has honestly considered the alternative.

  35. Me too! And then when I find something that opposes my point of view, I instantly find ways to discount it subconsciously.

    I don't really have a source I use that much...

    I read, and fairly regularly.

    I also watch a fair amount of Comedy Central - The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. They do lean left, but I think they generally do a better job of trying to show both sides than most other outlets, and having a laugh isn't a bad thing either

    Other than that... I have tuned in to Beck and Hannity a couple of times in the last few months, but it seems like everytime I do, either host is having a meltdown about something or other, and screaming and yelling.

    My path from right wing, ditto-head nut job to where I am now, actually began with religion. I witnessed some things and had a couple of things shown to me, and they put me in a tailspin for a couple of weeks. One guy I spoke with about it described my situation and the feeling as similar to being hung upside down by my testicles.

    With my religious paradigm shot to pieces by that, it was a lot easier to start seeing through the BS in politics.

    I generally try and get information from a variety of sources and then try and work through it myself to reach a conclusion.

    For a while there I was so plugged in to Rush and Hannity that I wasn't thinking for myself. Every day it was like a drug I needed to get to feed the fear. Because of that, I'm very wary about listening to or watching political commentators.

  36. UK, thanks for standing up for moi - I think your friend may have called me an idiot, but I'm too tired to read it all to be sure.
    Should you happen to be in New York in early September (unlikely I know, but still) ping me an email, we could have a wee former-colonial blogmeet :)

  37. No, I think Mr. Sirmize called pretty much my entire extended family, and every other talk radio junkie I know idiots, but not you. I think his issue with you, was your suggestion that the world would continue without the US intervening everywhere... and his assumption that thereby you are unwilling to consider the global implications of US Superiority...

    I wish I could be in New York in September - I think it would be a blast to meet up with you and Mr. Brown. Are you only hitting New York, or will you be stopping on the West Coast as well - I'm about 12 hours drive from the West Coast - land of Gerli and whatnot, but I think I'm at least a couple of days from New York at the least. I've never actually been further East than Colorado.

  38. Ah, well that's alright then ;)
    We are in San Francisco for a few days (midweek I'm afraid). Originally we were going to catch up with CAW, who, on hearing of our plans, promptly ran off back to Queensland.