Commentary: Anger Arises From All Forms of Ignorance

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tea-party-signs_-_EXEvery so often a letter to the editor comes along that so perfectly illustrates a point.  I found one in the Daily Democrat from Tuesday entitled, “Liberal Press Doesn’t Understand Tea Party.”  This ought to be good, I thought.

Writes Jim Hanney from Woodland, “Those of you in the liberal press, and the Daily Democrat has never made a secret about being just that, have often expressed a lack of understanding about what the Tea Party movement represents.”

I will have to make a note of the fact that the Woodland Daily Democrat is a liberal paper.

Mr. Hanney continues, “We are often accused of being nothing more than Republican Party lackeys whose primary interest is getting ultra-conservative fringe candidates elected. While nothing could be further from the truth, which even the smallest effort researching the Tea Party would establish, the liberals find that position comfortable so they do nothing to dispel it.”

Finally he gets to the point.  “But a recent front page article in The Democrat illustrated for your readers – far better than anything I could present – what it is that drives Tea Party members into the streets,” he writes.

Seems he has a problem with our friend Fraser Shilling.

“You reported that Fraser Shilling, co-director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center, has created an online map of California where people can enter the location and description of any road kill they see smashed on the state’s highways and byways,” Mr. Hanney writes.

He continues, “This study, probably federally funded, is being conducted in a California University that has seen massive cuts to its budget. The university claims that it is struggling to provide even basic services to undergraduates. But then they have on their staff a man who studies road kill? That is what makes Tea Party members angry, among many other equally ludicrous actions of our state government.”

He then makes a snarky and inappropriate comment in closing.

Why do we care about this letter?  Because it really illustrates what I have found to be true in my last four years of writing this.  People fundamentally do not understand the difference between monies, revenue streams, one time funding, and frankly the importance of research.

Let us start at the top.  Not all money is the same.  This may be one of the most difficult concepts for people to grasp, but it is true.

A few weeks ago, it was reported that UC Davis has set new records for research money at the very time it was raising fees for students, furloughing and laying off faculty.  Unfortunately, the research money comes in the form of grants that can only be used for very very specific purposes.  It cannot generally be put into the general fund and used for salaries and normal operations in a university.

To make matters worse, most of it is one-time money, it is not going to sustain itself.  So it is not going to allow the university to fund itself on an ongoing basis, even if it could be used for general spending purposes – which it cannot.

Right there is a huge misunderstanding.  Not all monies are the same.

The second problem here is Mr. Hanney disparages the research of Fraser Shilling.  That is certainly his right.

UC Davis had a press release where Mr. Shilling explained the importance of this work.

“Thousands of animals are killed on California’s roads every day, including endangered species. This is a threat to the state’s natural legacy and, for some species, their very existence,” said Shilling, a staff research associate and co-director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center.

To collect data that could help transportation planners and conservation managers design more wildlife-friendly roads, Shilling and colleagues created a website where anyone can quickly record roadkill observations.

Now, perhaps to Mr. Hanney this is not worthy of grant money.  But in fact, as far as I can tell, if Mr. Hanney had actually read the article, he would have noted that there is no grant money involved.

“The work to date has been done on a shoestring: Shilling and his colleagues have donated about $20,000 worth of time to the California website. They are using university computing and Web resources. Maine Audubon is funding the cost of the Maine website.”

Maine Audubon is likely operating on private donations.

So Mr. Hanney did not read the article very carefully  and jumped to conclusions.

But let us suppose he was right, that this project received grant money, would that be a problem?

Universities like UC Davis are researched-based.  That means that the professors come to this university to do research.  That is what makes this a world-class university.

Without grant money, research cannot be adequately performed.  And so if the professors had no access to grant money, they would not come to the university.

So Mr. Hanney writes, “The university claims that it is struggling to provide even basic services to undergraduates. But then they have on their staff a man who studies road kill? That is what makes Tea Party members angry, among many other equally ludicrous actions of our state government.”

If this is what makes Tea Party members angry, then they are getting angry about things they appear to not fully to understand. If the university did not conduct this kind of research, then the university would not be attracting top-notch researchers.  It is that simple.  And without that, there would be no university.

It is not for Mr. Hanney and his Tea Party cohorts to decide and determine what kind of research gets performed, especially when he likely lacks an appreciation of the importance of much of the work, either to the field or to society as a whole.

To me this illustrates the problem not with government, but with Tea Partiers.  They are rebels without a cause.  They are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, but they lack an understanding of what they are mad about.

The problems that we face have nothing to do with the fact that UC Davis uses grant money to fund research.  Without this research, we would not have a higher public education system that has been second to none in the world and that people from across the globe still come to utilize.

So it is an ironic letter that Mr. Hanney writes, when he becomes angry after making an assumption that a project was funded by grant money. That assumption proved to be wrong and to be a misunderstanding about how monies work and about the importance of research.  If that’s the basis of the Tea Party movement, then that explains a lot.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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116 thoughts on “Commentary: Anger Arises From All Forms of Ignorance”

  1. rusty49

    “To me this illustrates the problem not with government but with Tea Partiers. They are rebels without a cause. They are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, but they lack an understanding of what they are mad about.”

    Unbelievable, you take one letter from one solitary member of the Tea Party and make this broad leap. You and your Democrat buddies are really searching hard for anything that you can find to denegrate them, it’s pretty sad.

  2. itsme

    The first line of the piece: “Every so often, a letter to the editor comes along that so perfectly illustrates a point.”

    Rusty, you illustrate the point that you don’t understand what you read. Not to make a “broad leap,” but your lack of comprehension is illustrative of the Tea Party, whose opinions show a profound lack of knowledge. If they read, they don’t understand. Pallin,the Barbie Doll of the Tea Party is a case in point. We saw her ignorance and her “un-curiousity” (where have we heard that word before?) on her VP campaign. Just recall that Jane Pauley interview. Now McDonnell can only speak on Fox; she embarrasses herself everytime she opens her mouth. It’s bad enough to have these nuts in the news, but the really scary part is that there are voters who don’t know nonsense when they see it.

  3. biddlin

    Rusty, my problem with Tea Partiers is that every one I’ve met is a spoiled, ignorant, anti-tax whiner. While they chant the venerable party line about tax and spend liberals, they fail to note that their proponents in congress merely spend, without budgeting or taxing, but then how does one budget for a never ending war. The Whitman/Palin wing of the GOP is intellectually bankrupt and can only resort to inflammatory propaganda to prop up their cause. What we all need are leaders who offer solutions, not hate mongering anarchists.

  4. wdf1

    Hanney:The university claims that it is struggling to provide even basic services to undergraduates. But then they have on their staff a man who studies road kill?

    It seems that Hanney is inclined to denegrate the research mission of the UC system. If it’s a problem that the UC system does research when others feel it should focus more on basic services to undergraduates, then should we just let China and other countries lure away researchers from the U.S.? We’ve already become unable to compete with them in many areas of manufacturing.

    Booming China Lures Key Professors Home From US
    [url]http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/booming-china-lures-science-and-technology-professors-home-from-us/19634851[/url]

    I don’t think future measures of global power will be as much about military power, but more about economic power and investment in human capital to grow that economy. I don’t think there’s enough political will in the U.S. (at least California) to invest adequately in human capital right now.

    I would also point out that sometimes seemingly innocuous and seemingly ridiculous research ends up having much greater importance later on. For instance, I could see this kind of research as having some basis in forensic studies in, say, a hit and run case in which the victim is killed. What’s wrong with that?

  5. Don Shor

    There has been an anti-intellectual strain to every conservative third-party movement I can remember. George Wallace railed against “pointy-headed intellectuals.” And criticizing specific research grants has been standard fare for conservative Republicans for years. John McCain’s stump speech throughout the 2008 presidential race always included a reference to a study of bear DNA; apparently he couldn’t see the value in such studies. Criticizing university researchers is a simple way of appealing to anti-elitist beliefs.

    However, I don’t think this is the only distinguishing characteristic of this nebulous Tea Party movement. The consistent themes are opposition to big government, concerns about deficits, anger about TARP and the GM bailout, and strong opposition to the health care/insurance reform bill. Clearly most of the Tea Party folks are social conservatives; a lot are libertarians. There are inherent contradictions within the movement, and what little leadership they have all seems to be coming from the far right of the Republican party.

    Public opinion polls show that on most issues those who consider themselves Tea Party supporters are far to the right of the views of the American public overall. In my opinion this protest movement will do significant harm to the Republican Party over the next few years, much as the Democratic Party wandered in the political wilderness during the 1970’s after lurching hard to the left.

  6. rusty49

    “In my opinion this protest movement will do significant harm to the Republican Party over the next few years, much as the Democratic Party wandered in the political wilderness during the 1970’s after lurching hard to the left.”

    Don’t you think the Democratic Party is lurching far to the left today? Look at the polls, there’s already been much harm done to the party.

  7. Dr. Wu

    [quote]In my opinion this protest movement will do significant harm to the Republican Party over the next few years, much as the Democratic Party wandered in the political wilderness during the 1970’s after lurching hard to the left.[/quote]

    Possibly true but will the democrats benefit? I share the outrage at the joke that our government has become at all levels and I respect those with a libertarian streak even if I ultimately disagree (somewhat). But I find the no-nothing anti-intellectual side of the tea party repulsive. I don’t know how any of this plays out other than more gridlock and frustration.

  8. rusty49

    It’s always funny to me how many on the left always feel they’re so intellectually superior to the right. Did it ever occur to some of you elitists that maybe the right feels the same way about many of you?

  9. Dr. Wu

    [quote]Did it ever occur to some of you elitists that maybe the right feels the same way about many of you?[/quote]

    Now who is generalizing? Not all of us are lefties, though I may be an elitist (aren’t we all?)

    I don’t think everyone on the right is dumb (and I don’t recall that term being used–anti-intellectual is not the same as dumb). For example, Pat Buchanan, mentioned above, is very bright; so is Newt. But the game on the right at the moment is to denigrate intellectuals as part of the Ivy league elitist establishment.

  10. wdf1

    It’s always funny to me how many on the left always feel they’re so intellectually superior to the right. Did it ever occur to some of you elitists that maybe the right feels the same way about many of you?

    Rusty, wouldn’t it be more productive to debate the substance rather than engage in calling the other ‘dumb’ or ‘snob’? Or would you argue that there’s nothing to debate?

  11. rusty49

    wdf1, funny you should confront me now after many on here have called the Tea Party ignorant, spoiled, whiney, know nothing anti intellectuals, intellectually bankrupt, nuts…….Should I go on?

    Where were you then?

  12. rusty49

    It’s not hard people, the Tea Party is for fiscal responsibility, following the Constitution, free markets, and less government. Shouldn’t we all for those things?

  13. wdf1

    It’s not hard people, the Tea Party is for fiscal responsibility, following the Constitution, free markets, and less government. Shouldn’t we all for those things?

    What’s the Tea Party position on immigration?

    Follow which parts of the Constitution? The whole thing?

    Repeal the entire recent healthcare bill?

  14. rusty49

    Secure borders, legal immigration, enforcing the Federal immigration laws already on the books.

    Repeal of of healthcare bill, latest poll shows 61% of Americans against Obamacare.

  15. rusty49

    You know what, I’m not a Tea Party member but I do agree with most of what they’re putting out there. I know that this current Administration is going to put us in a hole that we’re never going to crawl out of, so if it takes the Tea Party to right things then I’m all for it. November 2 should be fun, I know all you liberals are dreading that day.

  16. wdf1

    Repeal of of healthcare bill, latest poll shows 61% of Americans against Obamacare.

    That’s too bad. I rather like having my kids covered until 26. There were times at that age that I would have appreciated being covered.

  17. rusty49

    “That’s too bad. I rather like having my kids covered until 26. There were times at that age that I would have appreciated being covered.”

    That’s going to come in handy for alot of kids because they’re going to have a hard time finding a job in Obama’s economy.

  18. Don Shor

    rusty: “Secure borders, legal immigration, enforcing the Federal immigration laws already on the books.”

    Just curious, which tea party group do you find that at? I haven’t found any consistent positions on anything except fiscal issues, but I haven’t checked all the different groups out there that are loosely aligned under the tea party name.

  19. wdf1

    It’s not hard people, the Tea Party is for fiscal responsibility, following the Constitution

    Does this include following the 14th Ammendment? Specifically

    [quote]All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. [/quote]

    And the 16th Ammendment?

    [quote]The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.[/quote]

    Just wondering.

  20. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “”You reported that Fraser Shilling, co-director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center, has created an online map of California where people can enter the location and description of any road kill they see smashed on the state’s highways and byways,” Mr. Hanney writes.
    He continues, “This study, probably federally funded, is being conducted in a California University that has seen massive cuts to its budget. The university claims that it is struggling to provide even basic services to undergraduates. But then they have on their staff a man who studies road kill? That is what makes Tea Party members angry, among many other equally ludicrous actions of our state government.””

    Now I took this editorial in a different way than you and most other commenters (by the way, I’m not a Tea Partier nor do I necessarily agree with anything they stand for, which I think varies from one Tea Partier to the next one affiliated with this “grass roots” movement). What I hear is a general frustration wrt upper academia (which I share) that there doesn’t seem to be any money for basic services, but somehow there is money to fund relatively frivolous road kill studies. It matters not one whit about the “different pots of money” argument which is an artificial construct that allows the non-prioritization of how money is spent in our universities.

    It also means our society is out of kilter when we have plenty of money for road kill studies, yet not enough for basic services. Does it really make sense to any of you that we raise UC tuition 32% in one year, but yet money is somehow available to pay $600,000 worth of repairs to UC President Yudof’s $15,000 per month rented house? Are you really satisfied with the “different pot of money” argument deep down in your gut where fair play and a sense of justice reside?

    I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, the money to pay for everything comes out of one source – the citizens collective pockets one way or another – either through taxes, additional costs in consumer prices, etc. ad nauseum. We do not prioritize needs in this country. I pay $20 for a CD, which makes some singer a mega-millionaire, while some researcher in a lab who discovers the cure for a disease makes a modest salary. Which do we need more, the CD or the cure for the disease? Catch my drift?

  21. rusty49

    wdf1, instead of a question for me I have one for you:

    If Obamacare is so great why aren’t Democrat candidates running on that platform? The only Democrat ads you see or hear are ones where they say they voted “NO” on Obamacare.

  22. Don Shor

    I always dislike seeing a reputable, published research scientist disparaged and his work trivialized in the manner that has been done to Dr. Shilling here. So here is a little of his background.
    [url]http://pipl.com/directory/people/Fraser/Shilling[/url]

  23. wdf1

    If Obamacare is so great why aren’t Democrat candidates running on that platform? The only Democrat ads you see or hear are ones where they say they voted “NO” on Obamacare.

    You have a perspective that I don’t have. I don’t watch TV (though I watch some stuff online, then they don’t have political commercials), and I don’t listen to commercial radio. So I can’t answer you.

    I like many parts of the healthcare plan. I don’t understand why you or others wouldn’t like them: like being allowed to carry your kids til 26, being able to carry family members on your plan, even if they have pre-existing conditions.

    Why is it important to reject the whole plan out of hand? Why is it all bad policy? Can you explain why? or is it more about scoring political points against Obama and the Democrats?

  24. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]Unbelievable, you take one letter from one solitary member of the Tea Party and make this broad leap. You and your Democrat buddies are really searching hard for anything that you can find to denegrate them, it’s pretty sad. [/quote]

    What I don’t get Rusty is I lay out three specific problems which I think are endemic to the Tea Party movement, really someone else nailed it, it’s an extension of the old Know-Nothing party. One of my favorite books of all time is Richard Hofstadter’s “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life” which I strongly recommend you read.

    Here’s the part i don’t get, you chose to make a blanket statement about me and my Democratic buddies without disputing any of the factual points I make in the column.

  25. David M. Greenwald

    Elaine:

    “What I hear is a general frustration wrt upper academia (which I share) that there doesn’t seem to be any money for basic services, but somehow there is money to fund relatively frivolous road kill studies.”

    I think this actually illustrates the point I am making here. Why is it frivolous? Without researchers, there is no university. The funding sources are vastly different. The second we start telling some researchers their research is frivolous (and I disagree both from the standpoint of public safety on the highways and ecology, we need to understand how roadways interact with wildlife), they we no longer have a world class university which attracts the top researchers in their respective fields.

  26. itsme

    The money to pay for everything comes out of one source: the citizens…. (paraphrased from an earlier comment).

    That shows a blind spot that needs to be recognized. The share of taxes paid by corporations has declined over the past decades. To take up the slack, the tax burden has shifted more and more to citizens. If challenged, I’ll take time to dig out the references.The shift now has some people believing the entire world has to be on our shoulders.

    Case in point: Big Oil defeated Prop 87 in 2006, which would have levied an extraction tax for drilling oil in California. California was (maybe still is) the only state that doesn’t collect such a tax. The revenue of $4 billion oil tax money would have been used to build our local green energy industry. Along with BP’s taking oil reserves off the Gulf of Mexico and leaving disaster in its wake, I see the US being treated as a Third World country. We used to do it to others and now it’s being done to us. So next time we complain about taxes, recognize who/what’s evading them big time.

  27. wdf1

    If Obamacare is so great why aren’t Democrat candidates running on that platform? The only Democrat ads you see or hear are ones where they say they voted “NO” on Obamacare.

    Well, your assertion got me curious. In the two California congressional races that affect Davis, the incumbant Democrats don’t appear to hide their support for the healthcare bill:

    Mike Thompson campaign website:
    [url]http://mikethompsonforcongress.com/[/url]

    Barbara Boxer campaign website:
    [url]http://www.barbaraboxer.com/home[/url]

  28. itsme

    Why aren’t Democrats running on Health Care reform? (Paraphrased from on earlier statement.)

    Have you not heard Obama’s backyard townhalls? The Health Care reform was designed to take effect for the November elections. Yes, it looks political, but the changes may well have take time and, guess what, this is politics.

    People are seeing changes. The ones that come immediately to mind are: no pre-existing exclusions for children, no co-pays on some preventive services as mammography and (as I recall) colonoscopy, an expensive procedure. There are others; it’s easy enough to find a video of Obama’s TV appearances, for those interested.

    The changes are just plain humane. It’s ludicrous that a “pre-existing condition” can disqualify you from a policy to which you’ve paid for years. You only get health care as long as you don’t need it? It’s amazing that Republican politicians can turn a good deed into evil and some decents citizens will believe them. I think their arguement is free choice of doctors. Well, if you can’t afford one, it really doesn’t matter.

  29. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “I think this actually illustrates the point I am making here. Why is it frivolous? Without researchers, there is no university. The funding sources are vastly different. The second we start telling some researchers their research is frivolous (and I disagree both from the standpoint of public safety on the highways and ecology, we need to understand how roadways interact with wildlife), they we no longer have a world class university which attracts the top researchers in their respective fields.”

    Without students there is no university (or future researchers), just a big fat research lab. The “without researchers, there is no university” is a circular argument. It is also a matter of priorities. Which is more important, that students be able to attend the university and get educated, or that road kill studies are done? Right now figuratively speaking, the UC system is headed towards funding road kill studies while cutting off the ability of many, many students to attend the university, especially those living inside the state. It is pushing research to the forefront bc it brings in corporate dollars, at the expense of educating our youth. If this country is not careful, we will have to import scientists and engineers from other countries (this is already starting to happen) bc we are not educating our own. Is this the direction you really want to go?

    Don Shor: “I always dislike seeing a reputable, published research scientist disparaged and his work trivialized in the manner that has been done to Dr. Shilling here. So here is a little of his background.”

    Agreed, but it is also a matter of priorities. The debate of the importance of research vs teaching in public universities has always been there, but is really becoming of extreme importance as we move forward with a far less robust economy. We are going to have to decide as a nation just how important the educational function is in our universities, in relation to research which tends to bring in far more private funding from vested corporate interests. Yet if we do not invest in our youth and their education, we are not going to have the scientists we need to carry out all the research DPD insists universities must do to remain viable.

  30. E Roberts Musser

    itsme: “People are seeing changes. The ones that come immediately to mind are: no pre-existing exclusions for children, no co-pays on some preventive services as mammography and (as I recall) colonoscopy, an expensive procedure. There are others; it’s easy enough to find a video of Obama’s TV appearances, for those interested.
    The changes are just plain humane. It’s ludicrous that a “pre-existing condition” can disqualify you from a policy to which you’ve paid for years. You only get health care as long as you don’t need it? It’s amazing that Republican politicians can turn a good deed into evil and some decents citizens will believe them. I think their arguement is free choice of doctors. Well, if you can’t afford one, it really doesn’t matter.”

    But at what “cost” are these new changes coming? Cuts in Medicare coverage have already been instituted to accommodate these new “more humane” changes. My concern is that we are going to get less coverage at greater cost, to institute these “more humane” changes. If Obamacare is so wonderful, why did Congress exempt themselves? The devil is in the details…

  31. Don Shor

    ERM “The debate of the importance of research vs teaching in public universities has always been there…”

    In fact, the missions of research and teaching are of equal importance at the University of California. Always have been. I remember discussing this with my father in the 1970’s; he was a researcher (oceanographer) who also was called in to teach at times. UC makes an effort to draw top researchers in each field, which boosts their prestige, which causes more students to want to go there.
    The mission of the state colleges has (generally) been more toward teaching.

  32. E Roberts Musser

    Don Shor: “In fact, the missions of research and teaching are of equal importance at the University of California. Always have been. I remember discussing this with my father in the 1970’s; he was a researcher (oceanographer) who also was called in to teach at times. UC makes an effort to draw top researchers in each field, which boosts their prestige, which causes more students to want to go there.
    The mission of the state colleges has (generally) been more toward teaching.”

    I don’t disagree that research and teaching are of equal importance. You need both for a university to be viable. However, I have cringed at some of the statements made by Katehi lately. She emphasizes research, out of state and foreign students, all to bring in more corporate dollars and out of state tuition. In fact she stresses the importance of making UCD the top research university in the country to bring in the corporate dollars, at a time when the tuition was raised 32% in one year and as UC med center directors received bonuses. It has all the appearance of exalting research far above teaching IMHO and a move towards privatizing our public universities.

  33. rusty49

    Elaine, here’s some of the GOP healthcare proposals:

    “The pledge states that the GOP would replace the current overhaul with smaller measures that would limit malpractice lawsuits against physicians; foster health savings accounts; enroll chronically ill individuals in state-run high-risk insurance pools; bar insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions; permit the purchase of health plans across state lines; and prevent the use of federal funds for abortions, except in cases designated by the Hyde Amendment.”

    They’re also allowing children up to 26 to stay on parents plan.

    All this at a lower cost than the Democrat plan.

  34. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]Which is more important, that students be able to attend the university and get educated, or that road kill studies are done? [/quote]

    First, the monies are not the same, so it is not as though the money that researchers get through grants (and again this project ironically not grant funded) could go to general operating expenses of the university.

    But second, if you want world class faculty, who are performing cutting edge research in their fields, grant money is just as important as general fund money.

  35. biddlin

    The GOP Pledge is a waste of 45 pages. I did note this gem, early in the document,”Rising joblessness, crushing debt, and a polarizing political environment are fraying the bonds among our people and blurring our sense of national purpose.” And who was in charge when these conditions were created? Later on they allude to their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, who talked small government, but grew it to enormous dimensions. As is the party’s wont, they tell you what they’re against, offering no alternative solutions to the problems they’ve created. S O S, imagine my surprise.

  36. rusty49

    The Democrats have been in charge of Congress for the last 4 years and the Presidency for the last 2, how’s that working for you? Joblessness out of control and deficit soaring to atronomical amounts selling out our children and grandchildren created by a housing crisis created by many of the Democrat policies of the 1990’s and 2000’s. I know though, Obama says it’s bad but it could’ve been worse, there’s a statesman for you.

  37. Don Shor

    Obama and the Democratic Congress have fulfilled many of my expectations in the last two years, and missed some. Overall I am far more satisfied with the current administration than I was with the previous one. In foreign affairs I consider this president and his team to be far, far superior than his predecessor.
    I consider your analysis to be superficial, so there probably isn’t much point in trying to argue with you point by point. However:
    I think the unemployment rate will decline slowly now, and the administration deserves to be faulted for being overly optimistic about the rate of recovery.
    The bank rescue worked, and so did the stimulus to a degree. Yes, in fact, to say “it could’ve been worse” would be perfectly accurate. The liquidity problems banks and businesses were facing were a genuine crisis, and that was largely solved.
    The rescue of GM worked and saved many jobs.
    There is plenty of blame to go around for the housing crisis, nor has it been “fixed.” I am skeptical that it ever really can be fixed. That will be a long, difficult problem.
    The deficit is a serious long-term problem, but not our most pressing short-term fiscal problem.

  38. Davis Enophile

    [quote]….a polarizing political environment are fraying the bonds among our people and blurring our sense of national purpose[/quote]

    Rusty and biddlin, polarizing case in point

  39. Frankly

    The anger of the Tea Party is irrational?

    It is easy to find irrational anger – or anger that appears irrational based on different viewpoint – in every Party.

    First, note that the Tea Party started forming when Bush was President. This may be lost of some Bush haters, but fiscal conservative were not happy with Bush and not happy with the GOP majority in Congress. Center-right libertarians and independents wanted to skewer the GOP almost as much as they want to take out the Democrats today.

    The “TEA” in Tea Party stands for “Taxed Enough Already”. You can pick out single signs and single stories that demonstrate ignorance, and accept the liberal media template of white racism and white anger… but then you would be missing the basis for what has stirred the pot. It is simple: the government is too big and tries to do too much; and the cost of it is breaking the backs of existing Americans and threatening our way of life and our children’s way of life.

    Call it bad timing… although I believe it was anger about the economy and spending that handed Obama and Dems the keys to the kingdom, and not love of the liberal worldview… but the Democrats (controlled by the liberal arm of their party) were itching to spend on new social and environmental programs. They ignored their true mandate and went forward with their liberal agenda securing tributes to Ted Kennedy and Al Gore. They blew the doors off the spending records, while unemployment skyrocketed. Many people are really pissed off at government… much more than they were pissed off at government during the Bush era.

    The Tea Party verses left-view debate is not new. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson followers did the same. There are people just wired to want to solve problems using central top-down controlled solutions (Adam’s Federalists). There are others that believe free individuals will do a better job being left alone with opportunities and morals (Jefferson’s Republicans). It is interesting though that Jefferson was a dismal business man and died with significant unpaid debt.

    Here is an easier way to understand what drive the Tea Party. See this graph: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_20th_century_chart.html

    Just continue the trend line and it is easy to understand what drives Tea Party anger. Frankly, it is surprising to me that more Democrats also don’t have a problem with this trend. I think they will start once the media interest to paint the Tea Party as a bunch of deviant nuts dies down, and the truth about the cost of Obamacare makes more of the mainstream news.

  40. David M. Greenwald

    Rusty you cited the Pledge by the Republicans, I found this interesting tidbit from FactCheck.org ([url]http://factcheck.org/2010/09/factchecking-the-pledge/[/url]) into some of the claims made:

    [quote]The Republican “Pledge to America,” released Sept. 23, contains some dubious factual claims:

    * It declares that “the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.” Not true. So far this year government employment has declined slightly, while private sector employment has increased by 763,000 jobs.
    * It says that “jobless claims continue to soar,” when in fact they are down eight percent from their worst levels.
    * It repeats a bogus assertion that the Internal Revenue Service may need to expand by 16,500 positions, an inflated estimate based on false assumptions and guesswork.
    * It claims the stimulus bill is costing $1 trillion, considerably more than the $814 billion, 10-year price tag currently estimated by nonpartisan congressional budget experts.
    * It says Obama’s tax proposals would raise taxes on “roughly half the small business income in America,” an exaggeration. Much of the income the GOP is counting actually comes from big businesses making over $50 million a year.
    [/quote]

  41. itsme

    About research vs teaching. Having gotten graduate degress from both research oriented universities (UC Berkeley) and non-research oriented state universities and medical school, I don’t see the issue as either or. By far the best faculty was at UC Berkeley because their profs literally “wrote the book” on the topics they taught. Whether their research was esoteric or practical, they were teaching from their own research. Every other teacher passes on what he/she learned from books/seminars, which is fine, but the research profs knew their material from hands on work…and they transmitted their enthusiasm as well.

    About humane health insurance coverage vs Medicare cuts. This is way too vague a comparison . What Medicare cuts do you have in mind? By humane, I’m referring to getting more of the uninsured covered, such that preventive services are available. It is more humane to prevent heart disease than to do by-pass surgery (really brutal). It’s also far cheaper to prevent than to treat. That should be a minimum standard for developed countries. Especially one like ours, that finds trillions of dollars to spend on war but not another cent for preventive medical care.

    I haven’t looked at any proposed cuts in Medicare; however, I think it’s beyond dispute that not all services can be made available through insurance. There will be ethical decisions that have to be made and the best way to make these decisions would be to have multi-disciplinary teams to consider the personal and social risks/benefits of costly procedures.

  42. wdf1

    * It declares that “the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.” Not true. So far this year government employment has declined slightly, while private sector employment has increased by 763,000 jobs.

    Especially when you realize that laying off government census workers from the 2010 census is a significant factor in adding to some of the recent unemployment.

  43. Don Shor

    rusty: some evidence for that? I know of no reason to believe the Annenberg Center or FactCheck are particularly biased in any direction. Have you looked at the site?

  44. wdf1

    I know of no reason to believe the Annenberg Center or FactCheck are particularly biased in any direction.

    FWIW, the Annenberg’s were also big supporters of Ronald Reagan.

  45. rusty49

    “Barack Obama was the first Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which was a Division, or Project, of the Annenberg Foundation. Obama spent four plus years (1995-1999) as Chairman of the Board.”

  46. rusty49

    “The fact is, the ANNENBERG Public Policy Center (APPC), the sponsoring agency behind FastCheck.org, is itself supported by the same foundation, the ANNENBERG FOUNDATION, that Bill Ayers secured the 49.2 million dollars from to create the Chicago ANNENBERG Challenge “philanthropic” organization in which Barack Obama was the founding Chairman of the Board for and Ayers served as the grant writer of and co-Chair of for its two operating arms.”

  47. wdf1

    Rusty, on what Tea Partiers support: Repeal of of healthcare bill, latest poll shows 61% of Americans against Obamacare.

    This news summary suggests that such a poll doesn’t mean that a large Americans want to do away with “Obamacare”, but rather think Obama didn’t go far enough:

    [url]http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/09/26/poll-americans-want-health-care-government-plan-provides/[/url]

  48. wdf1

    Rusty: FactCheck.org is in Obama’s pocket, any fair minded person knows that.

    Bummer. Then I guess I’m not as fair-minded as I thought. What do you suggest as a reliably fair-minded source for fact verification?

    By the way, factcheck.org doesn’t seem to be in his pocket enough! Looking on the homepage of factcheck.org tonight, they seemed to call out more Democratic ads for factual innacuracies than Republican. Perhaps they caught wind of your accusation and quickly shaped up.

  49. Frankly

    This news summary suggests that such a poll doesn’t mean that a large Americans want to do away with “Obamacare”, but rather think Obama didn’t go far enough

    I suspect that “going far enough” to provide the single-payer socialized health care demanded by folks on the left (what this poll infers as a reason why a large percentage of voters reject Obamacare) would result in more right and center voters against it for its cost and overreach by the Federal government.

    This is the best that Obama and the Democrats could get done in the current political climate… a climae they caused with a confrontational partisan political strategy that continued from their campaign strategy (an unprecedented thing in the history of American politics). They dug in their heels and unilaterally pushed a piece of legislation that the majority of voters did not want, and still do not want.

    This poll is bunk because it fails to include the cost of universal coverage. Let’s try this… run a poll that asks voters how many would like a new luxury car provided by the government.

  50. Frankly

    * It claims the stimulus bill is costing $1 trillion, considerably more than the $814 billion, 10-year price tag currently estimated by nonpartisan congressional budget experts.

    In an August 25 report, Peter Orszag, the Director of the OMB, confirmed the projected 10-year deficit for 2010-2019 will be $9.05 trillion.

    While the administration now agrees with that figure, technical data in the new C.B.O. report suggests that if it were to review the Obama budget now, it would project deficits through 2019 above $10 trillion.

    Anticipating that the deficit figures will stoke the debate over the costs of Mr. Obama’s effort to overhaul health care, the administration was quick to say that much of the projected deficit was a legacy of the Bush administration and that the Obama administration was committed to restoring budget discipline when the economy recovers.

    Hillary Clinton stressed the corrosive effect of the mounting U.S. debt, which she said threatened the United States’ ability to chart its own course in the world and sends “a message of weakness internationally.”

    Economists expect high unemployment in the US to persist for another decade.

    Of course, in another profound example of high high quality reaching-across-the-isle leadership that he promised, Obama blames Bush and GOP for all of this too.

  51. E Roberts Musser

    jeff boone: “This poll is bunk because it fails to include the cost of universal coverage. Let’s try this… run a poll that asks voters how many would like a new luxury car provided by the government.”

    Great point Jeff! The problem with Obamacare, IMHO, is the very real likelihood, which seems to already be coming to pass, that it is resulting in less coverage for more money to pay for the “more humane” additions. Now is that really “more humane”?

  52. Don Shor

    “This poll is bunk because it fails to include the cost of universal coverage.”
    Of course, any poll that gives details about the cost of expanding coverage (no plan provides “universal coverage”) would also need to provide information about the current costs from having millions of uninsured and underinsured citizens.
    Republicans generally don’t believe that there is a problem. When pressed, they proposed changes that would have expanded coverage slightly.
    “They dug in their heels and unilaterally pushed a piece of legislation that the majority of voters did not want.”
    Only if you count the ones who wanted it to go further as “not wanting” it. Current polling indicates the country is just about split on the health coverage bill.
    [url]http://www.pollingreport.com/health.htm[/url]
    The notion that the public overwhelmingly opposes “Obamacare” is nonsense. Asked about the specific components of the bill, the public favors nearly all of them by substantial margins. The only part opposed by a majority is the mandate. But unfortunately, that is the only way to make the whole process pencil out.

  53. Frankly

    Republicans generally don’t believe that there is a problem. When pressed, they proposed changes that would have expanded coverage slightly.

    Not true Don. Republicans have consistently said that there is a problem…only one problem… and that problem is the high cost. If you lower the cost, most of the problems the Democrats are trying to solve go away… except the problem with irresponsible people that would chose to not purchase health care insurance regardless.

    How do you lower costs while maintaining quality? Free and abundant competition.

    How do you raise costs and lower quality? Have government control it.

  54. Don Shor

    If you simply allow greater competition and allow the insurance providers to manage costs, they will use their current method: cancel coverage.
    Here is a good overview on the problems inherent in counting on cost control to expand coverage:
    [url]http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/the-perennial-quest-to-lower-health-care-spending/[/url]

    “…irresponsible people that would chose to not purchase health care insurance….”

    Health care costs for lower income people can be up to 15% of their income. For higher incomes, it is as low as 3 – 5% of their income. When income drops, people have to make choices. Moreover, it is very difficult to shop for health coverage, as it is complex and most people essentially have to make un- or under-informed choices. Health care is a rather inelastic product.

  55. Frankly

    “When income drops, people have to make choices. “

    Why yes Don, as it is for food, clothing, cars, housing… any other product. Poor people have poorer nutrition as the natural organic stuff at the food coop is more expensive. Should we have government take that over too?

    This gets us back to the fundamental question: is health care a right or a product to be purchased?

    I get the issue with poor not being about to afford health insurance and agree that it needs to be made less expensive. I also get the problem with pre-existing conditions being used to drop covered people and raise their rates beyond what is reasonable. Those two problems need to be fixed. However, I absolutely reject the “fairness” argument that we need some type of progressive pricing so that the poor somehow pay the same proportion of cost relative to their income.

    We live in an economic-based society where the amount of money we make determines much about the quality of our life. We all have to make choices based on how much money we make. It is economic Darwinism. Like in other natural systems, there are consequences for removing all the stress of survival. Specifically, the species will decline. I believe there are far fewer true needy than the left wants to cover. We manufacture needy by constantly lowering the bar for what it takes to struggle to survive and prosper. We are in decline.

    I have relatives that have little money and they, of course, support Obamacare. They would also applaud it if Obama paid for their groceries and bought them a car. I find it interesting that my poor relatives are the same plagued with “poor decision making” skills due to some unresolved childhood issues. For me, the tragedy is their failure to confront and deal with their personal demons, and not their low economic status… which I see as a byproduct. The easier we make it for them to sponge off the government, the more apt it will be that they never confront these demons. I would much rather make health insurance more affordable so they see it within reach, and then see them struggle to reach it. Then it would be theirs, and not another handout.

  56. Don Shor

    This gets us back to the fundamental question: is health care a right or a product to be purchased?
    Good point. I believe access to health care is a right. I guess you don’t. To the extent the free market can provide it, great. Where it fails, I have no problem with the government providing it, as it does for veterans and senior citizens. Why did we decide to provide government care for those groups? One of the ideas that fell by the wayside during the health care debate was the simple expansion of Medicare. People on Medicare seem pretty happy with it — and well they should, since they were given a prescription drug benefit in 2005 that amounted to a cost to the federal government of over $100 billion a year.

    Here’s an interesting fact. In 2009 the five largest health carriers increased their profits by 56%, from $4.4 billion to $12.6 billion. Not bad considering we were in a recession. During that time, they covered 2.7 million fewer people.

  57. rusty49

    Exactly Jeff, I watched a show this weekend where the host talked about you’re either a “maker” or a “taker”. He pointed out that when a society has more takers than makers then what you have is a nation in decline. With all of the current administration’s handouts we are fastly approaching that point. I have to laugh that you now have a political group forming calling themselves the American 99ers Union advocating for more handouts which you know is a payoff for their vote.

  58. Frankly

    Don: I think we will have to agree to disagree on the “right” argument. I love the idea that everyone could get all the health care services he/she needed for free. But hell, we can’t even afford all the fire prevention we need, so I don’t see this sentiment working for us.

    “Here’s an interesting fact. In 2009 the five largest health carriers increased their profits by 56%, from $4.4 billion to $12.6 billion. Not bad considering we were in a recession. During that time, they covered 2.7 million fewer people.”

    First, the health insurance industry has a profit margin of 3.3%.. that is 86th of a long list of industries. See the following: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_otfwl2zc6Qc/SoMLoWBKM4I/AAAAAAAAK4g/wKdZyg5LxQ0/s1600-h/profits.bmp

    I guess you could make an argument that health insurance providers should make less than 3.3% profit margins. I however, would not have a problem with them making 25% profit margins if they were competing with each other on price/value. The fact is that state government regulations prevent adequate competition.

    The fact is that there has been a tsunami of consolidation. In the past 13 years there have been more than 400 mergers in the health insurance industry. All of these mergers have been permitted by the Antitrust Division with a modest divestiture in only three of the mergers. There were no actions taken against anticompetitive conduct by health insurers in the last administration and in this administration. What has been the result of this approach to health insurance competition?

    – More than 94 percent of all insurance markets in the United States are highly concentrated.

    Any industry with 94 percent concentration is not a competitive industry.

    Reduce the barriers to competition, muzzle the trial lawyers and make health insurance more affordable.

  59. Frankly

    I watched a show this weekend where the host talked about you’re either a “maker” or a “taker”. He pointed out that when a society has more takers than makers then what you have is a nation in decline. With all of the current administration’s handouts we are fastly approaching that point. I have to laugh that you now have a political group forming calling themselves the American 99ers Union advocating for more handouts which you know is a payoff for their vote.

    Rusty: I will have to remember that description. It sounds better than Rand’s “moocher” label.

  60. David M. Greenwald

    Problem there is no empirical basis for the maker-taker phenomena. There is no definition. There is no quantification of numbers. And almost everyone is a mixed-genre.

  61. David M. Greenwald

    Interesting blurb in the Project Censored top ten list ([url]http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=1743145[/url]):

    [quote]Cause of death: lack of health care

    As the health-care debate raged on, at least one important study was largely drowned out. Research led by the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center revealed that lack of health insurance may have figured into 17,000 childhood deaths among hospitalized children in the United States in the span of less than two decades.

    The results of a study published in the Journal of Public Health compared more than 23 million hospital records from 37 states between 1988 and 2005, and found that uninsured children in the study were 60 percent more likely to die in the hospital than those with insurance.

    “Can we say with absolute certainty that 17,000 children would have been saved if they had health insurance? Of course not,” writes a co-investigator. “From a scientific perspective, we are confident in our finding that thousands of children likely did die because they lacked insurance or because of factors directly related to lack of insurance.”[/quote]

  62. Frankly

    David: The results of a study published in the Journal of Public Health compared more than 23 million hospital records from 37 states between 1988 and 2005, and found that uninsured children in the study were 60 percent more likely to die in the hospital than those with insurance.”

    Thousands of these children likely died because they were malnourished, obese, had aids or fetal drug syndrome, had poor parenting, lived in dangerous neighborhoods… how do these criteria factor into their conclusions? Let’s assume everyone has the exact same health insurance… what is the likelihood that the death rate of poor kids still exceeds the rate for other kids?

    The 90/10 rule: the last 10% of perfection eats up 90% of the cost.

    The war on hunger for example… how long have we been fighting it, and why haven’t we won yet? Maybe we just need a surge.

    Bottom line, we cannot save everyone and everything. And trying to do so costs too much and sets up destructive and unsustainable dependencies. We are better off setting up a framework that allows the most to save themselves.

  63. David M. Greenwald

    While I agree we cannot save everything, I would think children are something we want to save. And if 1000 kids did die needlessly, I’d say that is a huge tragedy. I’m sure how you can ferret away those results using your reasoning.

  64. Frankly

    “David: While I agree we cannot save everything, I would think children are something we want to save. And if 1000 kids did die needlessly, I’d say that is a huge tragedy. I’m [not] sure how you can ferret away those results using your reasoning.”

    Well, where do you stop? There are tragic circumstances for kids throughout the globe… many much, much worse than American poor kids. Can we save them too? More importantly, how best do you save them?

    You might be surprised how much I care about this topic. I am just a realist and prefer to seek long-term fixes to the root causes of poverty and problems with afford-ability of necessary products and services. I want people to do for themselves, and not corrupt their motivations to do for themselves.

    I’m sure we want the same things, we just disagree how best to get them… and maybe disagree what is achievable short term and long term.

    BTW, at the same time we are moving toward more socialized care, isn’t most of Europe going the other way… toward more American-styled competition and controls?

  65. wdf1

    We live in an economic-based society where the amount of money we make determines much about the quality of our life. We all have to make choices based on how much money we make. It is economic Darwinism. Like in other natural systems, there are consequences for removing all the stress of survival. Specifically, the species will decline. I believe there are far fewer true needy than the left wants to cover. We manufacture needy by constantly lowering the bar for what it takes to struggle to survive and prosper. We are in decline.

    What do you think is going on with democratically-elected socialist societies in Europe, Scandinavia in particular? They appear to have high rates of “happiness” in their countries,
    (for instance, [url]http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/lif_hap_net-lifestyle-happiness-net[/url]; I could find more of these), by at least some standard measures, and we don’t think of them as poor, oppressed, or economically weak. The way that conservatives throw around the word “socialist,” it seems we oughta be looking on them with more disdain than we do. And those countries appear to have better overall healthcare than we do. Are they in decline? Shouldn’t Darwinian principals be undermining their system?

  66. Frankly

    “What do you think is going on with democratically-elected socialist societies in Europe, Scandinavia in particular? They appear to have high rates of “happiness” in their countries”

    Of course happiness is a relative measure, but there are certainly notable differences:

    – A much smaller population and lower population density.
    – A much more homogeneous society… in fact the influx of Muslim immigrants seem to be causing some downward measurements on the Dutch quality of life… certainly for Dutch Muslims.
    – Declining population… easy to be happier when you can more selfishly spend all your money on one kid or yourself.
    – No highly populated 3rd world countries next door pumping more needy into their system.

    Most importantly to me is the free national security provided by the US. It will be interesting to see if China steps up to protect old Europe when the US left gets done gutting the US engine of global military protection.

    I have always been intrigued by northern European countries success with socialism, but they are not the US and they are struggling with the job of assimilating outside language and culture into their societies. They are also on decline in population and it is likely that they will be the first to adopt Sharia law of all Western societies. Interesting though… when I travel to North Dakota I find more happy and friendly people too. I wonder if people with Northern European roots have some special happy herb or drink they are not telling us about!!? Or maybe CA sun is overrated as making us happy.

  67. rusty49

    Most of Europe’s economies have been stagnate for many years due to their Socialistic governments. A few countries are starting to come out of their slump, Germany for one, because they’re turning more towards Capitalism. Why would we as a nation want more Socialism when it is either a failure or results in a choked economy?

  68. Frankly

    I started thinking about happiness correlated with population density… since I am certainly happier when visting my mountain cabin.

    See the following:

    HAPPY COUNTRY POP DENSITY RANK
    82China 1
    125India 2
    23USA 3
    167Russia 9
    90Japan 10
    35Germany 14
    62France 20
    41UK 22
    10Canada 36
    15The Netherlands 60
    7Sweden 87
    3Austria 92
    2Switzerland 93
    1Denmark 108
    6Finland 110
    19Norway 114
    13Costa Rica 116
    11Ireland 118
    18New Zealand 121
    12Luxembourg 163
    5The Bahamas 166
    4Iceland 168

    Got the data here: http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/populations/ctypopls.htm

    Seems I am on to something.

    So, if we kick out all the immigrants (starting of course with the illegal immigrants) maybe we would all be happier.

    Just joking of course, but there does seem to be a clear correlation. And, by that measure, the US seems to shine in happiness relative to its population. The 3rd most dense population and the 23rd most happy. What’s wrong with Germany by the way?

  69. Frankly

    “Are you aware that they actually have a pretty high rate of immigration, for instance 12% of people in Sweden are foreign born, most of them come from former Soviet Countries.”

    I am aware of that. Although how does this compare to the US where 20% of Americans speak Spanish at home, and 25% speak a second native language and about 25% of the labor force is foreign born?

    Regardless, I should have been more specific.

    Why don’t more unhappy Americans move these lands of bliss?

  70. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]Why don’t more unhappy Americans move these lands of bliss? [/quote]

    I’d say a lot of reasons that have little to do with what you are driving at.

    At least in part because the people who would be most likely to want to, couldn’t afford it. It’s one thing for impoverished Mexicans to pour over our borders, it’s even another thing to take a boat trip across the Pacific, as dangerous as that may be, but to have to basically fly from the US to Scandonavia probably makes it prohibitive

    Plus most Americans probably have no idea where Scandonavia is or that they are more affluent there.

    Everyone dreams of America, the land of opportunity, but while there has been some truth to that, there is a good deal of myth there as well.

  71. Frankly

    “Everyone dreams of America, the land of opportunity, but while there has been some truth to that, there is a good deal of myth there as well.”

    I think the truth exists in what America has been and has stood for; the myth is contained in what she is becoming. I’m guessing as a progressive, you feel strongly that America is too harsh, too competitive, too exploitive of the less fortunate (not trying to put words in your mouth, just making my point).

    I remember a Toronto business conference I attended late in the 90s. A couple of coworkers and I had the time and drove to Niagara Falls. I remember how much more attractive, natural and well maintained the Canadian side was compared to the US side. The US side had more commercial development and more trash and graffiti. There were also many more people milling about on the US side. I haven’t been back since then so I don’t know the state of improvement or decline, but I saw the situation as an apt metaphor for the difference between the two countries and what may be attractive in each. The US has been this great sea of free and abundant economic opportunity. It is chaotic and messy at times; but it is also dynamic and exciting. It expects hustle and competition for prosperity and there is some life-stress contained in that expectation. The life-stress manifests into trash and graffiti and some scars on the landscape. But you have to look through this to see the greatness and beauty of the US. In the US you can really be (almost) anything you desire to be. This is why we grew to be the 3rd most populous country on the planet and why immigrants still flood here.

    Canada though is more akin to the liberal/progressive vision of a great country. It was more ordered and top-down controlled. On the surface it was/is cleaner and more nature-focused. There were much fewer people and most of them seemed a bit less stressed.

    I haven’t visited Scandinavia yet, but I assume there is similarity with Canada.

    My original questions was why are US citizens unhappy living in the US not moving in great numbers to these “happier” countries? As you point out there are a lot of practical reasons. My questions was more rhetorical… making a point that maybe people in the US are not so unhappy relative to what these countries have to offer… but maybe just unhappy relative to their expectations and the stress of what it takes to meet them.

    I think liberals/progressives sometimes cannot see the forest for all the trees… they want to change the US to look like these other less stressful countries. They want more top-down order and cleanliness and less chaotic change. They want to eliminate or lessen the required struggle, competitiveness and life-stresses. They want the US to be Canada… but do they really?

  72. wdf1

    Everyone dreams of America, the land of opportunity, but while there has been some truth to that, there is a good deal of myth there as well.

    I lived out of the country for a year, and have travelled a few times overseas. My perception was that the most dominant export from the U.S. is its culture. The whole thing about the “American Dream” is sold through American made TV shows and movies. If any other country could develop as strong a media industry (maybe India or China could pull it off), then I think some equivalent international symbolic mythology would develop about those countries.

    Why don’t more unhappy Americans move these lands of bliss?

    Well, I imagine part of it is a lack of a PR mechanism, as described above.

    But there is interesting reading about U.S. emigration. It might be more common than you think:

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emigration_from_the_United_States[/url]

    And apparently it’s hard to get firm numbers. As you might expect, Canada and Mexico are the most common destinations for U.S. emigrants.

  73. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]I think the truth exists in what America has been and has stood for; the myth is contained in what she is becoming. I’m guessing as a progressive, you feel strongly that America is too harsh, too competitive, too exploitive of the less fortunate (not trying to put words in your mouth, just making my point). [/quote]

    No. I think there’s simply a dark underbelly to the US that provides opportunity to some but eats up many within unfulfilled dreams and mythology. I’m not someone who hates this country, but by the same token I think we can do better.

  74. rusty49

    “No. I think there’s simply a dark underbelly to the US that provides opportunity to some but eats up many within unfulfilled dreams and mythology. I’m not someone who hates this country, but by the same token I think we can do better.”

    The opportunities are there for everyone if you’re willing to put in the time and work to get to where you want to be.

  75. Frankly

    “No. I think there’s simply a dark underbelly to the US that provides opportunity to some but eats up many within unfulfilled dreams and mythology. I’m not someone who hates this country, but by the same token I think we can do better.”

    The main problem that I see with that statement is the indication that someone has stopped trying to fulfill his/her dreams. I assume you are referring to dreams of prosperity or economic success. Lacking real debilitating health problems, why stop trying?

    However, I agree that we can do better… we can always improve. In fact, I believe in the constant improvement loop. As individuals we can always change and improve, and collectively we can and should do the same. But if not careful… if we don’t accurately assess the problems and opportunities… we can do worse. History is rife with examples of once strong societies collapsing in on themselves.

    Certainly individuals are capable of making bad decisions. Or even if we make good decisions, shit happens and we have to adjust. If we don’t we can get left behind. Yes change is stressful, but if we believe in evolution and the science that tracks it, humans were built to handle stress and the struggle to survive.

    This dark underbelly argument is a bit laughable when looked at from a historical perspective. That is why I say that many people that complain about this country do so with a narrow focus and relative to their situation… they don’t see the forest of greatness and of opportunity that exists. Immigrants to this country see the forest because their home country is much more barren (speaking metaphorically of course).

    My brother lost his CA job about nine months ago and was paralyzed, depressed , defeated… it took several conversations with him to get him to see his opportunity. He was given 12 months of severance for his 12 years on the job. He wasted 4 months feeling sorry for himself. But he just moved to the mid west and is starting his own business. His rent is $300 per month for a small house on four acres with a commercial building he is using for his business. He got a state grant and a low interest loan to subsidize his savings for his startup. Where else but American, right.. the land of endless opportunity!

  76. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]The opportunities are there for everyone if you’re willing to put in the time and work to get to where you want to be. [/quote]

    That I disagree with.

  77. David M. Greenwald

    Jeff: [quote]This dark underbelly argument is a bit laughable when looked at from a historical perspective.[/quote]

    You must be missing a huge chunk of this nation’s history or did you miss things like slavery, Jim Crow, the civil war, civil rights movement, etc. Or do you simply choose to believe that racism is a thing of the past. Or that rural poverty has ceased.

  78. Frankly

    “As you might expect, Canada and Mexico are the most common destinations for U.S. emigrants.”

    One of the problems with a global economy is there are downsides to moving somewhere that takes an 18 hour flight to come see the rest of your family. The workforce cannot be that mobile. It is interesting too how people that move abroad generally come back the US while they simultaneously try to import change resembling the country they didn’t desire to locate permanently.

    However, I think most of the US emigrants to Mexico and Canada (and other countries) are retirees. Going to Mexico they are more often looking for a lower cost of living… going to Canada they are often wealthier people seeking a Canadian vista. I remember reading that somewhere… I will look for the reference.

  79. Frankly

    “You must be missing a huge chunk of this nation’s history or did you miss things like slavery, Jim Crow, the civil war, civil rights movement, etc. Or do you simply choose to believe that racism is a thing of the past. Or that rural poverty has ceased.”

    Slavery is so yesterday’s news. Did you know that the US was not the only country that allowed slavery? Did you also know that millions of Republicans fought and died to secure freedom and equal rights for slaves? Lastly, did you know that the US civil rights movement happened about half a century ago?

    Let’s see… a black man is President of the US… the most powerful and lofty position in the world. We have people of African decent in every position of power and economic success. We have all level of anti-discrimination laws on the books. Yes, I would say that the topic of black racism should be shelved and reclassified as the same type of bias a short, red-head dude with freckles might experience. Bias is ignorance, and there will always be ignorant people.

    If you disagree then please, please paint me a picture of what a US would have to look like before you agree that black racism is no longer a worthy cause for an activist.

    “rural poverty has ceased”? Name one place where rural poverty has ceased? I think your goal is unattainable. In CA, most rural poverty is the poor Hispanic population. Interesting that for many, our definition of poverty is their definition of well off.

  80. rusty49

    “The opportunities are there for everyone if you’re willing to put in the time and work to get to where you want to be.”

    In fact if you’re a minority and have put in the time and effort to better yourself you’ll have corporations falling over each other in order to hire you even moreso than if you were white.

  81. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]Slavery is so yesterday’s news. Did you know that the US was not the only country that allowed slavery?[/quote]

    Yes.

    [quote] Did you also know that millions of Republicans fought and died to secure freedom and equal rights for slaves?[/quote]

    I found this a strange comment especially since I never mentioned partisanship in my remarks.

    [quote] Lastly, did you know that the US civil rights movement happened about half a century ago? [/quote]

    Bottom line for me is I think your narrative missed out on the problem of racism through out US history. I don’t think that has a partisan component. I just think that the idea that we have had a free and open society where people can move up socially is a very limited view given our history and our continued struggles in the last fifty years to overcome that darkside of our history.

    [quote]If you disagree then please, please paint me a picture of what a US would have to look like before you agree that black racism is no longer a worthy cause for an activist. [/quote]

    I’m more interested in looking for continued ways to remove barriers that have been erected over hundreds of years. But to answer your question, in order for racism (and I’m not talking exclusively black racism) not to be a worthy cause, I would suggest that race no longer be a statistically significant category over and above socioeconomic status in differentiating people.

  82. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]In fact if you’re a minority and have put in the time and effort to better yourself you’ll have corporations falling over each other in order to hire you even moreso than if you were white. [/quote]

    That’s an incredibly naive statement that ignores what it takes to even get to that point.

  83. rusty49

    “That’s an incredibly naive statement that ignores what it takes to even get to that point.”

    Why, because you say it’s naive? That statement is 100% correct and you know it.

  84. Frankly

    “I would suggest that race no longer be a statistically significant category over and above socioeconomic status in differentiating people.”

    How can you make the stretch that racism is the reason that blacks do not achieve socioeconomic status with other groups in this current age of past decades of affirmative action, equal opportunity, copious anti-discrimination laws and trail lawyers itching to extort money from poor management oversight? And, are Obama and Oprah just anomalies?

    70% of black children are raised by single parent households. Many experts agree that this is a root cause of generational black poverty. How is this caused by racism?

    I think by continuing down this path of racism being the blame for every statistical deficit, you do more harm that good because you distract from the true root cause analysis and problem solving that might otherwise occur. I have my own theories and they match what Bill Cosby has said (and then he got slapped down for saying it by the old-guard black leadership). I also think that people defined or enriched by racial tension have a vested interest to perpetuate it. Rising above victim status is hard enough work… it is made more difficult by those continually blaring that the victim status is justified.

    If you have a problem with different races owning different socioeconomic stats and believe that racism is the cause, then how do you explain the socioeconomic status of Asians in this country? Note that there were plenty of Asian slaves and near-slave labor back in the day.

  85. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]How can you make the stretch that racism is the reason that blacks do not achieve socioeconomic status with other groups in this current age of past decades of affirmative action, equal opportunity, copious anti-discrimination laws and trail lawyers itching to extort money from poor management oversight? And, are Obama and Oprah just anomalies?[/quote]

    How else would you explain the fact that race trumps socio-economic factors in explaining a whole host of issues?

    Obama and Oprah are anomalies, that’s why their names readily come to your mind. The few programs that have attempted to start to bring equally have been insufficient in the face of decades and generations of oppression.

  86. Frankly

    “How else would you explain the fact that race trumps socio-economic factors in explaining a whole host of issues?”

    [Quote]
    “Blacks today seem to be blinded by the fact that every system of slavery and oppression has at its subject the denial of a people’s humanity. Racist individuals long ago realized the guilt-lifting relief in categorizing African Americans as non-human. To clarify their point, distinctly separate African Americans from the human class, and have blacks buy into their newly-appointed inferiority, racists launched a psychological warfare: they constantly referred to blacks by the n-word, treated them like animals, and kept them in a “sheltered” social position.

    Obviously, the experiment was enormously successful because blacks still refer to themselves as such; maintain the helpless, limited mentalities; and refuse to see the role referring to one another as “n**ga” plays in their living in down-trodden, broken communities that offer no hope, jewels or nuggets of promise to younger generations. Some believe that the n-word is just a word that no longer has any power. However, if the word has no power or influence on African-American’s mentality or attainments in this day and age, why are the black community and the peoples’ mindsets still in the state that White America declared this mental plight would precipitate? For a race of people to lovingly embrace a word that is associated with a brutal social system that denied our humanity, marked blacks as a “thing,” and still today keeps them in a self-perpetuating cycle of demise is beyond any level of understanding.

    In 2009, African Americans’ continual acceptance and administering of internal erosion, and considering these acts a natural or normal part of the African-American community–which speaks volumes to the intellectual levels, mindset, and expectations of a majority of the black community–educated and uneducated alike, have desecrated the sacred memories of our ascendants and their accomplishments. But like Black Tulsa, African Americans can re-instate the integrity, dignity, and re-invigorate our society by promoting a survival campaign based on self-pride, self-help, and self-determination. The black community must cut off the life blood of this cyclical disaster. African Americans must establish healthy mentalities to crop a stronger, sustaining modern-day “Black Wall Street” that spans every corner of this vast US land to the distant shores of foreign brothern.


    H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., a writer for the New England Informer Online, and author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP2U0jmZjec
    [/quote]

  87. Frankly

    Sorry… What I meant to convey here..

    What caused it initially? Slavery

    What perpetuates it? Continued claims of racism justifying a lack of integrity, dignity, self-pride, self-help and self-determination.

    Someone once made the comment that blacks were physically freed from the plantation, but generations later many cannot let go of the constraining plantation of their mind and spirit.

  88. Frankly

    http://www.californiaindianeducation.org/indian_humor/blame_whites.html

    We need new leaders for the black community. The black leaders today are race-baiters that get their power from perpetuating the theme of racism and blaming whites. I think Obama is a coward for not standing up with a new message of personal responsibility and self-determination. He is pandering to the same victim’s template to get his share of black votes. He would take some lumps saying the right things.

  89. wdf1

    I think Obama is a coward for not standing up with a new message of personal responsibility and self-determination. He is pandering to the same victim’s template to get his share of black votes. He would take some lumps saying the right things. I think Obama is a coward for not standing up with a new message of personal responsibility and self-determination. He is pandering to the same victim’s template to get his share of black votes. He would take some lumps saying the right things.

    Jeff, I know you’re not fond of Obama, but with this comment, I think you reveal that you’ve gone out of your way NOT to follow Obama’s speeches:

    9/15/10: In address to students, Obama stresses personal responsibility
    [url]http://bgnews.com/wire/in-address-to-students-obama-stresses-personal-responsibility/[/url]

    7/16/08: Obama emphasizes personal responsibility
    [url]http://www.seattlepi.com/opinion/371049_mercer17.html[/url]

    1/19/09: Obama Speech Calls for ‘Era of Responsibility’
    [url]http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/President44/story?id=6679480&page=1[/url]

    7/17/09: Obama talks personal responsibility to NAACP
    [url]http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2009/07/17/obama_naacp/index.html[/url]

    9/08/09: Barack Obama speaks to America’s Students PT. 2/2 (this is that speach to students about personal responsibility that critics attacked as propoganda)
    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=im8VeXkOU8c[/url]

    I could spend between now and midnight finding citations of his speeches given in the past year alone which discuss personal repsonsibility. If you want a black leader to stand up with a new message about personal responsibility and self-determination, then Obama’s your man.

  90. Frankly

    ” If you want a black leader to stand up with a new message about personal responsibility and self-determination, then Obama’s your man.”

    wdf1: Nice smack down. You even quoted me twice to make sure I was sufficiently humbled…=o!

    Yes, I forgot about these speeches. You reminded me. I remember being impressed when I heard them, but for some reason I didn’t remember. I have to take back the coward statement because this is the brave message I was talking about.

    In defense of me, it is easy to forget about this lost in so much blame the GOP, demonize the Tea Party and blame Fox News content.

    I should be impressed that 95% of black voters still support him ever after having delivered this type of message. It is quite confusing though… given his affiliation with the Reverend Wright.

  91. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]I should be impressed that 95% of black voters still support him ever after having delivered this type of message.[/quote]

    You are really falling into the stereotypical trap here. The media loves to fawn over black figures who give the tough love, stern message to black audiences about their men failing to be good fathers and failing to lead respectable lives.

    The problem is that this is not something new. It is something that most hear every week when they go to church from their reverends and preachers. Of course you have probably never been to a black church and do not know that or if you have, perhaps you forgot just like you did with Obama’s speeches.

    I think it is appalling that you are surprised or impressed that blacks would continue to support Obama after having heard a message they have heard their own lives.

    It’s easy to wag a finger at a group of people and judge them. But it doesn’t change anything.

    The real question is not whether black people have the courage to look at themselves, but whether we as a nation are willing to accept the blame for creating this problem. If it were just about admonishments, the problem would be solved.

    The idea that the black community is neither aware and does not feel shame about their predicament I think is one of the largest myths perpetrated in popular culture. And I think it blinds well meaning people like you to very real problems that will not be solved by simply hard work.

  92. wdf1

    wdf1: Nice smack down. You even quoted me twice to make sure I was sufficiently humbled…=o!

    I know I can count on you to return the favor sometime in the future! 😉

    I should be impressed that 95% of black voters still support him ever after having delivered this type of message. It is quite confusing though… given his affiliation with the Reverend Wright.

    Have you read the [u]Autobiography of Malcolm X[/u]?

    I know relatively little about Reverend Wright, but to me, there is a lot more nuance and context to Obama’s relationship with Wright than the media and Republicans allow for. When I hear snippets of Reverend Wright’s sermons, it reminds me of the more outrageous quotes of Malcolm X — Malcolm X, who commented that “the chickens had come home to roost” when JFK was killed. Wright’s most widely broadcast quote was how “America’s chickens had come home to roost” in the 9/11 attacks.

    Malcolm X, at one point in his career, was all about emphasizing black self-reliance, to the point of separating the black community from the rest America. I see suggestions of similar thinking in Wright. Wright was also a leader in Louis Farakhan’s Million Man March, by the way. The Nation of Islam’s headquarters also happen to be in Chicago.

    I can see how Obama would have affiliated himself with Wright at one point, but also that Obama would have legitimate philosophical differences with him as well.

  93. Frankly

    The media loves to fawn over black figures who give the tough love, stern message to black audiences about their men failing to be good fathers and failing to lead respectable lives.

    Maybe the media does, but not the black leadership establishment. Just ask Bill Cosby. Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright, Malik Zulu Shabazz… these are just a few black leaders you just seem to ignore.

    Of course you have probably never been to a black church and do not know that or if you have, perhaps you forgot just like you did with Obama’s speeches.

    I have. My family (started with my parents) have given a substantial sum of money to a single Baptist church in Mississippi with a majority black congregation. Honestly, I don’t remember the connection. I think my folks made friends with a couple on a trip down south, and they were invited to attended service at this church. It was an embarrassing hoot when I got to attend with them one trip… the congregation treated us like some type of dignitaries.

    “The real question is not whether black people have the courage to look at themselves, but whether we as a nation are willing to accept the blame for creating this problem. If it were just about admonishments, the problem would be solved.”

    As a continuing student of human nature and motivation theory, I think I will always 100% disagree with your sentiments on this topic. Blame is always looking back and it never solves a problem. Solutions are always now and looking forward… the importance of history being the context by which to guide us… not the excuse for why something is not.

    The idea that the black community is neither aware and does not feel shame about their predicament I think is one of the largest myths perpetrated in popular culture.

    David, I’m sorry, but you don’t help anyone solve their own problems by constantly blaming the past mistakes of others. There is a saying “it is what it is”. Shame is not a healing thing, but honesty is an absolute requirement for healing to begin. Reparations, affirmative action, constant reminders of the ugly history of slavery, ongoing claims of racism as a major social problem… all these things serve only as pressure relief that prevent the REAL HEALING work from occurring. Even “black pride” is a destructive concept… it communicates “difference”. As Bill Cosby points out, American blacks are simply Americans… not Africans. They are people blessed with a beautiful darker skin tone… other than that, there should be ZERO difference.

    Unfortunately, whites cannot lead blacks to a place of full healing and assimilation precicely because of the racism template some use to maintain their identity and power as friends of the black cause. It is these people that are the new slavers so to speak, because they prevent too many blacks from the having the life epiphanies they need to break the trap of their held stereotypes about themselves and the world around them. Every black child should dream the same dream as every other child in this country. The message to them should be: “You will face bias… you will face adversity… you will feel defeated at times, but life is supposed to be a struggle and there is nothing different about you that should prevent you from achieving success and happiness other than your own drive and determination to achieve.”

    This is the same message I give my sons.

    Trust me, I want the same things you do, I just disagree with the methods you support.

  94. David M. Greenwald

    Jeff:

    I think my point was somehow missed, none of what you are saying is lost on vast numbers in various communities. They deal with it, they grapple with it.

    I think the problem is far more difficult than what you suggest. It is not merely a matter of people working harder and overcoming adversity. When you say, “You will face bias… you will face adversity… you will feel defeated at times, but life is supposed to be a struggle and there is nothing different about you that should prevent you from achieving success and happiness other than your own drive and determination to achieve.”

    Sounds great, but how do you tell that to a seven year old who weighs 38 pounds because his mother didn’t do enough to make sure he ate everyday, lacks the ability to function in a normal classroom without extensive intervention that most schools lack the resources to provide in good times let alone now. Gets so frustrated that he literally shuts down and curls into a little ball for a period of time before calming down. Wants to do well but is falling further and further behind his classmates. Even moved away from his mom to live with his aunt and uncle where there is a more stable environment and better schools. Oh he may have a chance, but most kids in his position aren’t going to get that opportunity. And for him, it’s still up in the air at best.

  95. Frankly

    Sounds great, but how do you tell that to a seven year old who weighs 38 pounds because his mother didn’t do enough to make sure he ate everyday…

    David: that is not a black issue… that is a heartbreaking human issue. There are two solution tracks with this: one – how do you save the child. two – how do your prevent this same type of problem from repeating itself. Anyone that works on the first has all my support and gratitude. However, the focus on my posts were on the second and I am critical of what I see as the wrong type of help… for precicely the reason that I am sick and tired of being heartbroken about the first.

  96. David M. Greenwald

    You are partly correct in that it is not exclusively a black issue. But for me the right kind of help is putting the resources we need into schools, into early childhood education, into universal healthcare, into jobs training programs, shifting from punitive drug enforcement efforts to more health based approaches…

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