Drastic Times

Weird, Interesting or Disturbing News and Current Events along with some unsolicited opinions. Pretty much anything that I believe to be of interest, including politics, religion, conspiracies, values, corruption, etc.

A BBC News article reports that Nepal's state-run airline has sacrificed two goats in front of one of its planes, to appease a Hindu god after the aircraft developed technical problems.

The airline said that after the sacrificial ceremony, the plane successfully completed a flight to Hong Kong.

"The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights," senior airline official Raju KC was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The article makes no mention of any mechanical work being performed on the aircraft, so it seems to indicate that the sacrifice was the extent of any corrective action.

I originally decided to post this article as I found it humorous from a 21st Century American viewpoint. However, as the plane successfully completed its flight and appears to be having no more difficulty, who's to say that the sacrifice didn't work.

Unfortunately, another BBC News article reports that Nepal is in the midst of a severe goat shortage ahead of the country's biggest religious festival of the year. Farmers in rural areas are being asked to sell their goats. No mention was made of the effect that the goat shortage may have on the maintenance crews of Nepal Airlines.

An article on the BBC News page reports that President Barack Obama's education speech, in which he urged American schoolchildren to work hard and not to give up, has stirred a partisan row.

In Today's (Tuesday, September 8) speech at a Virginia high school, Mr Obama told children their country's future depended on their educational achievement. But conservatives have complained he is trying to indoctrinate children to serve his political agenda.

A different article posted on OpEdNews, suggests that the latest Republican exercise in manufactured outrage may very well cost the party for decades. The GOP threw weeks of anger at the speech with accusations of indoctrination and socialism. Conservatives ignored the Department of Education's description of what the speech would be about, subjects such as staying in school, taking responsibility for one's own education and working hard in school. Instead they went about treating the speech like they have treated the stimulus and health care reform. They ignored the facts and invented their own specifically designed to maximize outrage.

Based on these accusations put out there by the Republican Party, parents kept children from school, school boards alternatively decided not to show the speech, or required parents to opt in, or opt out, etc. The lies caused some parents to have visible breakdowns on television, driven to anguish and concern by the fantastic claims of socialist indoctrination.

The Saint Petersburg Times (Florida) compiled a list of students comments, some bitingly sarcastic towards opponents of the speech. Said one 16 year-old:

"Obama's speech was just dripping with socialist values, especially when he told kids "I hope you'll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter."

Oh, and the part about students setting goals for their education and asking for help when they worry they won't succeed? He is stealing the words right out of Karl Marx's mouth."

A 17 year-old stated:

"Yes conservatives, you can come out of your bunkers in Wyoming and send little Jimmy back to school because there are no socialist agenda fist-pounding moments and no brain-sucking Marxist remarks."

Another 17 year-old commented:

"The speech had no socialist agenda and only the best of intentions: getting students to realize that the circumstances of their life are no excuse for not trying in school. "

And an 18 year-old had this to say:

"Does brainwashing include telling students that, "every single one of you has something you're good at?" If it does, then every child in this world has been brainwashed by their parents and will continue to be for the rest of their lives."

What's really interesting about all of the propaganda, is that the Republicans knew what would be in the speech. Did they not foresee that their lies would be exposed? Did they honestly believe that millions of parents would keep their children home from this education encouragement speech? Are the Republicans against education for the fact that an uneducated population is easier to manipulate?

One of the most insightful remarks was this one, made by a 17 year-old student:
"Children and teenagers are very susceptible to simply believing whatever their parents believe politically."

Hopefully this deception by the Republicans will teach students that their parents' views are not necessarily correct, and to evaluate statements on their own. Regardless, this lack of credibility on the part of the Republicans will no doubt still be in the minds of these young people when they vote for the first time in 2012.

An article of Channel 7 News of Boston says that a new proposed bill designed to combat the threat of the H1N1 virus would allow the state of Massachusetts to forcefully quarantine people in the event of a pandemic.

Anyone who refuses to comply with the quarantine order could face jail time or a $1000 per day fine.

The "Pandemic Response Bill" would also force health providers to vaccinate people, authorize forcible entry into private homes, and impose fines or prison sentences on anyone not complying with isolation or quarantine orders.

It seems amazing that this is a news story concerning one of the American states. What got into the government of Massachusetts? Although I don't fully agree, I can possibly see forced quarantine for public safety; but I think that forcing health care providers to vaccinate people by forcibly entering my home is going too far.

It's almost as though Massachusetts has something in that vaccine that they want everyone injected with. If I believed in conspiracy theories, I think I may be watching the news to see if other states follow suit.

According to an article in the Kansas City Star, Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, has been praying for the death of President Obama. In a sermon titled "Why I Hate Obama," Anderson admits that he prays for the president's demise (see the accompanying video - skip to 320 if you don't want to see the introduction). Says Anderson, "If you want to know how I'd like to see Obama die, I'd like him to die of natural causes," said Anderson. "I don't want him to be a martyr, we don't need another holiday. I'd like to see him die, like Ted Kennedy, of brain cancer."

Anderson's message of hatred may have not had the effect that he had intended, for he and his congregation have since received death threats. Yet despite the threats, Anderson's congregation clings to his message.

"If (Obama) thinks the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are obsolete, it would be better if (Obama) wasn't here," said parishioner Renee Houlihan.

Parishioner Christopher Broughton, commenting on Anderson's anti-Obama sermon, said, "I concur, I think we'd be better off if God would send (Obama) where he's going now instead of later," said Broughton. "(Obama) is destroying our country." Broughton, who claims that he moved near Anderson's church because he believed in its message, brought an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle outside Obama's speech to the VFW in Phoenix in August.

Not only are Anderson's followers carrying guns to political events, they've now taken to toting their guns back and forth to church to protect themselves from the death threats. Anderson's reaction to all of this was, "Guns are a great deterrent. We haven't had any violence because people know if they come down here swinging a baseball bat, we're ready to protect ourselves."

The US Secret Service claims that they're aware of Anderson's comments, and that an appropriate follow-up will be conducted. Personally, I believe that Anderson is instigating violence, if not murder, and should be locked up for the remainder of Obama's term - possibly longer. This is a dangerous man, inciting the weak-minded to commit an assassination by having them believe that God has ordained it. However, given the narrow-mindedness and violent nature of Anderson's congregation, I would imagine that the Secret Service is reluctant to act unnecessarily.

To go off on a small tangent here, I really think that Pastor Anderson has put the US Government in a rather interesting predicament. Obviously, it's illegal to ask anyone to kill the President of the United States. Anyone who requests such an act of another will be arrested, assuming I would imagine, that the person who is requested to perform the killing is real and capable of such an act. Although I don't know of a precedent, I would imagine however, that should someone simply speak into the air and ask an imaginary being to kill a president, the Secret Service may decline to get involved.

As for God, to those who believe in him he is quite capable of killing. The Bible credits him with over two million killed, and that doesn't even could the Great Deluge, Sodom and Gomorrah, plagues and other unique killing methods that he has supposedly used in the past. Therefore the question is, does the US Government believe God to be real?

Although the US Government claims to be secular, it has certainly done much to indicate its belief in God. Consider the following:

1. Our money says, "In God We Trust."

2. Our Pledge of Allegiance to our flag contains the words, "One Nation Under God."

3. The third verse of our national anthem says, "And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'"

4. the words, "Laus Deo" (Latin for "Praise Be To God") are engraved on the Washington Monument, along with several other references to God and Scripture.

5. The US Supreme Court made the statement, "This is a Christian Nation," in its decision in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 1892.

There are other examples as well, including many quotes by our founding fathers and other politicians through Lincoln, Truman, Roosevelt and up to Reagan which not only indicate a personal belief in God, but stating that America is a Christian nation. For example:

1. "Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic, expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God's help, it will continue to be."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

2. "America was born a Christian nation."
- Woodrow Wilson, President

3. "This is a Christian nation."
- Harry Truman, President

And so, if America believes in God, who is capable of killing, then America is obligated to arrest Pastor Anderson for asking God to kill the president. I think that those Americans who believe that America is a Christian nation should demand that Anderson be arrested, for if America takes no action, this would in essence indicate that America denies God's existence.

And for those who don't believe that America is a Christian nation, Anderson's arrest should be demanded nonetheless because he's a manipulative and hateful lunatic.

Two Paris suburbs have suffered traffic chaos over a feud between their two mayors.

According to a BBC News article, the conservative mayor of Levallois-Perret decided to make the busy route D909 one-way to reduce the amount of commuter traffic through his district. He took this step without consulting with the other communities through which the D909 passed.

The Socialist mayor of neighbouring Clichy-la-Garenne said this increased congestion in his area. So instead of discussing the problem with Levallois-Perret's mayor, or considering if it would be beneficial to make his section of the route one-way in the same direction, he chose to make his section one-way in the opposite direction.

With the contradictory road-signs in place, the unsurprising result was gridlock, prompting the deployment of municipal and national police to direct traffic away from the area.

Personally I'm glad to see that the French can be just as disagreeable with each other as they can be with foreigners.

In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense and one of the chief engineers of the Iraqi War, "If you can't solve a problem, enlarge it." This strategy worked equally well in the Parisian suburbs as it did in Iraq.

A Nigerian man who says he cannot get a girlfriend because of his bad stutter has announced plans to marry his pillow, claims an article from Ananova.

Okeke Ikechukwu, a 26 year old laborer from Lagos, says that his stammer made it difficult for him to speak to girls. "Since I am a stutterer, ladies have always laughed at me whenever I try to talk to them," he said. "I have needs, and so I have taken to sleeping with my pillow in my arms ever since I was 16. I have grown to fall in love with it, and I intend to spend the rest of my life with it."

Mr Ikechukwu also said that, unlike a woman, the pillow would cost him little or nothing to maintain for the rest of its life. "I think it will make the ideal mate for me," he said.

This story brings up some interesting questions. First, what is the legal age of consent for a pillow in Nigeria? Mr Ikechukwu claims to have been "sleeping" with said pillow for the past 10 years. The age of the pillow is not stated, but he may well have been corrupting the morals of a minor pillow. One the other hand, this relationship began when Mr Ikechukwu was only 16, meaning that the pillow may have corrupted his morals.

Other questions which come to mind are, how is the gender of a pillow determined? Could Mr Ikechukwu have been sleeping all these years with a male pillow? Could this be a same-sex marriage? If however, the pillow is female, do the couple plan on having any children?

Also interesting would be to know whether the wedding will be a church or a civil ceremony? Has Mr Ikechukwu taken the pillow home to Lagos yet to meet his parents? And has Mr Ikechukwu yet traveled to the factory where the pillow was made to gain consent for his wedding?

All in all, although I've never met Mr Ikechukwu, I'd venture to guess that his problem with girls laughing at him are caused by a little more than just his stuttering.

Four children have been sent home this week from Gainesville Schools for being in violation of the school district's dress code. All of the children involved had been wearing shirts with an anti-Muslim statement, according to an article in the Gainesville Sun.

On their front, the T-shirts had a verse from the Gospel of John: "Jesus answered I am the way and the truth and the life; no one goes to the Father except through me," and this statement, "I stand in trust with Dove Outreach Center." The message "Islam is of the Devil" is on the back of the shirt.

One of the children involved, a 15 year old girl from Gainesville High School, said the decision to wear the shirt had been hers, and not her parents. She said the "devil" statement was aimed at Islam's beliefs and not its followers. She said, "The people are fine. The people are people. They can be saved like anyone else."

It's interesting what this girl had hoped that the believers of Islam could be saved from. Could they be saved from the hatred that her church was trying to spread? A more important question would be whether children who are members of the Dove Outreach Center could be saved from the narrow-minded teachings of their own church.

Although the child was trying to protect her parents in saying the decision was her own, her father showed that he was by no means above ignorant statements of his own, saying that society has grown "so tolerant of being tolerant" that free speech is eroding. In selectively protecting those parts of the Constitution that benefited him at the moment, this student's father apparently forgot that America not only has freedom of speech, but freedom of religion as well.

Some of the blame for the ignorance of the Dove Outreach Center's congregation must be placed with the church's Senior Pastor, Dr. Terry Jones, who said, to him, spreading the church's message was "even more important than education itself." When interviewed about an anti-Muslim sign in front of his church, Dr. Jones said, "The purpose of the sign is to expose Islam for what it is. It is a violent and oppressive religion that is trying to masquerade itself as a religion of peace."

It's my opinion that all organized religions are oppressive. While Islam may have had its share of violence and hypocrisy, Christianity is far from innocent itself. In fact, messages of hatred such as those of the Dove Outreach Center and the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, may place Christianity on the top of the hypocritical list.

Fortunately, the general population of Gainesville does not agree with the Dove Outreach Center's message of hatred, and according to an examiner.com article, they came out in droves to protest the sign.
People of all faiths and backgrounds came out with their own signs such as, "Who Would Jesus Hate?" "Love Thy Neighbor," and "God is Great. Love not Hate." The protesters have pledged to stay there until the sign comes down.

Pastor Eve MacMaster, of the Emmanuel Mennonite Church, said of the crowd of protesters, "I am blessed by these good people. They're great. Secularist, Muslim, Jewish, Christian whatever. This confirms my belief that this is a pretty good place to live."

Although America is a great country, in my opinion it's not quite as great as it could be. This doesn't mean that I don't love the country where I was born and raised - on the contrary. If I didn't love it I'd just move abroad and forget about it. But because I do love it, there are some things that I'd like to see changed to make it better.

Below are just a few of my thoughts as to some of the things wrong with America today. These are just my personal opinions, and I'll probably be adding more later. Please feel free to comment, even if you strongly disagree with me.

Thanks for reading.

1. Lack of a health care system in the USA that covers everyone.

For Congress and the wealthy, health care is not a problem. For the average individual however, health care is usually tied to employment. If the employee loses or changes his or her job, unless the partner is covered, health care for the entire family ends. Even if the new employment offers group insurance, there is a waiting period before it becomes effective and pre-existing conditions are not covered even then, for up to 12 months.

If someone is self-employed or works for a small company which doesn't offer group insurance, private insurance must be purchased. But most private insurance companies won't cover pre-existing conditions, and many policies are too expensive, resulting in the poor having no coverage at all.

Even with insurance, insurance companies can refuse to pay for procedures or medications that doctors deem necessary. The price of deductibles and co-pays can prevent some people with insurance from seeking medical care, not to mention out-of-network charges should an in-network hospital not be available for the care needed. Many Americans are just one medical emergency away from financial ruin.

The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee access to health care as a right of citizenship. After World War II, the systems of Europe were equalized and modernized, with the resources being more fairly distributed and everyone having access to health care and other programs necessary to a decent standard of living. Consequently most European countries have a better standard of living that does the USA. In America we hold on to our system which causes gross disparities in wealth, and those gross disparities enable those in control of the capital to keep the system in play. In America we still hold to the philosophy that the few have the right to profit from the labors of the many.

Many Americans consider social programs stealing. I however consider unchecked Capitalism stealing. Capitalism when allowed to run wild creates a winner take all situation, with those on the losing end winding up with nothing.

2. The Right To Bear Arms

This Right was written into the American Constitution over 200 years ago to allow citizens to stand up to a tyrannical government. It does not specify limits nor types of weapons that one can bear.

Considering the modern weaponry in the hands of today's military, citizens have no chance of defending themselves in the highly unlikely event that a tyrannical government should use the military for purposes of oppression. This in itself is cause to amend the Constitution. But the fact that no type of weapons was specified has led to the ownership of assault weapons being legal.

While I can see no harm in owning guns for hunting, there is no need for allowing the types and amounts of weapons that are in private hands today. The Constitution, as written, could be construed to allow private ownership of tanks and missiles. And there should be restrictions in place as to where they can be carried. The Texas Senate recently passed legislation allowing guns on university campuses. In my opinion, in addition to guns for hunting, handguns should only be legal for use in clubs or for protection of homes. They should not be allowed to be carried everywhere.

3. Idol Worship

America has an obsession with the lives of the rich and famous. Supermarket checkouts have dozens of magazines which keep us up to date on the lives of our celebrities, informing us of the current status of Brad and Angelina's relationship, or whether or not Paris took her dog to the opening of a new Hollywood Club where she wore her $25,000 dress, or whether Britney or Lindsay was pulled over for drunk driving. All while half of our population is living from paycheck to paycheck.

It seems that as the social fabric of America unwinds, we develop childish fantasies of immortality or ageless beauty, which we see in our celebrities. Americans would do far better to focus on their own lives than a select group of superficial individuals. If parents spent more time worrying about guiding the lives of their own children than following the lives of Brad and Angelina, some of our social problems may start to diminish.

4. Christian Fanaticism

Although most Christians are good and kind people, many have what I would consider fanatical beliefs when it comes to their religion. I'm not only talking about the belief that most Christian have in the words of the Bible, which a large number consider to be an accurate historical account of the world, but also some misguided beliefs such as "a good Christian home will ensure children with good moral values," or that "faith can fix anything," or that "God has a plan for all of our lives. "

Frightening too, is the dedication that many have for their church, even at the expense of their own families. While working as a manager for a large firm in one of the Southern States, I had the opportunity to offer five of my employees a chance to work one Sunday at triple pay. I had one employee who was in financial hardship and was having trouble feeding his family, so I saved one of the positions for him, thinking that he would jump at the chance at extra income. But to my surprise he turned it down, saying that he could not miss church. And on top of this, he "tithed," giving ten percent of his meager income to the church while his children did without. Another time one of my employees told me that his wife was angry at him because he had left her no money at home, and she had lost a chance to buy a blessing from their church.

I know that such extremes are more prevalent in the South, but they do exist elsewhere too, and in my opinion they're disturbing. I believe that those who believe in God would do better to try to form a more personal relationship with him from within their own hearts, then rely solely on the church and its interpretation of the Bible.

Please take some time to check out The Irate Dog, a blog which is "Trying desperately to become the meeting place of opinion and current events," - and in my opinion, is doing a damn good job of it.

Something for everyone. Anything from the environment, through religion to politics - on both sides of "The Pond" and beyond.

Thanks :)

An article in Live Science published this month (August 2009), claims that life expectancy in America is behind 30 other nations. The article goes on to say that US life expectancy gains may be pretty much over.

According to findings published in the online medical journal PLoS Medicine last year, life expectancy rates for a sizeable portion of the population leveled off and even reversed starting in the 1980s.

In a previous article published by Live Science, researchers claim the findings are troublesome, because life expectancy, along with infant mortality, is a major indicator of the health of a nation. A decline in life expectancy, as is seen during turmoil such as war and famine, is a sign that health and social systems are failing.

The worst hit regions are the Deep South, Appalachia and also the southern part of the Midwest reaching into Texas. The reasons, largely preventable with better diet and access to medical services, are diabetes, cancers and heart disease caused by smoking, high blood pressure and obesity.

Researchers warn that this failing trend could easily spread to the rest of the nation, meaning that for the first time in the history of this country, parents will have lived longer than their children.

As of the writing of the article, the United States, despite being the wealthiest country on earth, had a life expectancy behind that of Bosnia and Cuba. Although it has by far the highest level of health spending per capita in the world, the United States fails its poorest citizens, with about 36 million of them living below the poverty line. As a result, the U.S. healthcare system ranked 37th on a list of 191 systems compiled by the World Health Organization.

Nonetheless, millions of Americans, even the poor without access to medical care, fight any attempt by the government to change the health care system and better their lives.

An article from last year has reappeared on the BBC News page this week, describing the dismissal of an American lawsuit against God. The article refers to a lawsuit brought against God by a Nebraska Senator by the name of Ernie Chambers.

The lawsuit, originally filed on September 14, 2007, is described in an article from KETV News in Omaha. It states that Senator Chambers filed the lawsuit to prove a point about frivolous lawsuits, saying that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody -- even God. According to KETV, "the lawsuit admits God goes by all sorts of alias, names, titles and designations and it also recognizes the fact that the defendant is omnipresent."

The lawsuit went on to say that God had caused "calamitous catastrophes resulting in the wide-spread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants including innocent babes, infants, children, the aged and infirm without mercy or distinction."

The lawsuit asked the court to enter a permanent injunction enjoining God from engaging in the types of deleterious actions and the making of terroristic threats described in the lawsuit.

In my opinion, it's kind of sad that a Senator can waste time (and possibly tax dollars) in filing a lawsuit which he knew would produce no tangible results, save for getting his name in the newspapers. The court, in its defense of accepting the suit, claims that it had no choice, as the Constitution requires that all cases be accepted. However, a few days later, the court showed that it was by no means above acts of stupidity of its own.

According to Action 3 News of Omaha, God, or someone claiming to be God, responded to the lawsuit three days after its filing, saying that as he wasn't served by a deputy, the case should be thrown out.

"A one-page document showed up rather mysteriously at the Douglas County Courthouse yesterday. Everyone there knows about it...no one knows where it came from...and nobody knows what to make of it. At the bottom, the so-called defendant printed his name--God."

This in itself wouldn't be bad, for it shows that someone in the courthouse has a sense of humor. What's frightening here is that some people apparently took it seriously and alerted the media. Action 3 News's article states that Gordon Rieber in the Clerk of the District Court's office told a reporter, "It was on the counter in legal filing yesterday. No one saw it come in. She (an employee) turned her back and there it was. It could have been a miraculous situation."

Defense attorney James Martin Davis volunteered to be a witness. Referring to a heart attack he survived the previous year, he said, "He (God) hasn't called me yet! I knew there was a special reason I was saved. I didn't know it might be to represent God Almighty!" The article made no mention of how Davis could attest on God's behalf that God caused no fear through his numerous killings.

The lawsuit was finally dismissed in February 2008 after sitting on the books for five months. According to the aforementioned BBC News article, A US judge threw the case out, ruling that because God has no address, legal papers cannot be served. Chambers had been considering appealing on the grounds that the court had acknowledged the existence of God and a consequence of that acknowledgement is a recognition of God's omniscience. Said Chambers, "Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit."

So this brings up the question of what evidence did the court use to acknowledge the existence of God? The fact that his existence cannot be disproved should not be sufficient, just as an inability to disprove guilt does not necessarily prove it. Another question that arises is whether or not it is Nebraska policy to dismiss all cases in which the defendant has no address. Should this be the case, it would open the door for the homeless to go on sprees of raping, pillaging, or whatever suited their fancy.

On the evening of March 1, 2008, Gary Diego had to rush his wife to the hospital for an abrupt medical emergency. Insured, Diego rushed her to his insurance company’s in-network hospital. Unable to handle what was determined to be bleeding in the brain, the hospital quickly transferred her to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Neveda, where she spent 17 days in intensive care. While recovering, she caught pneumonia and died.

As the Reno hospital was not in his insurer's approved network, Diego learned from his insurer, Health Net, that he owed $75,462.77 in out of network charges. Further bills continued to arrive as Diego discovered that he also owed money to out-of-network doctors and testing laboratories for services not covered by insurance. All of this was on top of a $14,000 deductible he had chosen to keep his premiums down.

The article describing Diego's plight (which can be read in its entirety here), explains that in a practice known as balance billing, insurers pay a portion of the out-of-network charges, and the balance owed to hospitals and doctors is dumped on patients.

The article states as follows:

Until recently, the problems associated with out-of-network emergency care had received little attention. But now they’re being attacked on multiple fronts, with insurers, hospitals and doctors pointing fingers at each other, and patients stranded in the middle.

On Aug. 12, an insurance industry trade group released a
report saying some out-of-network doctors and charge much more than the negotiated fee they would collect in a network.

The group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, noted that out-of-network fees are not regulated and asked Congress to investigate the issue. None of the leading reform bills addresses the issue now

As stated in the article, Diego's case is an extreme example. As also stated in the article, consumers who are careful to choose in-network doctors and hospitals for their routine medical care often cannot choose where or how they are treated in an emergency. Even non-life-threatening emergencies when vacationing or visiting out of state can cause financial ruin, even for those with insurance.

And sometimes, even if patients are careful to remain within the network of their insurance provider, they can still incur additional costs. According to Dr. Richard Duszak, a radiologist in private practice in Memphis, Tenn., and an official with the American College of Radiology. “They (hospitals) tell you that they are an in-network provider, but they don’t tell you that the emergency room physicians are not in the network.”

With the current system that we have in America, unless we are extremely well off financially, we find ourselves dependent upon and at the mercy of our insurance providers. Yet despite being only a medical emergency away from financial disaster, opponents of universal health care continue to oppose it for fear of government takeover or lack of independence.

What universal health care would offer is peace of mind that we and our families could receive necessary treatment and care without the worry of how we could afford it. Having lived for years in the UK, where such a system is in place (NHS), I can report firsthand that I was free to choose my own doctor, discuss my treatment and medications with my doctor, see a specialist within a week, and have preventive procedures preformed at the local hospital with a wait of no more than a month. The taxes that I paid for access to the system were less than my group insurance premiums here in the USA. And all without hidden or additional costs such as co-pays, deductibles and out-of-network fees. If I or a family member fell ill on the other end of the country, our medical coverage was still in force, as it was if we became unemployed or retired. And our children remained covered, regardless of their age or student status.

And most of all, no one told me how to run my life. My standard of living was equal to or higher than in America, and I enjoyed the same freedoms that we have here (barring a "right" to carry handguns).

The bottom line is that universal health care would benefit not only the uninsured, but all who have to depend on insurance companies for their medical expenses.

According to an article posted in Live Science, the debate over President Obama's health care plan has more to do with illogical thought processes than reality. The article (which can be read in its entirety here), claims that people often work backward from firm conclusions to find supporting facts, rather than letting evidence play any part in their views.

Steve Hoffman, a professor of sociology at the University of Buffalo, claims that people get very attached to their beliefs, forming emotional attachments that get wrapped up in personal identities and senses of morality, irrespective of the facts of the matter. He believes that in an attempt to keep our sense of personal and social identity, we tend to use a backward type of reasoning in order to justify our beliefs. Hoffman goes on to say that just about everybody is vulnerable to the phenomenon of holding onto our beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Despite Hoffman's claim that anyone can be effected, his idea is based on a study of nearly 50 participants, who were all Republican and reported believing in the link between the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Saddam Hussein. Although given mounting evidence that no link existed, all but one participant held on to the belief. According to Hoffman, "For these voters, the sheer fact that we were engaged in war led to a post-hoc search for a justification for that war. People were basically making up justifications for the fact that we were at war."

Although I find this study interesting, I find it equally interesting that a study had to be done to learn what was already evident. Over 6 years after the war started, despite overwhelming evidence that it was unjustified, a large percentage of the population continues to support it with reasoning that rational people simply cannot understand. What's sad is that, assuming that this study is true, a large portion of the masses will continue to believe that universal health care means takeover and dependency on the government. Despite the evidence otherwise, any attempt to sway their opinion will be futile.

The article also says that past research by Dolores Albarracin, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has shown that people who are less confident in their beliefs are more reluctant to consider opposing perspectives. Therefore, these people avoid counter evidence all together. In another article (which can be read here), Albarracin says, "Close-minded people are very certain and dogmatic in their views, and generally believe that there is a single correct point of view." The article goes on to say that these people are more reluctant to look at different viewpoints regarding political, religious or ethical values.

As with Hoffman's study, Albarracin's study of close-minded people is interesting but was quite unnecessary. A five minute conversation with most Christians would bring anyone to the same conclusion.

"Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets."
--Napoleon Bonaparte


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