Category Archives: Good Government

The sad, selfish argument against healthcare

Senate GOP Healthcare bill

In the current debate over Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one of the saddest arguments to be heard is the one that goes, “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” Such an argument gets many things wrong at once, both intellectually and morally.

First, the entire concept of insurance is a pooling of funds and risk, so that everyone is literally paying for someone else, and vice versa. For example, in South Florida, one is told that car insurance rates are high for all residents because there are many claims due to the large number of tourists getting into trouble with rental cars on unfamiliar roads. Many local residents would rightfully object to paying higher rates for others’ accidents, but that is how insurance works. The idea, however, is that costs are kept down by pooling the risk, for example, such that middle-aged drivers might pay more than they get back in claims, but when they are both very young and very old, they are much more likely to have more claims, so the system balances out. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act (based on a conservative idea from the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts) incorporates premiums paid by younger people, who generally have fewer claims, going more to older and sicker people, but such young people of course could get into a serious accident or become sick themselves any time, plus they are likely to have more claims as they age. Thus, the idea of “why am I paying for someone else?” may only be true for a brief moment.

Social media coverage of Hurricane Harvey brings Americans together

Driver receives assistance in Pearland, TX during Hurricane Harvey

This past weekend, Twitter and Facebook posts about the Mayweather-McGregor fight gave way to posts about Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas, and causing tremendous flooding devastation. Since then, as more traditional media such as broadcast and cable TV news are making admirable efforts on the scene with live reporting (and even some rescue work), social media users are sending around gobs of information, donation and volunteering tips, and rescue requests. Here are some of the highlights of social media activity in Houston, around the U.S. and in other countries as well:

Democrats finally come up with a positive theme

President Franklin Roosevelt, who called his agenda the “Fair Deal”

This week, Democratic Party leaders finally revealed their positive unifying agenda for America. On Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the second highest-ranking elected Democrat, published an op-ed in the Washington Post. Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Democrat, published his op-ed in the New York Times. The Democrats are calling their plan “A Better Deal.”  According to Schumer’s op-ed:

Democrats will show the country that we’re the party on the side of working people — and that we stand for three simple things. First, we’re going to increase people’s pay. Second, we’re going to reduce their everyday expenses. And third, we’re going to provide workers with the tools they need for the 21st-century economy.

Climate change hits home

 

“Burn Notice” TV program filming disrupted by Miami Beach flooding

There have been a spate of articles in recent months demonstrating that climate change is now hitting homeowners, business owners and local governments square in the pocketbooks. While Florida is the tip of the spear on climate change due to its low elevation and prevalence of water, folks in other states as disparate as Vermont are feeling it too. Americans have a track record that, when things affect us monetarily, it becomes a tipping point where people call for action. We are now reaching that tipping point.

How to get back at Trump for pulling us out of Paris Climate Agreement

Flooding in Miami Beach, Florida

As many people feared, Donald Trump yesterday withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that was signed by 195 nations. Trump has added America to an extremely short list of outliers, including only Syria and Nicaragua. However, all is not doom and gloom as a result of Trump’s bad decision. First, plenty of state officials and companies will continue their commitment to fight climate change, for example, by deploying more clean energy such as solar and wind power. Second, there are many efforts each of us can make to bridge the climate change gap that Donald Trump is creating:

Steve Wozniak: Corporations regulate us

Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak

Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak wasn’t known in his youth as a public speaker. He was always the shy one, letting his gregarious partner Steve Jobs do the talking, with amazing results. However, in his first TEDx talk in Brussels in 2012 (a year after Jobs died), Wozniak let go some passionate free thinking about corporations that is very relevant today, and which should perk up the ears of all progressives. More than once in his speech, Wozniak said that corporations “regulate” us.

United Airlines violence toward passenger: how should we respond?

United Airlines' not-so-friendly skies

United Airlines’ not-so-friendly skies

One of the most talked-about news stories this week is how United Airlines “bumped” a passenger from its Chicago to Louisville flight on Sunday, and then literally bumped him off the plane when he refused to leave. As at least one writer explained clearly, the United episode is a result of the oligopoly that airlines have, with government approval of laws, rules and mergers that give airlines economic, and even physical, power over passengers. Given this airline power, the question becomes, how should consumers and voters respond? Here are a few ideas:

The allure of the phony Republican anecdote

Surf and Turf, a staple of food stamp recipients' diets according to GOP.

Surf and Turf, a staple of food stamp recipients’ diets according to GOP.

Humans are a storytelling species. Thus, it’s no surprise that narratives — essentially, ongoing story lines — are an important part of successful political communication. In Messaging Maxim #4: Feed the Narrative, we mentioned that it is valuable to:

craft a true but negative story about your opponents’ ideas, actions or positions, and then look for statements or actions by them that you can point to as furthering that narrative.

Republicans are very good at constructing narratives (for example, “Scary Brown People”); however, many Republican narratives are false. That’s why you will see the GOP using anecdotes, i.e., possibly false or possibly true stories involving as few as one person, to further their phony narratives, rather than citing any meaningful facts, evidence or accurate math.

President Obama’s high-water mark

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Barack Obama is leaving office on a high note. Many people might not remember what it was like when Obama took office in January 2009. The Bush Recession was underway, and America was losing 779,000 jobs per month. Stores were closing. Restaurants were empty. And our treasury was also empty (in fact, trillions in debt) from Bush’s disastrous Iraq War. Obama, with no help from the Republicans, turned things around to the point where he will be turning over a country that, by most objective measures, is doing very well. Let’s take a look at some of those numbers, so that we will have a comparison for the future:

John Glenn, Good Government hero

NASA astronauts John Glenn (C), Alan Shepard (R) and Gus Grissom (L)

NASA astronauts John Glenn (C), Alan Shepard (R) and Gus Grissom (L)

John Glenn, one of America’s heroes of the 20th Century, died last Thursday at age 95. Glenn was a highly decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War, rising to the level of Colonel. Then, as immortalized in the book and movie “The Right Stuff,” Glenn was chosen as one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts, where he became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. Glenn went on to serve four terms as a U.S. Senator from Ohio, and he even returned to space at age 77, the oldest person ever to do so. In between, Glenn ran for president in the 1984 Democratic Party primaries.

What do all of John Glenn’s heroic accomplishments have in common? They were all done as part of the U.S. Government.