Health Insurance is the Catalyst for Consensus ©

They walk among us; they have for decades. There are millions of them. Some are tall, others short. There are those that are thin and those that are stout. Amid the crowd are the well off, the middle class, and the poor. Most are gainfully employed; a few are temporarily out of work. Several are young, a smaller number are younger. Countless are middle-aged. They are our friends, our family, and our neighbors and at times, they may be us. Who are they? They are the uninsured. At any given moment, millions of American citizens have no health insurance.

  • According to Families USA, in 2002, close to 75 million Americans, under the age of 65 went without health insurance for a time. In 2003, the United States Census Bureau calculated that the number was nearly 82 million. In both cases, this represents more than one-third of the population.
  • The National Coalition on Health Care, states the number of uninsured Americans rose between 2002 and 2003. 1.4 million were added to the tally. The numbers continue to rise.
  • In 2003, 24 percent of the uninsured citizens were without health insurance for a full two years.

    We watch the numbers grow daily, yearly, and while people speak of doing something to stop the swelling, nothing gets done. For years, there were those that wanted to talk of the burgeoning problem. There were those that were empathetic to the plight of the uninsured.

    Decades ago Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy began speaking of his concern; then, in 1993, First Lady Hillary Clinton came on board. Each proposed universal health care. However, for many Americans, capitalism is ideal and universal health insurance smacks of socialism.

    Financial facts were ignored. In Europe, medicine is state sponsored; all citizens receive medical services. In the United States, less than a quarter of the population receives publicly funded medical benefits. Yet, Europeans spend less to serve their entire population than Americans do to serve a few. Nonetheless, logic belies. Americans refuse to acknowledge that we as a nation are spending more and receiving less. At least they did not; however, that was then.

    Now, health care costs are escalating; they are affecting businesses and industry, deeply. Profits are being lost and business executives are reluctantly admitting that they no longer compete in the world-market or even within the United States. Company chairs blame high health care cost and the expense of providing health insurance.

    With these admissions, it seems the tide is turning, though ever so slowly. On December 10, 2004, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association sponsored a symposium. A dozen or more business executives met to discuss health care reform. Larry Johnston, Chief Executive of the supermarket chain Albertsons was among these. In speaking of the nation’s health care crisis, Johnston said, “It’s frightening what this could do to our country,” Johnston portends that “spiraling health care costs, if unchecked, would bankrupt the nation.”

    Currently, health care costs are equal to almost 15% of our Gross Domestic Product. With the advent of the Medicare prescription drug program, increases will be greater. By 2012, health care is expected to take up nearly 20 percent of the GDP, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In the last five years, inflation has increased by 2.5 percent; yet, health costs are 11.5 percent higher. The discrepancy is noteworthy.

    In this meeting, executive participants acknowledged that in an entrepreneurial society such as ours “businesses are forced to shoulder most of the load.”

  • Yet, in 2003, a third of American businesses offered no health care benefits!
  • Two-thirds of all employees work for companies that do not offer health benefits.
  • Smaller establishments employ 38 percent of our labor force and only one-third of these offer any health care options.
  • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated that employment-based health benefits are less likely. In 1987, 70 percent of workers were recipients. In 2004, only 61 percent of the Americans received assistance.

    Entrepreneurs attending this December conference mutually concede; health insurance costs are central to the problem of health care in America. William Brody, president of Johns Hopkins University and a trained physician, declared, “It’s ridiculous! We’re saddling corporations with the burden of health care. People are not connecting bankruptcy of corporations to health care costs.” Yet, the link is clear.

    The link between health care costs and corporate failures is certain. We hear and read of the struggles daily. Industries such as steel and airlines are barely surviving. You may recall the recent debacles at Bethlehem Steel and United Airlines. Many speculate that the auto industry will be next. Ford and General Motors numbers reflect this reality. Financiers are fearful for the future of General Motors Corporation. We all remember the old adage, “As GM goes, so goes the country.” If this axiom is true, the fate of America is in doubt. Straits may be dire.

    President of GM North America, Gary Cower attended this symposium. While there he shared his truth, “We spend more for health care than we do on steel. It’s probably the biggest competitive issue we face.” The company’s last annual report, told this same tale. The review stated, “This is a crisis!” The assessment noted that $5.2 billion was spent on health insurance costs. The company recognizes this has “a tremendous impact” on profitability. GM accepts that they can no longer compete in the marketplace. It seems that all American companies agree; the cost of health care in the United States hurts businesses globally.

    Business leaders, corporate bigwigs, executives, and health care industry leaders submit, they must effectively communicate the seriousness of the health care crisis. They must convey their message to those in power. Fred Smith, founder and Chief Executive Officer of FedEx offered, “I personally think at the end of the day the only thing that would get this thing off center is for a very large part of Corporate America to simply say to the president and say to the majority leaders, ??If you don’t fix this, there’s not going to be a damn job in manufacturing in this country.'” The problem is ubiquitous, though health care is not.

    Manufacturing is not the only group that experiences the effects of this crisis. Businesses that pay all or a portion of employee health care premiums are fraught with fear; costs are staggering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics affirms employee health benefits are now 7 percent of total wages. They expect that in 2014, benefits will comprise 25 percent of employee salaries.

    Institutions are also experiencing an expenditure crisis. School districts and other educational organizations are spending billions merely to support contractual agreements. Improvements in education are impaired; monies must be spent on health insurance and medical care. Shopkeepers are struggling as well. The cost of good health care does not come cheaply for anyone.

    As the committee continued to discuss, they accepted, “greater efficiency will reduce costs,” however, it would not fix the problem. “Constant supply and insatiable demand will keep pushing prices higher if the underlying dynamics are not changed.” The representatives acknowledged that workers could not and would not bare the burden. Solutions must be found elsewhere. As reported by Chief Executive Group, LP, unexpectedly, yet ultimately, theses executives concluded, “Government must help businesses make the marketplace work.”

    On Saturday, May 28, 2005, the New York Times reported, “Health Leaders Seek Consensus Over the Uninsured.” Apparently, another group had been formulated and while this group may have reached consensus among itself; there is no consensus between the two committees,

    This second assemblage first met in October. This group was comprised of “24 ideologically disparate leaders representing the health care industry, corporations, and unions.” Members were both conservative and liberal. Families USA represented the more liberal. The Heritage Foundation represented conservatives. Members from the United States Chamber of Commerce and American Association of Retired Persons were present. Council from the AFL-CIO was also there.

    One would think that this latter group was one, of, by, and for the people, at least more so than the former. After all, there were health care workers, union members, and those of liberal leanings at this gathering. One might expect that these would remember the millions, the well off, the middle class, and the poor. They would consider the gainfully employed and the temporarily unemployed. They would recall the tall, the short, the thin, and the stout. They likely know the young, and the younger. They are familiar with the uninsured. At one time, they may have been among them. Yet, this group seems to have forgotten. Their recommendations suggest this.

    As I assess the plan that this second group proposes, it seems lacking. They ask the federal government to serve as enforcer, enforcing a mandate that people must be insured. People that are barely able to afford health care and health insurance are expected to do so. Yes, this council recommends tax breaks for the poor. However, tax breaks do not pay the bills.

    It seems that the committee of Chief Executives was more sensitive to the truth of the situation. These business leaders did ultimately acknowledge the power of unity. They accepted that we as a nation are stronger when all factions work together. From my reading, it seems that health care leaders ignore this possibility. They seem to seek temporary solace and not true and permanent solutions.

    However, I ask you to please, assess the health care leaders plan for yourself. I ask that as you do, remember the millions that are your friends, family, and neighbors, those that do not have health insurance. Do you truly believe that these options will benefit them? I do not.

  • The federal government could require parents to arrange health insurance for their children up to a certain age, say 21. If the children were not eligible for public programs like Medicaid, the parents could obtain tax credits to help meet the cost.
  • If an employer does not offer health benefits to employees, the workers could designate amounts to be withheld from their paychecks, along with taxes. These amounts would eventually be forwarded to insurers to pay premiums.
  • The federal government could provide tax credits to low-income individuals and families or small businesses to help them pay for insurance. The full amount of the credit would be sent directly to the insurer.
  • Medicaid could be expanded to cover any adult with income below the official poverty level (about $9,600 for an individual). Each state would decide for itself whether to do this, and the federal government would provide financial incentives for states to take the option.
  • The federal government would offer small grants to states to help them establish insurance purchasing pools. Individuals and small businesses could buy coverage through these pools.

    Health Care is on the minds of many, Kos, of Daily Kos writes GM loss, Wal-Mart, and universal health care

  • The Satiated Stomach, The Study of Food © [Chapter Five]

    copyright © 2005 Betsy L. Angert

    She filled her home with food.  She shopped daily.  Her cupboards were full.  She back-stocked; yet, there was never enough.  What food would tickle her fancy?  Which delicacies would she desire most?  What might she indulge in and would these cause her stomach to bulge, even after she emptied it?

    She studied food, the way it sat in her stomach and the smoothness with which it came up.  Once downed, was she able to bring it all up again?  Would parts linger in her belly?  If the morsels did not come up in full, how long would they remain within?  Would she be able to rid herself of all the food or only portions?  What nutrients would be absorbed and what calories?

    One day she overheard a neighbor speak of bulimia.  Why was this woman discussing this?  The young lady mentioned that bulimics destroy their teeth.  Is that true?  Would she be different?

    She recalled how her habit had almost immediately affected her hair.  She once had very, very, very long hair; it was extremely thick and wavy.  A short time after she started satiating her stomach and then emptying it, she noticed that her hair changed.  It thinned.  It went straight.  She had always wanted thinner and straighter hair, though now that she had it, she realized that it was not as she preferred.  However, it was too late.  She was locked into this habit, or so it seemed.

    She wanted to stop and yet, she did not believe that she could.  She tried.  She cried, though rarely.  The best part of eating endlessly and then throwing-up was that it took time, a lot of time if it were to be done well.  She was a very thorough person; she would do it well.  This left little time for thinking.  Well, that had been her hope.

    It was not true.  She found herself bingeing and purging for hours.  Nonetheless, there was still time.  No matter how many moments were spent focusing on food, there was still time to think.  She thought.

    Initially, the process released her from feeling; however, ultimately, it left her feeling more, more cautious, more fearful, less fulfilled, and less perfect.  Knowing or thinking that she could not stop, oh, that was another feeling.  That feeling never seemed to fade.

    [Chapter Five in a Series.]

    Please peruse Chapters One through Six, if you choose.

  • The Beginning. Bulimia and Becoming [Chapter One]
  • Bulimia. A Bit Becomes a Binge [Chapter Two]
  • Binges Build A Being, Separate From Self [Chapter Three]
  • Hiding the Food. Hiding The Feelings, Hiding Me [Chapter Four]
  • The Satiated Stomach. The Study Of Food [Chapter Five]
  • Bulimia. Wait! It is Not My Weight [Chapter Six]
    Or Similar Discussions . . .

  • When Will I Be Right? Is It Ever Okay To Be Me?
  • Weight. Balancing Fat with Feelings, Habits With Health
  • In Memory Of Our Soldiers. Bush, “Mindful” of War ©

    On this Memorial Day 2005, as on memorials days in the past, I feel such sorrow.  I wish that we were memorializing peace and not war, the living and not those that have passed.  I wish that we were as our current President often espouses, “mindful.”  My regret is that we, as a nation, speak of harmony while creating conflict.  We talk of negotiations and then often forego diplomatic measures.  We fight wars to end all wars, and we do this repeatedly.

    Today, in honor of the “holiday” my mind drifts.  I contemplate the meaning of this homage.  I believe that this day is intended for reflection and remembrance.  It is a day to recall all of our fallen heroes, those that served in every war.  It is a time to reflect upon “battles” and to consider the lives lost.  On this occasion, we might ponder what we treasure.  Our thoughts will undoubtedly turn to families, those that grieve the loss of their sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers, and know that they will see them no more.  At present, my hope is that we will think about the tragedy of having not learned from history.

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
    ~ George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

    In recent years, our President and his pundits have decided to unilaterally attack, to bomb, to kill, and to maim, as nations of people protest.  The United States declared and engages in war.  This action was and is taken in the name of “democracy.”  American principals profess “goodness” and then, aggressively they order our youth to fight to the death.  The President of the United States speaks of the importance of “God.”  He claims there is “evil” and that we must destroy it.  Yet, for me, the idea of destruction is vice.  The result: Memorial Day.

    In memorial, President Bush addresses the issue of “war.”  He talks of our “courageous soldiers.”  Mr. Bush expresses thoughts of “prayer,” and “world peace.”  He discusses “democracy” and as our president speaks, I listen.  I am reminded of how often his constructs seem limited in scope.  President Bush proudly proclaims that he is a simple man, a straight talking man, and apparently, he is.  His visions are often “black or white.”  “Right or wrong.”  He muses that “you are either with us or against us.”  He says this as he expresses a desire to create coalitions.

    For George W. Bush, people and precepts are “good” or they are “evil.”  Governments are democratic or ruled by tyrants.  There is no in-between for this, our self-proclaimed “mindful” President. Today, as I hear his words, I am again perplexed.  My confusion is this.

    Quite some time ago, I purchased a book titled “Mindfulness.”  Professor Ellen J. Langer, Ph.D., of Harvard University is the author.  The copyright for this book was awarded in1989.  On days such as today, I feel a need to I turn to this book again.  I open to Chapter One, “When the Light is On and Nobody’s Home;” I read and reflect.  I recall recent rhetoric and I wonder of Mr. Bush and his frequent use of the term, “mindful.”

    Langer begins by discussing how we are “Trapped by Categories.”  She writes, ” We experience the world by creating categories and making distinctions among them.”  For instance, “This is a Chinese, not a Japanese vase,” or as President Bush might say of Iraq and did in his 2002 State of the Union address, “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil.”  George W. Bush is certain of this construct.  He has classified Iraq as “evil” and it is, for him, as he often declares, “just that simple.”

    Dr. Langer continues, “Without categories the world might seem to escape us.”  She states, “Tibetan Buddhist call this [the] habit of the mind, “The Lord of Speech.”  The Tibetan Buddhists define this practice, “We adopt sets of categories which serve as ways of managing phenomena.  The most fully developed products of this tendency are ideologies, the systems of ideas that rationalize, justify, and sanctify our lives.  Nationalism, communism, existentialism, Christianity, Buddhism all provide us with identities, rules of action, and interpretations of how and why things happen.”

    Langer expands and expounds; she states, “The creation of new categories, is a mindful activity.  Mindlessness sets in when we rely too rigidly on categories and distinctions created in the past.”  Examples of these might be, “We are good; they are evil.”  “We are right; they are wrong.”  “Saddam Hussein delivers ??lies, deceptions, and defiance.'”  I could offer a host of other Bushisms.  However, the list is endless.

    Professor Langer writes, “Once distinctions are created, they take on a life of their own.”  The categories we make gather momentum and are very hard to overthrow.  We build our own and shared realities and then become victims of them ?” blind to the fact that they are constructs, ideas.”

    Dr. Langer cautions us, “To be mindless is to be trapped in a rigid world”; and thus my real concern.  From the beginning, specifically since September 11, 2001, Mr. Bush stated, “War is my absolute last option.”  Yet, I wonder.  I ask.  If war is an option, an idea, or a possibility cemented in ones mind, does it not gain momentum?  Does it not become a reality, one that when expressed often enough is ultimately shared?

    Might this reflection be the lesson that we have yet to learn from the past?  As long as we believe war is an option, do we not continue to contemplate it, to pursue it, and ultimately to create it?  Is this not the cause for conflict?  If we were to release ourselves from this belief, if we were to eliminate this category from our minds, might we never observe another day that memorializes our fallen war heroes?  Might we begin to actively honor peace?  My hope is that soon, some day very soon, Memorial Day will not honor the passing of lives, but instead honor a long ago past, one that will never be repeated.

    Armando of Daily Kos shares his reflections on Memorial Day

    AlterNet, The Silent Media Curse of Memorial Day By  Norman Solomon is another good read.

    “Reinvented Slavery,” “Illegal” Immigration ©

    Today, as I listened to author and border expert Charles Bowden, I was mesmerized.  His melodic tone did not capture my attention.  His words were spoken almost without articulation.  The breathy sound of his voice did not draw me in.  However, one could only connect to that hum.  It was what he said that affected me.

    Mr. Bowden was speaking of the Undocumented War, illegal immigration.  In discussing the “economic forces that drive a seemingly endless migration,” Bowden mentioned the “biological unity” of all men.  He noted the physical separation that man-made borders create.  These boundaries divide us.  Bowden offered that our Mexican American perimeter “is a war zone, only no one will admit to the war.”  He suggested that we do not “even have the decency to count the causalities.”

    Bowden reflects, “no one wants to talk about” what is; it is “the unspeakable problem.”  He states that “we pretend” to offer possible solutions, and all the while avoid the real answers.  We do not penalize employers at exorbitant rates for employing the undocumented.  We do not monitor companies hiring practices well, nor do we endeavor to do so enthusiastically.  Therefore, businesses continue to hire those that they need, at prices they are willing to pay.  For, in the mind of entrepreneurs, these persons are disposable.  They are liquid assets.

    Charles Bowden speaks of Americans; he states that we willingly create a second class of citizens.  These substandard beings are expected to work and yet not vote.  They are not given the means to organize; nor are they allowed to complain.  Employers “tolerate” the illegals, pretending not to know of their status.  Business “can cheat” the Mexican migrants, “pay them miserable wages, and abuse them.”

    Mr. Bowden declares that until we discuss the problems within Mexico, those that affect us all, globally, until we all work to create a strong economic base in Mexico, strong enough to support the people that reside there, we will continually “reinvent slavery.”

    This conversation aired on National Pubic Radio, in a program sponsored by American Public Media.  Appropriately enough, it can be heard on Marketplace.  I thought it an excellent piece, thought provoking, and gripping.  Please indulge, listen, and enjoy the reflection.

    As Greenspan Goes, The Great Society Part II ©

    Alan Greenspan is considered the master of money; his words can and do cause the stock market to move.  Greenspan is thought to be an economic guru.  His forecasts shape the future of America, and the future of the world.  Many consider it noteworthy that Greenspan served under several presidents, Republicans and Democrats alike.  He was a Federal Reserve Board member under Nixon, Ford, and Reagan and in 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed him as chair.  All presidents have done the same ever since.  Some believe Greenspan is independent and bipartisan, however, the Federal Reserve Chairman has his loyalties.  “Economic well being for all” is not among these.

    Alan Greenspan is a man of principles; principally he is a follower of “rational hedonism.”  While Mr. Greenspan has long been a civil servant, his most significant service may have taken place during his formative years. It may be argued that his earlier employ was not the most important, nonetheless, few can dispute that it was the most influential.

    Alan Greenspan was an associate and disciple for author and philosopher Ayn Rand.  Ms. Rand advocates and writes of “The Virtue of Selfishness.”  She actively promotes individualism.  Rand rejects the notion of government.  Essayist Rand rebuffs the basics of democracy.  She unabashedly rebukes the idea of the Great Society; it is contrary to all that she believes.  She supports “Objectivism.”  She states that her “philosophy is, in essence, the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life.”  Encouraging independence is the Rand mission.

    Ayn Rand denounces religion.  She speaks out against compulsory charity.  She expresses strident disapproval for government regulations.  In her book, “Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal” she suggests that “altruist” are the embodiment of “evil.”  She thinks restrictions inhibit businesses and businesses are the foundation for a flourishing society.  Rand considers inflation iniquitous; she explains that government is its source.

    Inflation is not caused by the actions of private citizens, but by the government: by an artificial expansion of the money supply required to support deficit spending.  No private embezzlers or bank robbers in history have ever plundered people’s savings on a scale comparable to the plunder perpetrated by the fiscal policies of statist governments.

    Ayn Rand, “Who Will Protect Us From Our Protectors?” The Objectivist Newsletter, May 1952

    Ayn Rand declares, “Government has no obligation to the less fortunate.”  This last statement endears her to elitists, extremists, ultra-conservatives, neo-conservatives, and those such as Alan Greenspan.

    Mr. Greenspan’s involvement with Ayn Rand was not superficial; nor was it from afar.  In 1950, after completing his Master of Arts degree, Alan Greenspan joined the Ayn Rand Institute.  For more than twenty years, Mr. Greenspan penned the Rand newsletter.  Greenspan also authored a chapter in one of Ms. Rand’s books!  In other words, Greenspan wrote and spoke prolifically for “Social Darwinism”!

    Greenspan was able to capture the theories of Rand and avidly spread these.  It was easy for him; he did it effortlessly, for these viewpoints were his own.  Rand and Greenspan discuss “survival of the fittest.”  They each believe that the strongest endure; they regret that the remainder might not live on; however, they consider this necessary.

    As an enthusiast for the supremacy of entrepreneurship, Alan Greenspan went on to work for only the finest corporations.  Mr. Greenspan served on the Board of Directors for many; he worked with Mobil Oil, Morgan Guaranty and Trust, and JP Morgan and Company.  Think tanks asked him to advise.  Over the years, Mr. Greenspan received numerous tributes and trophies.  He experienced many triumphs, interestingly, many of these as a civil servant.  He was and is a man working within the “government,” an organization that he longed claimed to disdain.

    As Federal Reserve Chairman, during the Clinton years, Alan Greenspan was anointed the “Great Economic Guru.”  He is credited with reducing the federal deficit.  This acknowledgement helped to secure his current reign.  Initially there was doubt, “Would George W. Bush choose to work with the Clinton maharishi?”  Ultimately, he chose to do so.

    It seems the two are a pair.  In 2005, Greenspan often speaks in support of presidential proposals; he has since the president took office in 2001.  Early on, this surprised many; however, upon reflection, there is no reason for skepticism.  George W. Bush and Alan Greenspan each, share a strong belief in rational hedonism.

    Mr. Bush has long been a follower; from the first, his lifestyle has defined his conviction.  Now, under the auspices of the George W. Bush Whitehouse, Mr. Greenspan has allowed himself to be who he is.  In 2001, Alan Greenspan supported the President’s proposed tax cut; he knew that this action would benefit the wealthy and the already strong.  However, that is consistent with his faith in “Social Darwinism.”  Yes, Greenspan acknowledged, a reduction in taxes would likely create a budget deficit, but no matter, the fittest will survive.

    In 2005, Alan Greenspan voices his desire for privatizing the Social Security system.  He admits the plan will not increase national savings; he accepts that individual accounts will not bring solvency to a struggling structure.  Nevertheless, it will enrich the investors that he favors.  Unexpectedly, he does confess to a difference with the junior Bush; Greenspan does not condone the necessary borrowing of trillions to implement the plan.  Still, he offers his support.

    At present, in May 2005, we experience another Greenspan delight.  Acting on his and the President’s desire to privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Mr. Greenspan knowingly withheld information that might question and calm stated concerns for the health of the systems.  He would not wish the poor to secure home loans; that might better their positions.  You may recall, in the world of Greenspan, “Government has no obligation to the less fortunate.”

    For Mr. Greenspan, Mr. Bush, and all the other elitists and extremist that sponsor, “The Virtue of Selfishness”; might does make right.  Greenspan and persons of his ilk are not republicans; nor are they libertarians.  They are not independents; they are the true “Greens.”  Look at their [green] back$ and their “forward thinking statements,” all green!

    My thanks MaxSpeak for the inspiring this reflection! WHY ALAN GREENSPAN IS UNFIT FOR PUBLIC OFFICE

    Puppet, President of Afghan, or Psychology Student? ©

    On May 23, 2005, Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with United States President George W. Bush.  They walked together, talked together, and shared a podium.  They held a joint press conference.  Afghani Leader, Karzai was brilliant.  He played the American President, performed for the press, and did nothing to upset American citizens.  He was apologetic, understanding, empathetic, and endearing.

    Mr. Bush glowed as he publicly presented the Middle Eastern president to the press and the American viewing audience.  Bush has long held a strong desire to spread democracy throughout the lands; he considers this his mission.  He regards Mr. Karzai as a symbol of his own success.  As the two presidents stood together in front of the cameras and the nation, United States President Bush proudly proclaimed Hamid Karzai as the first democratically elected leader in Afghanistan’s 5000-year history.

    The two presidents appeared in harmony.  They exhibited unity.  They massaged their messages and assuaged any concerns of conflict between them.  They each attempted to smother talk of sore points that had existed.  However, President Karzai did this much better than Mr. Bush did.

    Karzai expressed admiration for America and Americans.  He stated, “The people of the United States are very kind people.”  He continued.  “It is only one or two individuals who are bad and such individuals are found in any military in any society everywhere, including Afghanistan.”  President Bush acknowledged these words with appreciation.

    Mr. Bush smiled warmly.  He spoke of his “faith in the future of Afghanistan,” his “faith in the ability of democracy to provide hope,” and his “faith” in this Afghani leader.  George W. Bush stated that Karzai “showed tremendous courage in the face of difficult odds.”  He pointed to Afghanistan as “a shining example of what is possible in the Middle East.”

    The mutual admiration progressed; forgiveness blossomed.  The President of Afghanistan dismissed any notion of blame.  When asked specifically of the 2002 incident at Bagram Prison, he assured the audience that he did not fault the United States for atrocities inflicted by American soldiers.  Recently, it was reported that Afghan detainees held at this US military outpost were badly beaten by American soldiers; two lives were lost.  Karzai responded, “The prisoner abuse thing is not at all a thing we attribute to anybody else but those individuals.  The Afghan people are grateful, very, very much to the American people, and recognize that individual acts do not reflect either on governments or on societies.  These things happen everywhere.”  Mr. Bush was pleased.

    George W. Bush was swollen with pride as the conference continued.  He was glad to be part of this historic event.  Today, the two presidents signed a “strategic partnership.”  The objective was to present a unified front, an alliance, and to demonstrate how democracy delivers us from evil.  To this end, the Whitehouse invited 900 members of the now free, Afghan press corp.  Officials were hoping to feature an Afghani press sitting alongside its American contingent.  However, this did not happen.

    Only one newspaper reported traveled from Afghanistan to the United States; 900 Afghani journalists were left behind.  Their voyage was prohibited.  President Karzai feared that once in the United States these correspondents would wish to stay, they would not return to their homeland.  He dreaded embarrassment, and thus, the truth unfolds.  Finally, the reality of this exchange was exposed.  All is not well; nor is it democratic.

    The Afghan President and the United States President have their differences.  Days prior to this public display, President Karzai addressed to his own people.  He told the Afghani community that he would press the President of the United States; he would strongly state his case.  He would ask Mr. Bush to turn over Afghan prisoners.  He would propose that American authorities consult with Afghan officials before they raid Afghan dwellings and villages.  Karzai intent was to plea, it is not proper to enter our homes or cities without permission.  Karzai proposed to express his concern; searches for insurgents need not be so disruptive and dismissive of the Afghan people and their rights.  He would declare that in a democracy forced entry was not the norm and if Afghan were to truly symbolize a democracy then it must stand up for democratic principles.

    Though Karzai was elegant, eloquent, diplomatic, and persuasive, President Bush was as he is; he was summarily dismissive, demeaning, and deleterious.  Mr. Bush stated that American troops would stay and execute as they had.  Bush alluded to his empathic stance.  He said that the Afghans lacked resources to detain some prisoners.  Bush claimed that the United States policy was “to consult,” to speak with Afghan officials of their “mutual goals.”  However, for Mr. Bush “consultation” connotes “conquer.”

    Nonetheless, President Karzai continues to play, to be the puppet to this American President.  He waits, he wishes, and he is patient.  If Karzai is indeed, as he appeared to be today, a student of psychology, if he is a diplomat, and if he can persevere, then perhaps, he will no longer be a pawn.  Possibly, he will be able to serve as the sole President of Afghanistan.

    You may wish to read, New York Times, Afghan President Declines to Blame U.S. for Abuse By Timothy William.

    Hiding the Food. Hiding The Feelings, Hiding Me [Chapter Four]

    copyright © 2005 Betsy L. Angert

    It began so innocently and it grew so rapidly.  It was a conscious decision in a moment and yet, I never thought that it would become a way of life.  I could not have anticipated what was to come.  Initially it took no effort.  It came so easily; actually, the food came up so easily, smoothly.  Morsels slid in and slid out.  Later, it was a chore, the chore of my life!

    No, vomiting was not difficult.  My throat had become an amusement park for food; however, I was not amused.  I did not want to share this adventure with friends, family, or acquaintances.  I wanted to hide.  I wanted to hide my food, my feelings; I wanted to hide “me!”

    I did not want anyone to know who I was, what I was feeling, or what I was doing.  I was a failure!!!!!  I was not pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough; I was not perfect!  Nonetheless, I survived.  Oh, there were those that said I was wonderful, saw me as smart, even brilliant.  Some believed me to be beautiful, however, they were not “I.”  They did not know the real me.

    They were not in my head, my heart, my body, or my soul and they did not know.  They did not know what I hid.  They could not; I was hiding that from myself.

    [Part Four in an Ongoing Series.]

    Please peruse Chapters One through Six, if you choose.

  • The Beginning. Bulimia and Becoming [Chapter One]
  • Bulimia. A Bit Becomes a Binge [Chapter Two]
  • Binges Build A Being, Separate From Self [Chapter Three]
  • Hiding the Food. Hiding The Feelings, Hiding Me [Chapter Four]
  • The Satiated Stomach. The Study Of Food [Chapter Five]
  • Bulimia. Wait! It is Not My Weight [Chapter Six]
    Or Similar Discussions . . .

  • When Will I Be Right? Is It Ever Okay To Be Me?
  • Weight. Balancing Fat with Feelings, Habits With Health
  • Waging Iraqi Civil War ©

    Question: What occurs when vengeance does not see itself?  Answer: War!

    This past Friday evening as I watched NBC Nightly News I was struck, hard!  It was reported that a Whitehouse official declared, we, the United States, does not wish to be drawn into an Iraqi civil war.  My thought, ??how ludicrous.’  This assertion is as many that we each make individually in our own lives.  We create chaos, trauma, and drama, and then claim to be separate from it all.

    We do not see that our choices are the source of what comes.  Yes, the actions of others have an effect on us.  They influence us; impact us, however, ultimately, we decide.  We decide the manner in which we wish to counter a situation, a circumstance, a thought, or an expression.  We all affect each other.  What we do, think, say, feel, and are, is the cause, and will have an affect on us.

    In assessing the current Iraqi war and the possibility of an upcoming civil war, in thinking of the causes and effects, I offer these considerations.  I am purposely not going back in history and offering potential reasons that some may argue.  I am choosing to stay with the current, the undisputable, and the superficial probabilities.  For even these may help to explain, why we will not be drawn in; we are in.  Indeed, we have created what will possibly come!

    We, the people of the United States speak of globalization and act on nationalism.
    We claim that it was our patriotic duty to attack Iraq!
    We inaccurately accuse Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of having Weapons of Mass Destruction.
    On the pretense that he or the people of Iraq attacked the World Trade Center, we chose to wage war.
    In the name of justice, we do not wait for evidence; nor do we engage in diplomacy.
    America articulates democracy and then, unilaterally strikes out against another government.
    The United States comes in with guns blazing, bombs dropping, and kills citizens.
    We destroy lives in a country where the vast majority of the population is under the age of 15 years.
    In mass we enter, or invade, a country violently; we take over a government, and disrupt a way of life.
    We do not ask if this is what the Iraqi people want.
    Then, we expect the citizens of Iraq to welcome us with open arms.
    We ignore their century long history of tribalism and civil unrest.  We want them to be united.
    Might some consider us elitist, stating, “our way is the only way.”
    We invade in the name of democracy.
    We occupy in the name of liberation.
    We say that we are fighting for human rights; yet we force our form of government on the nation of Iraq.
    If our interests are for human rights, why do we slaughter men, women, and children?
    It may be asked, do we desire their abundant oil supply?
    Are we concerned with the welfare of those in Iraq or our own?
    There is Abu Ghraib prison and the dreadful actions taken by United States soldiers.
    Might we also consider Guantanamo Prison and the internment of persons without due process.
    Violations of the Geneva Convention are rampant in our treatment of those that we imprison.
    We are hypocritical.  We speak of hating war and loving God; then we create war in the name of God.
    The debate on desecrating their holy book continue.
    Apparently, an internal investigation of our treatment towards their religious symbols has been ongoing for years.  Sunday, May 22, 2005 The Los Angeles Times reports, Dozens Have Alleged Koran’s Mishandling.  This information is not new; nor is it unsubstantiated.  Inmates in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Cuba concur.  In 2003, the Pentagon established a “Sensitivity policy after trouble at Guantanamo.”
    Thus, we wonder; we exclaim, “We do not wish to be drawn into an Iraqi civil war!”  We are not being drawn in; we created it!
    Please read MaxSpeak. He addresses the “U.S. foreign policy quagmire” in his recent MAXIMS, X.

    The Silent Press © [Part Three In An Unintended Series]

    It was a day, just like any and all others days are in this God forsaken place; yet, God was all around us.  There were many Gods, many interpretations of God, yet none were bringing love or peace.  There were noises, loud noises, all around me.  At times, piercing sounds would slice through the air; they were loud enough to burst an eardrum.  There was never a truly quiet moment, noise was a constant companion.  It was also an enemy, my enemy.

    The constant barrage of blasting bullets and bombs caused many a sleepless night.  There were children crying, parents screaming, and there were soldiers.  They too made sounds, none of them good or comforting.

    Then in a wink of an eye, it happened; I felt hot and sleepy.  I had been standing, keeping watch.  A muffled hum wised past my ear.  I wondered, what was that?’  I saw nothing.  I felt a sensation; it was warm and wet.  I looked down and then, I knew.  Cold steel had entered my soft and supple flesh.  It pierced through tissue, bone, and organs.  Blood was flowing everywhere.  I felt faint.  I was hit!

    There was shrapnel all about, on my clothes, on the ground, and in my body.  Glass cut my throat, my hands, and my chest; the penetrations were deep.  I could no longer look; I could no longer breathe.  I fell into a deep, deep, sleep.

    No photographs were taken or none were published.  The press, and the President feared repercussions from my parents, friends, family, and from fellow citizens.  They all wanted to be proud of their son [or daughter], their soldiers.  Each wanted to remember me as I was.  They wished for no words or photographs of war, at least not those of the “good guys” wounded or killed.  They were only willing to see, hear, or read of death, when it was that of their enemies.

    Saturday, May 21, 2005, the Los Angeles Times published a thoughtful piece titled, Unseen Pictures, Untold Stories, by James Rainey.  The subheading, “U.S. newspapers and magazines print few photos of American dead and wounded, a Times review finds.  The reasons are many — access, logistics, ethics — but the result is an obscured view of the cost of war.”

    Much of what I wrote in two earlier essays, Support Our Troops Tentatively! ©, and Still Tentative Support; Photographs Of The Fallen © is addressed in this article.  I found it a brilliant piece and thought that I would share it here with you.

    While it may be true that, “a picture is worth a thousand words” I hope that my introduction will evoke some of what those unseen photographs might.  My hope is that we will all consider the cost of war, not only in dollars, but also the cost of lost lives, limbs, and loved ones.

    Here I offer an opportunity to view photographs and hear a report from the Los Angeles Times.

    Please visit Operation Truth and view photographs taken by our troops in Iraq.

    Kos is also speaking of the Unseen and Untold, Censoring torture stories doesn’t help the troops as is Plutonium Page See No Evil.

    “Social Security, When “Never” is Defined as “2042” ©

    When did definitions first become malleable?  At what point did people begin to adjust these for context?  Each time I hear President George W. Bush say that he needs to “educate” America, to tell us the “truth” about Social Security, I wonder.  Mr. Bush claims that he wants to  “teach” the nation.  However, the evidence shows that he intends to “persuade” us.  Since Bush 43 took office, definitions have been destroyed in deference to political or personal agendas.  “Promotion” passes for “instruction,” and the General Accounting Office repeatedly reprimands this administration for such.

    I trust that distortion existed long before the year 2000, or even 1945, when George Orwell first published his political spoofs.  I know that George W. Bush did not invent propaganda; nor did George Orwell.  However, when I listen to this President, I cannot help but think of the relationship between the two.  One wrote of the power of persuasion in political forums and the other is out and about, acting on it.

    As we see, hear, and read, King George II is asserting his power.  He is speaking to the people, repeating his rhetoric, determined to prove that if he says it often enough the people will believe.  He says the Social Security program is in “crisis,” there is a “problem.”  The system is flawed and it will go “bust.”  Yet, I read economists assertions, reports stating that Social security will never go broke.  Experts say, as long as payroll taxes are paid into the system, the program is secure.

    When I hear the administration claim what authorities say is false and unfounded, I think of Animal Farm.  The idea of “Newspeak” beckons.  I remember ??the ruling elites can and do easily use language to persuade those of lesser means; they present incorrect or illogical thoughts as though they were fact.’

    I recall 1984 when President Bush praises a program of privatization and individual accounts, then, affirms that this plan will do nothing to address the dilemma of solvency.  I remember the theory of “doublethink.”  I witness that, indeed, people can hold two contradictory beliefs simultaneously, and accept both of them as truth.

    George W. Bush speaks and the concepts of George Orwell echo in my mind.  I trust that Orwell’s writing did not bring these practices into our lives.  Nonetheless, as our President chatters, I feel as though I am trapped in an Orwellian novel.

    King George is the master of language.  The Bush banter is a carefully crafted combination of “Newspeak” and “doublethink.”  Our President delivers “doublespeak.”  His Whitehouse packages, wraps, covers, and cocoons its message.  They sing their mantra and they convince many to hum along.

    Mr. Bush, wealthy son of a political dynasty, a man among the elite, has sung many tunes since his political career began.  Most popular among these is the current, “The Social Security sky is falling.”  Though many economists have long sung a different tune, “The sky is not falling; nor will it” these experts are barely heard above the hype and hollers of the Bush band.

    In 1977, Texas Congressional candidate Bush began his blitz.  He wrote the melody and the lyrics; then, he went out on the road.  He actively campaigned against Social Security.  He claimed the program was flawed and that within ten years the system would be “bust.”  Now, almost three decades later, we still await his apocalypse.

    Then and now, economists and experts tell a different tale.  Theirs is expressed in a folk song, one that reflects the lives of commoners.  They tell us that the system has its strengths.  They admit that adjustments and augmentations may be necessary; however, they assure us that the system cannot possibly go “bust.”  Nevertheless, Bush croons on.

    “All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way.

    People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes,

    And the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”

      George Orwell [Author, 1984, Animal Farm, and Politics and the English Language]

    Prior to 2001 and the famous, or infamous, Bush tax-cut, Social Security was strong.  We had a budget surplus; there were revenues that, by law, could, only be used to pay Social Security beneficiaries and yet, they were used to cover budget shortfalls.  Yes, it is true; Bush was not the first to use these additional funds to conceal debt.  However, George W. Bush does it better than all those before him.  He has stolen more money from the surplus than other president.  He has increased the speed of our slide substantially.

    In 2001, the Whitehouse proposed and Congress approved a budget borrowing $9 billion from Social Security savings.  In April of that same year, the Congressional Budget Office assessed our nation’s “spending.”  The CBO established that if we continued to pay out as much as we were, we would again need to dip into Social Security surplus.  They projected that by 2003 we would double our dip.  We would need to borrow $18 billion of the tax revenues.  The Budget Office estimated that borrowing against the overage would continue unless we, as a nation, chose to make changes.  We changed.

    We began our war on Terrorism.  We bombed Afghanistan, then Iraq.  Our leaders told us that this was essential.  Saddam Hussein and his ilk had Weapons of Mass Destruction; they were intent on destroying us.  American citizens were told that Hussein was responsible for the World Trade Center attack.  Yet, he was not.  He and his country did not have the capability or capacity.  Misinformation abounds.  However, once engaged, who among us would not be persuaded to spend dollars for our defense?  After all, we would want to support our troops.

    Hence, we spend more frantically.  Thus far, the war effort alone has cost the United States $180 billion, an expense that increases, $122, 820 per minute, $7.4 million per hour, and $177 million per day.  How much of this money was taken from our Social Security reserves?  How much could have been used elsewhere, to improve conditions here in America?  One can only speculate.

    As the conflict progresses, and other programs expand, in 2005, we borrow boldly.  Bush proposes more brazenly and his Republican Congress grants his wishes.

    We, as a nation, have made other changes.  Since 2004, we calculate productivity differently than we once did.  Numbers are adjusted and hence the estimated future of Social Security is altered.  We do not use the same standard that we did in the past.  Conveniently, current computations affirm the Administration’s claims.

    UC Berkeley professor of Economics and research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Brad Delong states, “Had the Trustees used the process that was in place prior to 2004, they would have projected a long-term productivity growth of 1.9 percent per year rather than the 1.6 percent they employ.”  Using erroneous estimations, the Trustees project a growth rate that is  “lower than both the 40-year and 10-year average.”  Bush and his Affluent Association does not tell us this truth; instead they tells us their own.

      “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable,

    And to give the appearance of solidarity to pure wind.”

      George Orwell [Author, 1984, Animal Farm, and Politics and the English Language]

    The truth that the general-public hears is presidential posturing.  We hear of the “problem,” or the “crisis.”  We hear the words of our prophet president.  Mr. Bush states, individual investments will produce greater income for all.  Is this “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”  The Center for Economic and Policy Research thinks not.  In an assessing stock returns and administrative costs, and “using realistic projections” the Center concluded that the Bush proposals were “unrealistic.”

    The fact is that there is ample research that reveals contrary to the Bush repartee.  There are economists that tout a healthy future for the Social Security program, though sadly, their voices are stifled.  In this age of Republican rule, the roars of the “Right” reap greater rewards.  Words are skewed and distortion is in distribution.

    For instance, on March 23, 2005, the Trustees presented a revised report on the status of Social Security.  In writing of this review, Associated Press economic journalist, Martin Crutsinger overstated the facts.  He attributed statements to Treasury Secretary John Snow that were not his.  According to Crutsinger, Snow announced that payroll taxes would need to be increased by 3.5 percentage points or benefits would have to be cut by nearly 25 percent to met the needs of soon-to-retire baby-boomers.  Actually, Snow said, payroll taxes would have to be raised by 1.92 percentage points.  Benefits would have to be reduced by 12.8 percent.  These misstatements make the alleged Social Security “crisis” seem far more ominous then what is.

    “Political chaos is connected with the decay of language.

    One can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.”

      George Orwell [Author, 1984, Animal Farm, and Politics and the English Language]

    Yet, the ominous is what we are told.  Little of the “truth,” and less of Social Security successes are shared.  However, a system that the Whitehouse and its wunderkinds say is going bust has many triumphs.  Currently, there are some 45 million persons receiving Social Security reimbursements.  For most of these, the plan serves as insurance protection.  More than one third of the recipients, some 17 million, are not retired workers!

    In 2003, according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, there were 3,961,000 children survivors receiving benefits.  Some 29,532,000 elderly and/or retired accepted these needed checks.  Of the disabled, 5,874,000 collected Social Security.  Many widowed mothers, 190,000 also obtained assistance.  Widowers and widows alike, 4,707,000 were helped by these compensations.  Social Security also provided for 2,000 parents.  In 2003, of the total population, 290.8 million, [2005 World Almanac], just over fifteen percent [15.25%] received Social Security benefits.  Proposals to privatize the system would have a profound effect on these millions, and what effects some, affects us all.

    Regardless, President Bush continues to rock and roll on; he tours the nation.  He peddles his doublespeak.  He stands at podiums, pontificates at pep rallies.  He speaks before paid audiences and the general-public looks on.  They see him on television; listen to him on radios, and they read his plan in the papers.  As the message is repeated, people begin to believe.

    The country is convinced, there is a “problem,” and they hope that King George or his knights will provide a solution.  They forget what words can wield; they thought that the ideas in Animal Farm and 1984 were fictitious.  They did not realize that “success” could literally be defined as “failure.”  They did not believe that “never” could be interpreted as “2042.”  Moreover, they never imagined that George W. Bush could be George Orwell in action; yet, he is!

    Stay tuned, THE HISTORY OF HEDONISM, OR SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM © is coming soon.

    Brad DeLong offer his thoughts, Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars? (Yet Another Bush Social Security Edition).

    Please read Robert Reich, American Prospect, Connect the Dots.  He discusses the suplus.

    Please consider MaxSpeak as he discusses the math used to calculate Social Security MORE MATH PROBLEMS AT THE POST

    Please explore and consider an animated presentation, by Lee Arnold.  Social Security: The Real Connections

    Please refer to the statistics and essays Bruce Webb offers.  In his weblog, Webb discusses Social Security solvency and says, “This site aims to put the debate over Social Security privatization firmly on a numeric basis. There is a lot of rhetoric flowing, but little focus on the economic assumptions underlying the talk of the Trust Fund going broke in some future year, “requiring” some effort to fix the system. Is it really “broke”? Does it even need a fix? The numbers suggest not.”

    You may wish to consider two or more of Bruce Webb’s discourses.

    First the facts, What is the Low Cost alternative? What does it mean?

    Secondly, Social Security: it is about Solvency or about Ayn Rand?