Archive for the 'Democracy?' Category

US HEALTH CARE

Friday, March 24th, 2017

France has universal health care paid for with tax money.  They also have what is regarded as the best health care in the world (the country of Louis Pasteur and Marie Curie is carrying on the tradition).  As many of you know, I had personal experience of that system a few years ago when a medical emergency sent me to the hospital there.  I had two surgical operations and was in the hospital in Tours for two months.  I can assure you French medicine is both excellent and costs magnitudes less than in the US where some people have excellent medical care and many have none. My two months in the hospital in France cost the equivalent of $6000.00, which would have paid for a weekend in the hospital in the United States at the time.  This also included three meals a day for my sister who came each day to be with me.

CHU de Tours

University Hospital of Tours

By contrast, the title of an article I just read was “US health care debate: A bipartisan drive to lower life expectancy.”

I read in the article:

“According to the Congressional Budget Office report released Monday, 21 million Americans will lose [health care] coverage by 2020, and 24 million by 2026. How many of these people will die as a consequence?

“Under the Republican House plan, a 64-year-old worker earning $26,500 will see his or her premium increase from $1,700 to $14,600 by 2026 due to the disproportionate cuts in tax credits for older consumers. A 21-year-old earning the same amount would see his or her premium drop from $1,700 to $1,450.

“In so far as overall premiums drop, this is because older workers—whose health care costs are higher—will simply leave the market because they can no longer pay for insurance. The result will be a sharp increase in mortality and fall in life expectancy, which is already on the decline in the US due to the rise in suicides, drug abuse and other social ills.”

Read the complete article here.

This is not the description of medical care in a developed country.  The US could have health care like that of other countries, but it will require a revolution in thinking and in practice.

TRUMP POLICIES LEAD US TO LOOK MORE AND MORE LIKE A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Poor and Hungry Children in the US

According to an article published today on alternet.org, Robert Reich says that Trump’s plans for “huge leaps in military spending plus tax cuts will mean big cuts to programs like food stamps and Medicaid (at a time when the U.S. has the highest poverty rate of all advanced nations, including 1 in 5 American children).”

I would ask if a country with 1 in 5 children living in poverty is an “advanced” nation. It looks more and more to me like a third world country or at least to being on the way to one.

These latter are characterized by an elite, usually relatively small compared to the entire population, who are vastly wealthy, a very small “middle class” and the vast majority of the population forming a poor class. We are not a third world country yet, but 1 in 5 children living in poverty certainly excludes the US from first world nation status, or should.

I am alarmed and don’t really know what my responsibility as a citizen is. I can protest Trump and his evil policies and vote for people who say that they would have different policies. But what is needed, it seems to me is a huge resistance to Trump now and to what he stands for going forward. We need a sort of political revolution in order to establish a true democracy where the majority of the population are the holders of power and government programs are for the good of the people, not of corporations. We really have a “corporatology” now not a democracy.

How can we change this?

TRUMP, HITLER, AND IMMIGRANTS

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Below is part of a chilling article by Heather Digby Parton which appeared today on Alternet (www.alterner.org).

In response to talk in the Trump regime about immigrants, especially Muslim and Latino ones, the author wrote:

“But the drawing up of lists of criminals of a certain ethnicity to publish for public consumption brings to mind the most famous scapegoating of a population in history. That would of course be the systematic persecution of the Jewish population of Europe during the Nazi era.

“From the early 1930s onward, the pro-Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer published lists of crimes allegedly committed by Jews. When Adolf Hitler came to power the government took over the job in order to further stoke anti-Semitism. The point of Trump’s order is to stoke anti-immigrant paranoia, almost entirely directed at Latinos and Muslims. The parallel is ugly but it’s accurate.

“Trump may not stop there. During the presidential campaign he was caught on tape saying that he thought Muslims should have to register on a national database, which also brought up a nasty echo of the Nazi era. The idea wasn’t discussed much again until after the election when it was reintroduced by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a key Trump adviser on immigration. The president said, “You’ve known my plans all along.”

“The administration hasn’t officially proposed a Muslim database yet. But the sinister implications of the VOICE program should make clear that no matter how much he modulates his tone and how many times he fakes a “pivot,” Trump is prepared to go in the most sinister direction.”

NYC Department Stores That Sell Trump Products

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

NYC Department Stores
X marks stores that sell Trump products

X Bed Bath & Beyond
1932 Broadway, 10023
several other stores in NYC

Bergdorf Goodman
754 5th Avenue (58th Street), (212) 753-7300

X Bloomingdale’s 1000 Third Avenue at 59th Street, (212) 705-2000

X Burlington Store (2 in NYC) 4 Union Square South, 235 Sixth Ave)

X Century 21
22 Cortlandt Street between Broadway and Church Street, (212) 227-9092

X DSW
213 W. 34th St 212 967-9703
2220 Broadway 917 746 9422
2 other NYC locations

X Filene’s Basement  620 Sixth Avenue btwn 18th and 19th Sts
Broadway and 79th Street

H&M 34th St. @ Herald Square (646-473-1165), 34th St. at 7th Ave., 51st St. and 5th Ave., 558 Bway, 125 W 125th St.

Henri Bendel
712 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, (212) 247-1100

X Lord & Taylor 424 Fifth Avenue at 38th Street, (212) 391-3344

X Macy’s Herald Square
at 34th Street and Broadway, (212) 695-4400

Saks Fifth Avenue 611 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street, (212) 753-4000

X Saks Off Fifth
1 (212) 320-4700
850 3rd Ave, Brooklyn 11232
125 East 57th, NYC 10022

We have the choice of not purchasing any Trump products and not patronizing stores that carry them.

SOME REFLECTIONS ON TRUMP

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Below is a link to an article about Trump barring a number of news outlets from a White House briefing with Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer.

The Real ‘Enemy of the American People’ Sits in the White House  

Dean Baquet executive editor of the New York Times wrote, “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties. We strongly protest the exclusion of the New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

Dean Baquet

Indeed this a frightening development and one that does not bode well for this country.  Trump has called the media “an enemy of the people”.

I am not sure what as a concerned US citizen I should do.  I can encourage the New York Times staff and I can post this on my blog, of course.  But what to do substantially to stop the totalitarian Trump regime is a much bigger question.

The World Can’t Wait posted a very prescient article on its website today.  It’s last sentence is:

“People look at [Trump’s first weeks in office] and think of Hitler – and they are right to do so. The Trump regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.”

Before I read that article, I had been thinking about Hitler–for some time.

HERE is a link to the complete article.

Please comment on this post or send me your remarks and we will post them for you.

This is a very frightening time in US history and we need to work together to stop Trump’s march to fascism.

PROTESTING TRUMP IN NYC

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Yesterday, George and I joined a huge number of people protesting Donald Trump here in New York at the Trump tower where he lives.

He, of course, was in DC at the time where there was also massive protest, but since we could not go there, we were very glad for such a big protest here.  Last Sunday we had been with just a handful of people in Central Park close to Trump’s residence, so I was very happy to see a big turnout yesterday.

There were a number of well known figures, the mayor of New York and Michael Moore among them, who gave speeches.  I was really glad that the crowd was so large, even though we were too far from the podium to hear the speeches at all well.  It was just glorious to have so many people out and protesting noisily.

I never thought to see a fascist government in the United States.  I was always censorious of the German people for allowing Hitler to come to power.  Experts on fascism talk about the ways Trump resembles the German fascists and ways he is different, but the analogy is unfortunately evident.  I must do what I can to stop Trump from doing here what Hitler did there and to get him out of office peacefully and legally.  Certainly showing up with thousands of other citizens to express disapproval and demand change is a good start.

Response to 2016 Predidential Election

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Below is the text of a letter I mailed to Donald Trump about his choices at this time.

“That more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton is not disputed and the actual number of votes for her will be even larger as the counting comes to an end.

“In the light of this, a choice you have is to accept the uncontested will of the American voters and concede in her favor.  Such a decision on your part would not only be fair and just, but would help this country revise a very outdated system for election of its President.

” Failure to do so will leave you colored with illegitimacy and could limit your effectiveness in office.

“I urge you in the strongest possible terms to respect the will of the majority of American voters and step down now. ”

I have no illusions about any impact of this letter.  It was just something I could do.  I am very grateful for those people who are out on the streets and at Trump Tower demonstrating.  I will do some of that in due course.  I just felt that doing something was imperative.  It is now time for me to consider what more substantive things I can do to respond to this disastrous situation for my country.

MORE ABOUT SHAKER’S POSSIBLE RELEASE

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Below is the press release of World Can’t Wait about Shaker.

World Can’t Wait Calls for Immediate Release of Shaker Aamer

Not One More Day of Torture for Last British Resident of Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter’s notice of intent to repatriate the illegally detained “terror suspect” – Mr. Aamer has never been charged with a crime – is a welcome development.

It would be premature to celebrate the prisoner’s release, as this is hardly a done deal, but we call on people of conscience to seize the moment to redouble efforts to free Shaker Aamer and all 113 remaining survivors of extrajudicial incarceration.

We condemn the 30-day waiting period for Congressional deliberation, and hold that the delay constitutes unconscionable punishment on top of the 13 year disruption of his life. Mr. Aamer has yet to meet his youngest son, born after his detention.

It is up to us to “walk the talk” to see that President Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo becomes a reality. We will celebrate Shaker Aamer’s repatriation when he boards a plane for London. We will not rest until he’s free and all the prisoners are free and those responsible for this crime of indefinite detention and torture are brought to justice.

__________________

That statement from World Can’t Wait is one with which I agree.  I, too, condemn the 30 day waiting period.  I also call for freeing all the remaining 113 prisoners and have called repeatedly for the release of all the prisoners at that torture center. I too think it is up to us to do what we can to see that Obama closes the torture center and frees all the remaining prisoners.

And, I applaud World Can’t Wait and agree with them in calling for those responsible for the atrocities committed against these prisoners to be brought to justice.

NOT UNRELATED

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Though this post is not about war and torture, it is not unrelated to the depredations of the US and can be seen even to have some influence on the military in this country.

I read today about US student debt–which is astronomical.  I want to remind readers that education in the developed world and even in many “third world” countries, though in the latter it may not be widely available, is virtually free for those who qualify for it.

In my university years in France, I paid about the equivalent at the time of twenty-five US dollars for a registration fee.  That was the only cost for any student.  One presented the appropriate academic credentials and was admitted upon the payment of that small fee.

la sorbonne

La Sorbonne

As one of many scholarship students, in addition I was actually paid to go to university.  That scholarship had required a more complex application beforehand, but with it I received a monthly stipend that allowed me to have very decent housing, incredibly low cost meals at the university restaurants, and to meet all my basic expenses.  I could even afford a season of symphony concerts, which certainly enriched my life and brought me great joy, in addition to occasional theater tickets.  I could afford a trip to Rome during a vacation break and another trip to Germany.

By contrast, my 1960’s US college tuition alone was some $10,000.00 per year–which has mushroomed to several times that now.  And that was just tuition and did not include other necessities.  Furthermore, because my family had means, I did not qualify for tuition payment for the “scholarship” that I was awarded; I only got to list the prestigious title of it among my credentials.  Merit got me the scholarship, but “need” would have had to be proven for financial payment of it.  I was, therefore, very dependent on my family and somewhat infantilized as a result.

In most developed countries, there is education for everyone.  The entire society invests in the education of its citizens and all are given the first levels of school.  Not everyone qualifies for higher education, but those who do receive it at virtually no cost.  Education at all levels is of high quality, not dependent on the capacity of local communities to pay for it, but funded by the national government.

There is some of the best education in the world for some people in the US, but the quality of education generally is low.  Not surprisingly, many people here are stunningly ignorant, to the astonishment of Europeans who have occasion to be here and see “average” Americans.

Another aspect of the woeful educational situation here, and of the exorbitant cost of it, is related to the US military.  Since enlistment can mean higher education for some people, there are numerous young people who join one of the service branches in order to get a university education which they would not otherwise be able to afford.  I think that price, too, is far too high for our young people to pay, especially when I know that their peers in other countries do not have to resort to such measures.

USuniversity

Florida State University

Will the US ever join the developed world in providing education, instead of just talking as though it does?

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS?

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.   Emphasis mine

Noche3

Noche Diaz

This past week Edward “Noche” Diaz, about whom you have read on this blog here, here, and here, appeared in court.  He had literally been plucked out of the peaceful march protesting the police killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson in August of last year.  He faces up to a year in the prison on Rikers Island for exercising his Constitutionally guaranteed right to speak freely, to assemble peaceably, and to seek redress of grievances from the government.

Ray.jpg

Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern, former employee of the CIA, now an antiwar and anti-torture activist whom you can read about here, here, and here, holding a $50.00 ticket to a speech by retired Gen. David Petraeus to be given at the 92nd Street YMCA, was not only not allowed to enter (presumably because he might ask undesirable questions during that part of the event), but was arrested and put in jail.  He will have a court appearance on Wednesday, 4 February.

If we in the US think that we can exercise the rights that the Constitution puts forth, we are deceived.  If and when the “authorities” choose to, they now refuse to allow us these rights and even put us in jail for trying to exercise them.

What does this mean to us?  How many of us think it could never happen to us?  How many of us never try to exercise our right to speak our minds or assemble with others who hold similar views to begin with?  Do we think we would be able to if ever we chose?

The 27th of January was the seventieth anniversary of the closing of the Auschwitz Death Camp where the Nazis executed some 1.1 million people  as well as torturing those who were not actually executed.    Some people at the time did not think it could happen to them, but learned that it could.

The Nazi state, under Adolf Hitler, held all power.  Any opposition to it was violently and ruthlessly suppressed.  Members of opposition parties and “undesirables” were killed, imprisoned,  sometimes tortured or exiled.

This state of affairs did not happen overnight.  The Nazis came to power during the Great Depression and by using government as well as private measures that they encouraged were able to end mass unemployment.  But not all human beings were allowed to share in these good developments.  Only the right ones were.  Many Germans were not concerned by this, but many of them learned that when some people can be deprived of their rights and dignities as human beings, anyone might be.  It is only when there is rule of fair and just law for all people that anyone is truly free.

In the United States right now, some people, Noche Diaz and Ray McGovern being examples, are excepted from the laws, such as the First Amendment quoted at the beginning of this post, that should protect all of us.  Not only were Noche and Ray not engaged in any criminal activity, they were engaged in constitutionally protected activity.

As long as anyone can have his or her rights to free speech and assembly or of any of the other Amendments set aside, no one can be assured of having these rights.

The Germans, as the people in the US are doing right now, saw their country invade other countries.  They saw rights of certain citizens abrogated.  Ultimately, they saw the concentration camps built and saw their neighbors disappear.  But, they did not rise up and stop such things at any stage along the way.   Other countries did rise up to stop them.  Are US atrocities going to have to be stopped by other countries or are we going to rise up ourselves and demand an end to US wars and torture abroad and to the abrogation of rights here?