July 31, 2012

More on lying: universal healthcare version

Check out this interesting post by a pro-life conservative who moved to Canada for a few years.  She was pregnant with her third child and scared to death that the socialists in Canada would harm her pregnancy.  She even considered trying to come back to the states for treatment where she could choose doctors and pay for all of it.

As it turns out, she found out that it wasn't bad.  It was actually good.
Fast forward a little past the Canadian births of my third and fourth babies. I had better prenatal care than I had ever had in the States. I came in regularly for appointments to check on my health and my babies’ health throughout my pregnancy, and I never had to worry about how much a test cost or how much the blood draw fee was. I didn't have to skip my ultrasound because of the expense.
And about abortion? She was horrified to see that their healthcare covered abortions, but then realized that it wasn't as bad as she thought.
Abortion wasn’t pushed as the only option by virtue of it being covered. It was just one of the options, same as it was in the USA. In fact, the percentage rates of abortion are far lower in Canada than they are in the USA, where abortion is often not covered by insurance and can be much harder to get. In 2008 Canada had an abortion rate of 15.2 per 1000 women (In other countries with government health care that number is even lower), and the USA had an abortion rate of 20.8 abortions per 1000 women.
Imagine that? Fewer abortions even though they were covered?  But as she notes, the lower number might be due to the fact that no women had to worry about paying for expensive care or losing their job. Talk about pro-life.

In this follow-up post, she talks about why she was so scared of universal care:
I was afraid of Universal Health Care, because I knew nothing else but what I had been told by religious propaganda and conservative think tanks. They repeatedly spread the idea that Universal Health Care took away all choice. I was told that people were assigned doctors, and were not free to choose a different doctor. I was told that older people were denied health care and left to die because they were not a priority to the national interest. I was also told that abortion was pushed heavily on any woman who had an unwanted pregnancy or women who were pregnant with a child with disabilities. I was told that people with disabilities would be eliminated by government encouraged abortions or possibly even killed at birth (they wouldn’t want those people on the federal dole since they would “waste money” and “drain the system.”)
She was lied to. And often by the same people who want the Ten Commandments on courthouse walls. Many of those liars undoubtedly did so out of ignorance, but that explains it only so far.

I am tired of liars lying for Jesus.

Should we boycott Chik-fil-A for supporting anti-gay policies?

I am sure everyone is aware of the chicken fast food founder who had this to say about gay marriage:
"I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about," Cathy said.
I always love this theology. God loved America when we owned slaves, allowed children in mines, killed Native peoples and took their land. God seems to prefer us when we torture others because they scare us, and he doesn't mind a high infant mortality rate nor a high maternal death rate. Children in poverty? Nope. But embrace gays and God gets pissed.

That aside, I have been iffy on the boycott. It hasn't really been an issue because I rarely eat there. And I had to agree with some of my conservative friends who thought that Boston and Chicago were trampling on first amendment rights when they threatened to not allow the franchise access to their cities. And certainly, while I find Dan Cathy to be an uninformed bigot, he has the right to be an uninformed bigot.

But, as Fred Clark noted, the company doesn't just think this, they take action to cause "actual harm to actual people." I don't need to give them money to donate to Exodus International nor political groups trying to harm my gay friends.

And if the issue started as just another example of the culture wars, Now Chik-fil-A Is Pretending To Be a Bible-Quoting Teenage Girl. Why? To cover up for a blatant lie where they told their customers that their children's toys would no longer be from the Jim Henson company because of a product recall. Rather than say that the Henson company withdrew over the gay issue, they made up a reason.

Amazing, really. This started with Dan Cathy preening about Biblical values and traditional family, and ends with the company lying about someone with whom they disagree. I have wondered this for sometime, but how is it that the same people who tell me we should post the Ten Commandments in public buildings don't seem to sweat it when their political heroes violate the "thou shall not bear false witness" one. Is it ok to lie as long as you lie for Jesus?

I am guessing that this lie won't cost them one bit of support from the conservative Christian set. After all, Dan Cathy may be a lying bigot, but he is part of the conservative Christian political tribe. And that says it all.

July 20, 2012

The Certainty of More Shootings

Fallows on the Denver shootings.  I am mindful of the need to not politicize something like this, but have to say that after each one of these, I feel this deep sense of sadness that our country seems to do this more than others.  It isn't that we have more insane people, and it isn't even that we may not be good at dealing with the insane people we do have.  But we do seem to insist on believing that the answer to gun violence is to have more guns.

Seems like we should be able to talk about reasonable gun control without the NRA accusing us of caving to the UN.

July 14, 2012

On Sacred Spaces

SOF and I just returned from her family reunion.  This was one of our better ones in that we seemed to get along better and enjoy the interactions.  We avoided political and religious fights--all which left a few silent spaces at the dinner table, but contributed to a much more positive experience.

Part of the time was devoted to assessing family business and planning--part of which regards a family cabin.  And we mean "cabin" here, not "house in mountains."  No running water or indoor plumbing.  But for this family, that cabin represents more than shelter.  It has taken on a sacred dimension.

The recent spate of fires and beetle-kill has spurred a lot of discussion about this particular cabin--to say nothing about generational change.  Who knows what will happen, but the beetles have already changed the surrounding environment.  And that, I think, is the issue regarding sacred space:  change.  For many in the family, this cabin represents a sacred space, and one that should be protected, maintained and held.  As a quasi-outsider, it is clear to me that the building is more symbolic than real.  It has become a holder of family memories and is locked in a sepia-tinged photo of all-younger family members smiling on the porch.  No matter that during that time, many were deeply unhappy, of course, because in the cabin those memories are all positive.  

As that outsider, I remember my few visits there, and could not quite makes sense of my own discomfort.   In a sacred space, there are rules for your experience.  And in the case of this cabin, those rules were mostly unwritten and unspoken.  My discomfort was not understanding that I was in a place filled with ghosts and memories and connections to the past.  That back room was built by so and so.  That stove came from that other person.  "We don't do that here."  It is only in retrospect that I can see I could not experience that area or space as my own.  The experience was tightly scripted--even though I doubt anyone there thought of it that way.  And built into that script was the idea (contradicted by the narrative, of course) that the cabin never changes.  It always is.  

That isn't meant as criticism, because I am thinking of my own sacred spaces.  One of them will be for sale soon, and that news hit me like a brick.  That is because I had my own sense of what that space meant--even though it was not mine to define.  And, to be sure, we have had some amazing experiences there.  But more than once, in that same space, I have looked at others and wondered why they did what they did.  How dare they experience "my" sacred space that way?  "We don't do that here."  

Anglican often reminds me that "everything changes" and "nothing stays the same."  Those words have served me well over the past few weeks.  I am also reminded of SOF's great advice when addressing items or tokens that held great personal significance.  She gently pointed out that the item itself was not the memory.  

My sacred space will soon be in some other hands.  Likewise, that family cabin is just a building.  While it can function as a place to both connect to nature and family and enjoy the tradition and past, it does not have to be the holder.  Those memories and connections exist whether the cabin does or not.  But when we insist that the sacred space be the one holder of those memories and connections, we risk losing them all.

And we do not have to do that.  

July 5, 2012

On freedom and the individual and healthcare

Happy 5th of July, everyone. Our 4th turned out quite nice when we received a delightful invitation to dinner with good friends.  Our kitchen is in disrepair (new floors) so we were just going to hang out and cook something on the grill, but so much easier when someone else did it.  :)

But a couple of links for those who don't read Slactivist.  First, is this idea that ‘Libertarianism is [not] a philosophy of individual freedom’.  I am working my way through the Crooked Timber post and it is rather long and involved, but interesting.  I have always found libertarianism to be rather utopian in nature--just a vague belief that absent government interference, freedom would dominate.  I don't see any evidence in history or the world around me that smaller government leads to anything approaching great personal freedom.  Instead, all I see is that small government and low taxes leads to rule by a small group of very rich people, a tiny middle class, and a whole lot of poor people.

I am reminded of that when I see reports that right wingers are thinking of fleeing the country after the healthcare ruling.  Of course that is just a rhetorical flourish, and God knows I have thought of moving to Canada myself.  But the interesting thing was that those people could not move to another industrialized and free country that would have less healthcare than we have here.  Their idealized world looks more like Iran and Somalia than any other industrialized Western nation.

Speaking of that, this fascinating story (again, Slactivist) on the very conservative evangelical Michael Bird who teaches in Australia and has lived in the UK.  Turns out, while he agrees with American evangelicals on gay marriage and abortion, he is stunned that American evangelicals oppose healthcare, and one of his main points is that Jesus was very concerned with healing the sick.  Not only that, but in other industrialized democracies, healthcare has come from the Christian community, not despite the Christian community.
Christian Advocacy for Healthcare. Every western democracy from Norway to New Zealand has universal healthcare for its citizens except for the most prosperous nation on earth. Across the world this move to care for the sick has been driven by a Christian ethic of compassion and not by the pursuit of economic again. Now as any mission organization will tell you, there is no mission without margin, so you have to pay for it. But the purposes of taxation is not a re-distribution of wealth, but to do together what we cannot do individually, airports, defence, environment, education, commerce, etc. and to help the poor and the vulnerable. Universal health care is not a ponzi scheme any more than the USAF is a ponzi scheme. It is something that is needed and in the national interest of our citizens to have.
As he notes, American evangelical opposition to healthcare has nothing to do with the Bible or their own theology, but rather their tribal connection to the GOP.  And that is just sad.