Monday, September 28, 2009

More Faulty Logic

While talking with a coworker recently, he stated that he was against health care reform because Nazi Germany had a nationalized, or "socialized", health care system.

Oh, where to begin with this blockheaded black and white thinking?

First of all, Hitler made the trains run on time in Nazi Germany and it was his idea to invent a cheap, well-made car so that all German workers could have their own automobile. That car survives today by the name he gave it -- Volkswagen -- which translates from German as "People's car".

So -- should we abolish punctual public transportation and scrap every VW beetle on the planet because these good ideas happened to come from an evil man? Will the retention of such things inevitably lead us to fascism? Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater!

Another point to make is that the Nazi party was not "socialist" in the way that modern Scandinavian states are. Yes, the Nazis called themselves "socialists", as the word "Nazi" is a derivative of the acronym NSDAP (National Sozialistische Arbeiter's Partei -- National Socialist Worker's Party). Make no mistake about it, Nazi Germany was not socialist but, rather, it was a far right fascist totalitarian regime. And like all dictatorships, the Nazis were masters of misleading euphemism; for example, a number of concentration camps had signs at their entrances with the slogan "Arbeit Macht FreI' on them, which translates as "work brings freedom".

In other words, the Nazis were no more "socialist" any more than the former East Germany was "democratic" or that modern China is run by "the people".

Many right wingers also confuse socialism with statism (control by workers vs control by state) and believe that anything other than laissez-faire capitalism is "socialist". If this were actually true, then every government would be "socialist" under such a definition.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Faulty Logic

The other night I was changing stations while listening to the radio in the car. I happened upon a station where they were talking about a survey of Americans who had been married at least once and it said that out of that groups, 76% had been married only once, 20% had been married twice, and only 5% had been married three times. A spokesman for the religious right group, Focus on the Family, said that the results were proof positive that most Americans still believe in and supported "biblical marriage".

Feel free to roll your eyes now.

Before I comment I on the faulty logic surrounding this conclusion, I have to point out that Christians didn't invent marriage; that marriage existed well before the Abrahamic religions did. One should also be aware that there's more than one kind of marriage mentioned in the Bible. So one would have to ask "Which type of so-called 'biblical marriage' are you talking about?"

But let us return to the original faulty assumptions made here.

First of all, the 76% of people who had been married once in their lifetimes were not necessarily currently married -- they'd just been married only once in their lives. This included widowed and divorced people, as well as the currently married.

It's quite possible that many of those not currently married may have simply chosen to live with any subsequent romantic partners and decided not to involve the government or the church in any new relationships. In other words, such people remaining legally single had nothing to do with any adherence to fundamentalist ideas about marriage. Similarly, there are no doubt many others who hadn't found another partner yet at the time of the survey, but who are open to being married again.

Secondly, out of the 25% who have been married more than once, this includes widowed people who have married again. Are these FotF fundamentalists saying that it's "unChristian" to be married more than once regardless of circumstances? I'm guessing that quite a number of religious people would beg to differ on this point.

Third, it would seem to me that many people who have a string of failed marriages and have several divorces under their belts have a misplaced belief in the institution of marriage and would do better not involving the legal system in their personal, intimate relationships in the first place. Marriage doesn't fit everyone and there's no shame in that.

Using myself as an example, I've only been legally married once, but they're definitely barking up the wrong tree if they think I'm a supporter of "biblical marriage". I'm one of those people in the third category who is better off remaining legally unencumbered, as marriage as it is currently understood is a bad fit for my non-monogamous, libertine lifestyle. Unlike those who have several marriages and divorces under their belts, I learned my lesson the first time.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Memories in a CD

Lately, I’ve been turning to the library to fill in the gaps in my music collection. I’ve been borrowing CDs to take home to upload into my Windows Media Player and will, at some point, load selected songs into my MP3 player. Money is tight right now, plus I’ve noticed that the places I usually buy CDs at have drastically reduced their selections for some reason.

I didn’t have anything particular in mind, so I just browsed the stacks. After looking through the jazz selection, I ended up with a Dave Brubeck CD, “Time Out”, which included the track “Take Five“. It brought back a lot of memories, as this was a song that I discovered when I was around 11 0r 12.

I began taking piano lessons when I was ten years old, and started in band the following year. At that time, kids in the “band culture” of my school were exposed to a lot of jazz. So, while most kids my age were listening to rock, pop, and the like, I was listening to jazz. Though I like rock music now, my first choices in music when I started getting my own albums were in jazz.

Take Five” was one of the first jazz songs I got into, and I was fortunate to hear Brubeck, along with Gerry Mulligan perform this song in the summer of 1972 at the Newport Jazz Festival in New York City. I was also lucky enough to meet them after the set, and I think it pleased them that someone as young as I was at the time was getting into their music (I was 14), In next few years, I also saw Maynard Ferguson in concert twice and participated in a jazz workshop with Stan Kenton at my high school. At that time I wanted to be a jazz musician myself (and I’m sorry I didn’t fulfill my dream now).

The CD I borrowed was the original recording with Brubeck and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond (who wrote the song). I was surprised to see that this song was originally recorded in 1959 — at the time I first got into it, I’d assumed it was a recent recording. But as I listened to it in the car on the way home from the library, it still had all the original electricity that attracted me to the song in the first place and in no way sounded as if it had been recorded 50 years ago. It sounds as fresh now as it did in the summer of 1959 when they recorded it. And it still has sufficient power to make me feel the feelings all over again I had as a teen in the early 70s when I first wanted to become a musician.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ludicrous Legal Fictions

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Observation On the H ealth Care Debate

The other night, I tuned into the Dennis Miller talk show on the car radio only to find a guest, Dr Drew Pinsky, hosting the show for the night. It's a conservative show, but considering that this is all that's available in my area, I listen to it and others just to see what the other side is thinking.

Dr Pinsky was hosting an open forum for those who had misgivings about the Obama health care plan to call in and voice their concerns.

I was surprised to hear the doctor state to a caller that though he had problems with the Obama plan, he did agree that our current system is broken and that the goal is to ensure that no one in the US has to go without access to health care. I don't remember his exact words, but this was the gist of it.

Though I was not able to listen to this show in its entirety, this attitude was markedly different from most other conservatives I've either read or heard.

For instance, the other night a man called the Neal Boortz show, explaining to him that he was not able to get health insurance, though he was willing and able to pay for it, because he had a chronic health problem. He challenged Boortz to tell him what he thought the solution should be in such a situation.

Boortz essentially told him that it wasn't his problem, which I hear much more commonly from conservatives. He asked the man if he actually expected him to pay for the health care of another person in such a situation, trotting out his tired complaint, "should the government be able to take away a portion of my life"(some of the money that he'd earned) to pay for stranger's health care?

The man quickly responded that, yes, that he'd be glad to contribute to Boortz' care if it had been him in the same situation.

Boortz didn't propose any sort of better solution to the man's problem, but took the attitude of "Oh, well, too bad for you." I wonder if he expects people in this situation to just shut up, go sit in a corner, and wait to die? It makes me wonder how the man can manage to sleep at night..

I've not heard any conservatives offer any workable solutions to the goal which Pinsky defined and supported. They are against the Obama plan, but they're not offering a better one, either.

The Obama plan may not be perfect, but it's a damned sight better than throwing up one's hands and telling the uninsured, "Too bad for you -- you'd better start praying that you don't get sick".