Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Israel versus Palestine versus TRUTH

I don't know if I've ever seen anything this amazing.  Thankfully a ceasefire has been reached just at time of writing, but after a week of fighting between Israel and Gaza, who knows who or what to believe.  Unfortunately, I can't write this without bias because I do have my beliefs about this situation, but I'm hoping to touch on something more important than taking sides.  I would like to demonstrate what I think is an incredible information gap.  I think that this gap goes beyond bias to the level of massive disinformation reaching well outside the boundaries of Israel / Palestine.

For the purposes of this blog, Israel means Israel's government and not its civilians or any other people of Jewish faith/culture.  The politics surrounding this conflict are so vicious that I feel I must make absolutely clear that I am not antisemitic.  Actually, I am anti-violence and pro-truth (versus any lies, disinformation, or secrecy).

The pro-Israel camp generally believes (with some variation):

  • Palestinian extremists (and other regional Muslim extremists) want to destroy Israel basically at any cost or chance
  • Hamas is a "terrorist organization" 
  • Israel has a right to all of the land it currently occupies and expands into
  • Anyone against Israel, since it is the Jewish state, is antisemitic
  • Military attacks on Palestine are self-defense

The pro-Palestine camp generally believes (with some variation):

  • Palestinians are being robbed of their land (often violently) and oppressed by the Israeli government.
  • Palestinians live under "apartheid"-like circumstances whereby they are subject to different laws, rules, and rights than Israeli citizens
  • Many of the territorial actions of Israel are illegal by international law and according to the United Nations
  • Votes on actions to condemn Israel for this situation in the United Nations are always blocked by the United States
  • Much of western mainstream media (essentially all mainstream media in the United States) only gives the pro-Israel point of view
  • The two state solution as it's been negotiated occasionally over the past few decades was incredibly unfair (unacceptable) to the Palestinian side
  • Military/bomb attacks on Israel are justified retaliation for the untenable situation
Middle ground?  There is no middle ground.  How many sides are there to this story?  At least 3?  

Besides the lives lost (on both sides) and injustice suffered, I think the real victim is the truth.  Do you want to know the truth?  I DO.  

P.S. Define "terrorist"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Who's afraid of big bad OBAMACARE?

Here's a great article explaining a lot of the points of Obamacare.

This one criticized some business owners that are vocal in complaining about it.

Here are a few words I'd like to say:

To focus my comments about health care, I will respond to a very common statement about health care in general in the context of Obamacare.

"Health care should be divorced from employment."

For starters, it's not really possible (very exceptional or contrived exceptions) for a person to survive in this country without money, directly or indirectly.  Most people's money or support comes from being employed, receiving government benefits (Social Security or welfare-ish things), or being family (liberally defined) of the former two.  

Health care is pretty essential (some room for debate).  Unless you're off the grid with health care or some rare other alternative, you are paying for it.  In addition, we all are paying for other's health care already, directly and indirectly (like it or not) by increased costs from unpaid bills and emergency room visits (that can't be refused) and in Medicare/Medicaid.  

The Affordable Care Act (u.k.a. Obamacare) an insurance-based model as opposed to for example a single-payer model.  (This is my least favorite part;  generally not a big fan of insurance.)  By making everyone participate (as they do to some extent already), the risk is pooled (insurance terminology) helping to bring down cost.  Optimistically, people that can afford it take responsibility for it (financially) and those that can't at least are treated reasonably instead of letting things go until emergencies arise.  For better or worse (and this certainly isn't perfect), the overall costs to individuals and society should work out to be less and misery/suffering should be less, too.

To bring this back around full circle, many (but certainly not most) of us are gainfully employed and technically can afford insurance or it's already built into our benefits (and families are covered, too).  Those that are employed but can't afford it are a drain on the system in one sense, but their employers are also a bit of a drain on the system (this point is quite disputable, but for example companies like Walmart have a huge percentage of employees on food stamps, can health care be considered an externality?)  Medicare recipients are already in a system designed to aid their health-care costs significantly.  Unemployed drain the system, but the system drains them a little, too.  At least their drain of the system is mitigated a little (much less emergency care, more preventative care, and healthier so more employable in the future).   

Marriage of employment and sources of obtaining money with health care (and essential service?) does make some sense in this modern society we find ourselves in.

If you're as lucky as I am to be pretty healthy, it hurts a little more to know you're paying for the sick (naturally or self-inflicted), but we really are paying for a lot of it anyway, and hopefully this system will realize some savings for everyone.   I hope we can address obesity and our awful diet as well, but I digress even further.

I think Obamacare will be ultimately worth it (an improvement), but it isn't the perfect system we'd hope for.