Skepticism, Religion Archive

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Universal Health Care

CaduceusUniversal health care has been a hot topic for debate for a while now, but has just recently begun making big headlines with the new proposed health care plan by the Obama administration. I've never really had a huge respect for the knowledge of our country's population (e.g. 1 in 4 Americans think the Sun goes around the Earth), but some of the statements I see coming from the right wing on this are just mind numbingly ignorant - or extremly dishonest.

I've briefly mentioned universal healthcare in a previous entry. Here's what I had to say back then:

If May was referring to something other than the stimulus packages, the policy I've personally heard referred to as socialism the most often is universal health care. I don't understand why everyone is so against it. Compared to industrialized nations with universal health care, the U.S. spends about twice the amount on health care (from either a per capita or GDP basis), but our quality of care isn't any better and we have less access to physicians (http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2009/05/are_patients_in_universal_heal.php)

Now, if you follow the link from the above quote, you'll find data comparing the health care systems of various prosperous democracies (mostly Australia, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, The UK, and The USA, with a bit of data for other countries). Note that the U.S. is the only one of those countries without universal health care. What the data show is that, in addition to what was already stated above about the U.S. spending far more per capita (around double) than the other countries in the comparison, that in most measures of quality of health care, the U.S. does worse than almost all the other countries, with the exceptions being Canada and the UK for certain issues.

Now, I was getting pretty used to conservatives simply pointing to Canada and the UK as examples of why universal healthcare was a bad idea. And I'd point out that there are other types of universal health care plans out there, and that we don't need to emulate the worst examples. But it seems that recently, even just pointing to the two worst plans wasn't enough, and now I'm starting to hear just out and out falsehoods about healthcare in the UK and Canada, and falsehoods about the president's new plan.

There's a decent article in the Guardian about some of the claims coming out about the UK's health care system. As I said already, given how poor the UK system is compared to other universal health care systems, you'd think conservatives would just stick to cherry picking data, and wonder why they would resort to lying about the UK's system.

Probably the most famous example of misrepresenting Obama's plan is the whole 'death panel' fiasco. Palin made headlines on that, and now other conservative leaders, such as Gingrich, have even backed up her statements. And it's not as if I chose two radical fringe elements to be easy targets - one was the vice presidential candidate, and the other was the Speaker of the House. (At least other Republicans, like Senator Murkowski and Senator Isakson have tried to set the record straight.) You've got to wonder about what these people are thinking. Are they really that ignorant? Are they lying because they'll do anything to keep from having socialized medicine in any form? Is it simply to appease their base? Whatever the reason, it boggles the mind that they can state such blatant untruths, and still have a sizeable portion of Americans support them.


When it comes to universal health care, I do support it, but in a rather guarded way. Looking at that link I provided earlier about health care in other countries, it's clear that universal health care can be either a boon or a bane, depending on how it's implemented. It's neither a guaranteed utopia, nor a guaranteed descent into becoming a new USSR. Considering our government's track record with big programs (they've done good with things like NASA and the FDA, but not so good with things like the TSA), this is something that needs to be watched closely.


Universal health care also makes sense considering the system that we already have in place. I've already written my thoughts on this in a comment on The New Minority blog, which I'll paraphrase here.

One issue is that we already do have a de facto national health care system. Publicly funded hospitals cannot turn away anyone for a life threatening emergency. And honestly, I like that. I don't want to show up at a hospital bleeding out, and have to wait on some clerk to clear my insurance before the surgeons fix me up. And I don't want paramedics to be the ones making decisions on whether or not I get treated when the ambulance shows up.

Accepting that means that insured and non-insured alike get treated, and some of the treatments are too expensive to ever be paid off by the people that received them (even if you garnished 100% of their wages for the rest of their lives, as I've heard some people suggest). So, the bills for those treatments get footed by the rest of us, through raised insurance premiums and higher taxes.

Now, consider that some of those emergencies, like heart attacks or strokes, could be avoided through preventative treatment, which in many cases are cheaper to implement than the emergency care. So, if you accept that hospitals are going to provide emergency treatment to everybody, the question becomes, is it cheaper to provide everybody with ongoing healthcare to avoid those emergencies, or to just stick to the status quo? I think a strong case can be made for the former.


Looking rationally at the data that's already out there, we know that our health care system here in the U.S. isn't the best one out there. What I would really like to see on this issue is for both sides to work together, rather than have one side continually muddying the water with falsehoods, and the other side being distracted with simply setting the record straight. Just imagine what could happen if that same amount of effort was put into coming up with the best possible health care plan.

Numerous typos were corrected after this entry was originally posted. Additionaly, the sentence, "And it's not as if I chose two radical fringe elements to be easy targets - one was the vice presidential candidate, and the other was the Speaker of the House," was not in the original entry.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beware the Spinal Trap

Last year, Simon Singh wrote an article in the UK Guardian that was critical of chiropractics. In response, the British Chiropractic Association sued him for libel, and actually won the case. Singh is obviously appealing the judgment, but unfortunately, in the UK, the burden of proof in libel cases is on the accused, not the accusers.

Today, apparently, a bit of a grass roots movement has been started to re-post Singh's article on multiple websites and blogs. Since I agree with Singh's article, and since I think the UK libel laws are very bad for free speech, it seemed that joining in and re-posting the article on this site was the thing to do. So, below is the infamous article that got Singh in hot water. Following Orac's example, I'm posting the original article in full, with those statements that a few others have decided to edit out in bold (another re-post with more details of Singh's case is at the Science Based Medicine site.)


Beware the Spinal Trap

Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all but research suggests chiropractic therapy can be lethal

Simon Singh
The Guardian, Saturday April 19 2008

This is Chiropractic Awareness Week. So let's be aware. How about some awareness that may prevent harm and help you make truly informed choices? First, you might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that, "99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae". In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.

In fact, Palmer's first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact they still possess some quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything. And even the more moderate chiropractors have ideas above their station. The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.

I can confidently label these treatments as bogus [changed to "utter nonsense" in the scrubbed version] because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world's first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.

In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.

More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.

Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.

Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: "Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck."

This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Professor Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.

Bearing all of this in mind, I will leave you with one message for Chiropractic Awareness Week - if spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.

- Simon Singh is the co-author of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial

www.simonsingh.net


Keep Libel Laws Out of Science

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hard Working Conservatives vs. Bleeding Heart Liberals

I received another of those e-mail forwards that prompted me to write a response to the person who forwarded it to me. This was a long one, so I'm not going to include it here or my full response (after a little googling, here's the original blog entry the e-mail was copied from). It's pretty typical of what you hear coming from the right these days - a handful of things I agree with, a few things that are objectively wrong, a few things I subjectively disagree with, and a lot of complaining.

Anyway, one of the major themes of themes of the e-mail was something I hear a lot from my more conservative friends, about how they've worked hard, and don't want to have their tax dollars going to support lazy people who don't work as hard as them. To simplify their viewpoint just a bit, they see America as the land of opportunity, so the only reason most unsuccessful people are unsuccessful is because they don't work hard enough, and they consider those who want to help the unsuccessful to be bleeding heart liberals. So, I've adapted the portion of my response to the e-mail that addressed that sentiment and put it in this blog entry.

There's no doubt that many successful people have worked hard to get where they are, but I think a little perspective is needed.

I'll use myself as an example. I feel I've done pretty well so far. I studied hard in school, kept my act together, stayed out of trouble, and I feel I have a pretty good work ethic. But, I recognize how extremely fortunate I was to be born into the family I was. I had two parents in a stable relationship, who were both very supportive and who had/have an active interest in what I did, and who weren't so busy working multiple jobs that they were unable to be involved in my life. They made enough money to keep a stable lifestyle - never having to worry about where the next meal was coming from, or whether or not we'd get evicted because we couldn't make the rent. Even college was assumed - I knew my parents would pay for whatever I couldn't get covered by scholarships.

Now, compare that to someone I know (but who would rather I didn't use her name on this blog). Her dad died when she was 4. She left to a new country, and started elementary school without knowing a lick of English. Her mom did remarry, but the man was, to put it frankly, an asshole. But, because of her mom's religious convictions, she didn't divorce the man until much later than she should have. My acquaintance dropped out of school before starting high school so that she could work full time to help support her younger brothers and sisters, but she still managed to study on her own and get her GED the same year she would have graduated from high school. When the opportunity arose, she put herself through college and got her degree. But, being a bit naive because she didn't have any high school guidance counselors to give her advice, she didn't realize the opportunities she had for financial aid, and so ended up paying for a good portion of her education through credit cards and out of pocket.

So yes, I know I've worked to get where I am, but comparing it to someone like my acquaintance, it's obvious just how many more obstacles she had to overcome, and how much harder she had to work to get to where she is today. It's no surprise that all of my parents' children got college degrees, while my acquaintance was the only one in her family that managed to do it.

Now, whether or not you think kids that were born into less fortunate circumstances deserve a helping hand from the government and our tax dollars is still a subjective question, but I'm not going to be so smug as to say that if those kids just worked as hard as I did, that they'd end up as successful as I have.

On a related note, I wanted to discuss generally the concept of helping others in society. Even if you ignore compassion, there can be pragmatic reasons for doing so. For example, where the e-mail discussed drug addicts, look at it this way. Assume that there's a person addicted to a dangerous drug like heroin. You can ignore the problem, but because of his desparation to get money to support his addiction, he'll probably end up turning into a criminal, and may end up robbing your house or injuring you or your family. You could lock him up in prison, but then we're stuck supporting him with taxpayer money, and he's nothing more than a burden on society. And once he's back out, he's liable to go right back to his drug habit and criminal behavior. Or, you could get him treatment, after which he can go back to being a productive member of society. A little up front cost could end up being a better investment.

For a non-hypothetical case, consider homeless alcoholics. Seattle recently started a pilot program where 75 homeless alcoholics received free housing, no strings attached, not even requiring the residents to quit drinking. In the first year, Seattle saved over $2 million due to reduced jail/medical costs. So, even if someone doesn't think those people deserve help, or considers it a free ride, the end result is that it still helps save taxpayer money.
http://www.jointogether.org/news/headlines/inthenews/2008/seattle-saves-money-by-housing.html

I'm not saying that there aren't problems in government programs that need to be fixed (I still like Eric Jones's idea of compulsory birth control drugs while on welfare - if you can't even support yourself, why create another life you can't support), but it doesn't do any good to pretend that we have complete control over our own destinies, and that people are in dire straits simply because they're lazier than us. As the old saying goes, don't judge a person till you've walked a mile in their shoes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Response to E-mail Forward of Tea Party Speech

Last week, I got an e-mail forward of a transcript of a Tea Party speech. The person forwarding it to me asked for comments, so I spent some time writing a response. A slightly modified version of that response is presented below. Everything from the original e-mail is indented in blockquotes, and my comments are interspersed throughout. His speach was too long to respond to every single point, but I did respond to quite a bit of it. I tried to clean up the formatting and weird characters from the e-mail forward, and apologize if I made any mistakes.

THIS MAN HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD

Dr. Donald May's Tea Party Speech in Lubbock , TX

AT THE TEA PARTY, a black man, Dr. Donald May delivered this message from the courthouse steps in Lubbock. He electrified the audience like I haven't seen in a long time. His delivery was masterful. I am sorry you could not see him in action. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy his words. The news media were there, but not one word of this man’s appearance ever appeared on TV or in print, even though he completely dominated the scene.

No comment, other than wondering why whoever wrote the e-mail thought the man's skin color was relevant to the story. It's about like reporting the color shoes he was wearing.

This is A Time For Courage April 15, 2009 - 11:49 pm

--------------------------------------------------------

"Ladies and gentlemen, This is a time for courage.

"We are gathered here today on the Plains of West Texas in common purpose. We are here to remind our government that this is our country, We the People are still in charge, and our government is still our servant and not our master.

I agree - there's a reason they're called public servants. It's also why I don't like hearing presidents referred to as the leader of the free world. The president is merely the head of one branch of government.

"Our Nation’s founding document is The Declaration of Independence. It tells us that our rights come from God and not from a small group of elite men and women.

No - the Declaration of Independence was a declaration of war against the British, and carries no weight in current U.S. law. The Constitution is the founding document of our current government, and the Constitution makes no mention at all of any god. Additionally, the actual wording in the Declaration is "...that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." Many of the founding fathers, including the Declaration's author, Jefferson, were either deists or Unitarians. Their views on religion were decidedly different from what's considered orthodox (for example, believing that Jesus was merely an inspirational teacher, and neither a miracle worker nor the son of God). So, they may have believed that rights came from a creator, but their idea of the creator wasn't the same as what most Christians think. (http://www.earlyamericanhistory.net/founding_fathers.htm)

"Our Constitution starts with the words “We the People." Our Constitution was written for ordinary Americans like you and me. Our Constitution protects us from our government and from the politicians.

I like the Constitution. It's a good document, and has served our country well. But you can't rewrite history. It was written for white males. It was only later amendments that made it fully applicable to all races and to women. Other than that, yes, the Constitution does help protect us from the government.

"Our President has complained that our Constitution gives ordinary people too much protection. He has ridiculed us for the high value we place on our Bibles, our guns, our personal property, and our liberty. He tells us we do not deserve to keep the money we have earned. We are told freedom has not worked. Personal responsibility, free enterprise, and Liberty have not been effective. Our government will now make more of our decisions for us. Other than our military, I can think of not one government agency I have ever found to be helpful.

I know I don't follow current events and politics as much as I should, but I haven't heard of Obama ridiculing those things. After a little Google searching, all the complaints I've found of Obama ridiculing the Bible are directed at his 'Call to Renewal' Keynote Address from 2006 (http://www.citizenlink.org/pdfs/06-24-08-obama-call-to-renewal.pdf), and only a small portion of it, at that. After reading the speech, and the section where he discusses Bible verses, it doesn't seem like ridicule at all - merely pointing out the problems of trying to use the Bible as the basis for laws in a pluralistic society. After all, Obama is Christian and takes the Bible pretty seriously himself.

The one area where I do agree with May (although I don't know if Obama has used ridicule here), is that Obama does support gun control. He does seem to be further left on that issue than most. However, he's not so extreme that he's going to veto the recently passed bill on credit card reform because of the added provision to allow loaded hand guns in national parks.

I find it surprising that May doesn't like any government agencies besides the military. Personally, I kind of like the Interstate Highway System. I also think NASA does some pretty good things, not to mention the FDA and EPA. The National Park system is pretty nice. On the local level, I'm glad we have police and fire departments. Really, there are a lot of government agencies that I think do a fine job. It's only the ones that screw up that make the headlines. And, like I mentioned the other day, I think a lot of why the government looks bad compared to private business is because the government has to be open about their spending. When big corporations waste money, they don't report it.

And regarding the military, now that I've lived in a town where a significant proportion of the population is affiliated with a military base, and I've heard the stories of what goes on, I'd hardly call the military an ideal organization. There's plenty of waste, politics, cover up, and all the other negatives you'd expect from a large bureaucracy.

"And speaking of our military, how about those Navy Seals blowing the heads off those three terrorist pirates? Don’t you just wish our entire government would function with such efficiency, professionalism, and courage? We watch in disbelief as our beloved United States is weakened economically, militarily, and morally by a radical President and his eager accomplices... What has taken generations to build is systematically destroyed and replaced with the same Socialist evil that brought poverty, destruction, and despair to untold hundreds of millions.

Regarding his comment on the Navy Seals - they're a small, elite group. It would be very difficult to run the entire government as efficiently as special forces. That's why Lockheed has the Skunk Works, Boeing has the Phantom Works, and why small companies in general can do things that big companies can't.

Obama may be left of George Bush, but I'd hardly call him a radical.

"The problems we face today have occurred because we have not defended our Nation from Socialism. For too long we have allowed the wrong people to make the worst possible decisions. The Bible warns us of class hatred. The radical leadership of our government daily fans the evil flames of class envy. Our European and Canadian friends beg us to not make the same Socialist mistakes they did. The President of the European Union warned our President that his Socialist economic plans are taking the world down the “road to Hell.”

I guess May is referring to the stimulus package here, since that's what Topolanek was referring to in his "road to Hell" statement (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/world/europe/26czech.html?_r=1). However, Topolanek was hardly speaking for all of Europe - no more so than thinking that Obama or Bush speak/spoke for all U.S. citizens. At the time Topolanek made the statement, the UK was pushing for increased government spending, while Germany and France opposed further increases. Many European leaders were not happy with him for making that particular statement.

I'll admit - economics is not my strong point, but looking back at the Great Depression, it seems like some amount of government spending does help to pull a country out of a recession/depression. Hoover tried to keep a balanced budget, and didn't do much to help the country out of the Depression. FDR had his New Deal, which seemed to ease economic problems a bit, but still didn't pull us out of the Depression. Then we entered WWII, and had a huge increase in government spending (and from a long term point of view, there's not much more useless spending than military equipment that doesn't build your nation's infrastructure and that's going to be sent to the scrap yard as soon as the war is over), and finally got out of the Depression. How much of that was psychological vs. government spending, I'm not sure, but the government spending certainly didn't seem to hurt.

If May was referring to something other than the stimulus packages, the policy I've personally heard referred to as socialism the most often is universal health care. I don't understand why everyone is so against it. Compared to industrialized nations with universal health care, the U.S. spends about twice the amount on health care (from either a per capita or GDP basis), but our quality of care isn't any better and we have less access to physicians (http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2009/05/are_patients_in_universal_heal.php). Either socialism isn't all that bad, or pundits are throwing around the term where it doesn't apply.

"The path to power for Socialists includes taking God and guns from the citizens. Without spiritual and physical protection, people cannot defend themselves and their liberty. They soon become slaves. We are angered that our President apologizes for the exceptionalism and heroism of the United States of America . We are deeply troubled he told others the United States is not a Christian nation. We are angered that we have been called cowards and racists because we oppose Socialism. Socialism is not racial. Socialism is an equal opportunity destroyer. We are angered that a recent Department of Homeland Security report has singled out our military men and women who are returning home as being radical threats. The report also characterizes you and me as right-wing extremists and radicals because we favor smaller government and lower taxes.

Again, I'm not convinced Obama is a socialist, but ignoring that, how does socialism have anything to do with religion or guns? It's an economic policy. (Citing the U.S.S.R. would be about like citing pre-Civil War U.S. society to say that capitalism leads to slavery.)

If May is upset that someone doesn't consider the U.S. a Christian nation, he would have been furious at our second president, John Adams, and the entire U.S. Senate from 1797. The Treaty of Tripoli, read aloud to the Senate (it was only a couple pages) and approved unanimously, contained the following statement, "As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion..." (http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/buckner_tripoli.html). The Senate made a point to record the vote, and Adams issued the statement, "Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof." [emphasis mine]

"You and I are average citizens who believe just like most of our fellow Americans. We want our government to leave us alone and to keep its hands off our money, our religion, or guns, our private property, and our lives. We demand that our government stop spending money it does not have.

I mostly agree with that (I do recognize that the government's going to get some amount of my money as taxes to support public services). In regard to the deficit spending part, at least, it would be nice to have a return to the Clinton era - the last time the federal government had a balanced budget. On the other hand, I don't know enough about economics to know if Keynes was right about how to get out of a depression.

"Stop confiscating our money and private property.

"Stop printing money.

"Stop subsidizing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the other failed financial institutions and companies.

"Mr. President, stop appointing tax cheats to positions of power and influence.

"Mr. President, secure our borders.

"Mr. President, do not divert money from our missile defense, F-22 Raptors, and other vital military equipment. This gives encouragement, aid, and comfort to our enemies. Protecting us is your number one job.

Nothing really to disagree with here (except again - I don't know enough about economics to comment on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the bailouts). I do find it a bit ironic that someone who wants small government and limited spending wants a big military, though May did already say that the military was the only government agency he liked.

"Mr. President, do not give voting rights to millions of illegal aliens and felons. You have no more right to create new voters for your benefit than you do to use our money to buy the 2010 and 2012 Elections.

Nothing to disagree with here, either, but it seems like a straw man. I've never heard of Obama pushing for giving voting rights to illegal immigrants or felons - easier paths to legalization for immigrants, possibly, but not voting rights for non-citizens.

"We gather peacefully here today because there is a growing concern for what our government is doing to us and to our future. We fear for the very survival of our Republic. Yet there is much to make us hopeful and to fill our hearts with optimism and courage. This is still our country! The Constitution of the Unites States belongs to We the People. Our Constitution still protects us from our government.

Nothing to disagree with here, either, except possibly the extreme rhetoric ("We fear for the very survival of our Republic." Really?)

"Call every possible elected official, including our President, Vice President, and the Speaker of the House. Demand that they stop stealing our money and giving it to ACORN and their other political supporters in order to buy votes. Call Senators Cornyn and Hutchison, and (your) Representative. Thank them. Urge them to do much more. Remind them now is a time for action and not for campaigning.

I've never understood conservative's big problem with ACORN. It's an organization that mainly just tries to get people to register to vote. Sure, their organization was taken advantage of by a few unscrupulous employees who wanted to get paid without actually going door to door, but as a whole, they don't seem to be some malicious organization trying to engage in any widespread deception or illegal activity (http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/the_whoppers_of_2008_--_the_sequel.html). Is there something about ACORN that I don't know about?

"Volunteer to work on our 2010 Census. Confront ACORN. Keep our Census honest. We must not allow our President to take control of our Census for his political advantage.

Again, this seems like a straw man. ACORN isn't trying to cheat the census (as far as I know), and I've never heard of Obama trying to do anything to cheat on the census.

"We must replace as much of our far left Congress as possible in 2010. Get involved... Do not let ACORN control our 2010 Election.

Far left? The House just recently passed the credit card reform bill with an added provision allowing people to carry loaded guns in National Parks. That seems pretty moderate to me. The Green Party is left. Communist Party USA is far left. Freedom Socialist Party / Radical Women is far left. The Party for Socialism and Liberation is far left. Socialist Action is far left. Most Democrats - not so much. (http://www.politics1.com/parties.htm)

"Talk with someone every day who does not understand our nation’s history and our great heritage. Tell them why the United States is a good and prosperous nation. It still remains that brightly lit city on the hill... It still is the best hope for all mankind.

"Brightly lit city on the hill?" Check out the following page:
http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

Ignore all the religious interpretation, and just scroll down to the figures at the bottom (you have to click on the links to see each figure). As far as murders/100,000 people, under-five mortality/1000 births, life expectancy, 15-19 year old gonorrhea infections/100,000 people, 15-19 year old syphilis infections/100,000 people, 15-19 year old abortions/1000 people, and 15-17 year old births & pregnancies/1000 people, the U.S. is worse off than almost every other prosperous democracy. Portugal is worse off than us in under-five mortality; Portugal, Italy, and Denmark are worse than us in life expectancy; and we're middle of the road in 15-24 year old suicides/100,000 people; but in all other measures in the study the U.S. was the worst. We may still be seen as the land of opportunity, but we definitely have some major problems.

"Talk with all of the young people you can find. They are our future. Many do not understand what they have and that their future is being destroyed.

I agree that education is very important. I'm always shocked by the ignorance of our citizens.

"Encourage your elected State officials to pass legislation that will protect us from our Federal government. Governor Rick Perry and others are doing that right now for Texas . Thank them and pray for them.

I do think the federal government has too much power right now (consider how the EPA wouldn't allow California to set their own emissions standards that were stricter than federal standards - http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/19/washington/20epa-web.html), but I don't think it's as big of a problem as some people make it out to be. We live in different times than when the nation was founded, and a strong federal government seems more advantageous now than it would have to an agrarian society. That said, I do think the executive branch in particular has too much power, and I'd like to see the legislative and judicial branches get some of their power back.

"This is a time for strong peaceful action. Let us pray that We the People can quickly return our government to its Constitutional responsibilities. Our President and Congress were elected to be our servants and not our masters...

Again, I agree. I think the executvie branch in particular has too much power. The ACLU has a list of the 10 most egregious abuses of power since 9/11, and I would love to see reforms to where things like that can't happen again (http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/26684res20060906.html). The executive branch should not be able to claim 'executive privilege' or 'national security' to avoid following the laws of the land.

"May God help our President and Congress to quickly realize the error of their ways and stop their reckless and unwarranted spending, cut our taxes, and reduce the size of our Federal bureaucracy. If they do not, may God grant us the courage and determination to vote them out of power next year.

Even if I did think the current government needed to be voted out - who's the alternative? We just got through 6 years of a Republican dominated federal government (both executive and legislative), followed by 2 years of a Republican executive. I didn't see fiscal responsibility during those years. We went from a budget surplus under Clinton to deficit spending under Bush. Perhaps May is a Libertarian, but I don't think there's much chance for a Libertarian dominated government anytime soon.

"May God richly bless and protect each of you, and our Constitution, as together we pursue Liberty !" Delivered at the Lubbock , Texas , TEA Party

by Dr. Donald May

Tax Day, 15 April 2009

Anyway, those are my comments. In general, other than the platitudes, I don't agree with most of what May said. I've admitted that economics is not my strong suit, but considering how erroneous May was in the areas I do know about, I'm not sure how much to trust him in other areas. I do agree with him, however, that the executive branch has too much power, and that not enough people see government as public servants.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Comment on Evolution & Religion

Well, I didn't write any real entries this week. I did the same thing that I've already done a few times - somebody wrote a comment on one of my blog entries, and I spent all week writing them a response. Anyway, some people may find it interesting, so you can go read it in the comment section of Book Review - Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters.

Archives

Selling Out