One of the most amusing (if you have a sick sense of humour) things about the debate between fans of the current US system (devotees of privatised health care) and those proposing a more rational and efficient system, is the whole “I don’t want to pay towards the care of another”.
Once you get past the level of selfishness approaching a sociopath, and think deeply about how insurance – any insurance – works, you realise something. People with private health care insurance are already paying for the health care of others because that is how insurance works.
The insurance company sets monthly premiums at a level they calculate will leave them with profit after all the healthcare costs and overheads are taken care of. Most of the people paying those insurance premiums are unlikely to ever use up those premiums on their own health care; those premiums are going towards the healthcare costs of those who do exceed the total value of all the premiums they’ve paid. And of course to fill the pockets of the insurance companies.
So the next time someone objects to “socialist” healthcare by saying that they don’t want to pay for the healthcare of others’, just point out that they already are.
Now I will freely admit that I’m no fan of Trump … nor the right-wing in general; neither the “moderates” (although one could question just how moderate the “moderates” are) nor the extremists. But with the latest shindig at CPAC, the Republicans have made themselves laughing stocks.
To deviate into the cesspool of christianity, the Trumpists are doing exactly what pissed off Moses so much – worshipping an idol :-
You shall not make for yourselves idols
Source: Leviticus 26:1
But if you insist of worshipping an idol at least have some aesthetic sense about it. A shiny gold statue? Tacky. Shorts made out of the flag? Not just tacky, but a breach of the US Flag Code. It’s laughable that a foreigner with dislike for rampant nationalism knows more about respect for the US flag than those ultra-nationalists.
So the US tried to confirm the election of their next president yesterday and were somewhat delayed by a bunch of Trumpist terrorists who seized the Capitol building whilst the politicians ran for cover (perfectly reasonably).
There are several remarkable things about this incident – firstly, how on earth did they manage it? Anyone would think that the Capitol building in the middle of a contentious election process with known extremists planning a “protest”, would have more than enough law enforcement to stop the trashing of the building.
There are those claiming that there was collusion between the insurrectionists and law enforcement; perhaps and it is certainly worth investigating that possibility. But what I’m curious about is who is in charge of law enforcement at the Capitol building and whether they are guilty of collusion.
But the other category of people who should be worried are the instigators of this incident. The Republican extremists who have doubted the results of this election even after over 60 court cases have taken place and found nothing that would justify overturning any results.
Doubted to the extent of openly questioning a legitimate democratic result up to and including inciting this very incident.
They are guilty of incitement to riot at the very least, and they should face consequences too.
Lastly the radicalisation of the right-wing brought about by media pushing lies, conspiracy theories, and downright garbage in the name of “news” should also be blamed for this.
In the wake of the tearing down of many US statues of Confederate generals and in the UK, the removal of a statue to a slave trader in Bristol, there is an ongoing debate about the status of statues in the public space.
And some pretty daft things have been said about it.
One of the daftest is the notion that they represent our history and destroying them is destroying our history; no they don’t and no it isn’t. History is a lot bigger and more diverse than the handful of historical (in some cases) so-called heroes.
The best a statue (almost always of an old white dude) can achieve in that direction is to spark an interest in history. And replacing the Bristol statue of Edward Colston with a statue of Paul Stephenson would have very little effect on this “sparking effect”. From a purely ancient history perspective, I might prefer one to Robert Fitzharding, but given that there is no shortage of statues to old white dudes, someone else can take centre stage.
In the US, it is rather peculiar to say the least that many US cities have statues to traitorous (not to mention racist) Confederate generals. Even ignoring the political question of why they are there, a fair few of them have little to no aesthetic value – if I were one of those dead Confederate generals, I’d be saying “Look, I may have been pretty ugly but at least I looked human!”.
But it gets on to an interesting point – we don’t so much worship the real people depicted in statues as our idealised version of them. In the case of Confederate generals (and ignoring the conscious and blatant racists), some view these as heroes of states’ rights which is more than a little invented – those making up the Confederacy were quite happy trampling on states’ rights when it came to achieving things they wanted (such as the return of run-away slaves).
In some cases the myth of the man (and woman in some rare cases) is enough to justify their statue despite what they were like in life – for instance Churchill was a racist and an imperialist but he also represents anti-fascism, Britain’s war leadership, and the initiation of the European state project.
There are those who would point to the Bengal famine of 1943 as a reason why he should not be venerated in statue form. He certainly deserves criticism for his handling of that famine and bears some responsibility for it, but he hardly caused the famine and there was plenty of other things going on at the time.
Back to the Confederate generals … I don’t think their myth is sufficient to justify the continued existence of their statues in the light of their very real crimes.
In the case of at least some statues, their origin story can be more interesting than expected – for instance there is a statue of Oliver Cromwell outside the British parliament that was put up in the late 19th century. At the time, it was felt that putting up such a statue was rather provocative given the situation with Ireland at the time.
So no public money went to funding the statue; a ‘benefactor’ paid for the statue, but it was put up in the public space anyway – kind of missing the point!
But is the violent removal of such statues justified?
Normally, no. But in some instances, yes.
In the case of the Bristol slave trader, people have been trying to have the statue removed through official channels for over twenty-years! If you do not have a sensible way of handling reasonable objections to questionable statues in a reasonable time frame you can’t get too upset when people resort to direct action.
There must be a sensible, timely, and semi-democratic mechanism by which statues in the public space can be removed – perhaps if 25% of the local electorate vote to remove it, it should go. Whilst this is not properly democratic, if a statue is offensive to a quarter of the local population it seems not unreasonable to remove it.
Trump has arrived in Europe and immediately tried to insert both feet into his mouth – he insults the other members of NATO by openly criticising them for not meeting their commitment to military spending, and claims that NATO owes money to the USA for protection.
Now there used to be some grounds for criticising the European members of NATO for not spending enough on their military, but the spending has been going up in recent years (despite austerity). You don’t criticise someone for being overweight when they’re on a diet and have lost half their flab!
And Trump claimed that Germany is under the control of Russia because of Germany buying natural gas from Russia! First of all, the figures he were using were wrong, and when you boil it down Germany’s energy needs are very rapidly being switched to renewable energy sources – on some days all of Germany’s energy is supplied by renewable energy sources.
Trump exhibits the diplomatic skills of a rabid dog.
European nations aren’t dumb – we watched Russia blackmail Ukraine over gas supplies in winter and know that we need to wean ourselves off Russian gas. And we know that the US has sent us a self-destructive idiot to deal with; those meeting with Trump will be gritting their teeth and putting on their most diplomatic face.
The other interesting thing is the effect Trump’s attack on NATO has had on the US Senate; they’ve basically passed a resolution (passed 97-2) saying in a long-winded way: “Ignore that idiot Trump, we’re fully behind NATO”.
There are those in the US media saying that Trump is Putin’s biggest ally on all of this – he apparently would rather do a deal with the Russians than with the traditional allies of the US. Is Trump actually an FSB agent?
No. The Russians might well make use of Trump and drop him an advantage or two, but they’re not so dumb as to employ an idiot like Trump.
Trump is a clear and present danger to the interests of the US; not the stuff like treating immigrants like criminals (although that is bad enough) but the big stuff; stuff that will encourage Republicans to turn on Trump – National Security and the economy.