Tara's Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘United States

The following paragraphs are excerpts of an excellent article written by Anu Partanen in the March 16, 2016 issue of The Atlantic which explains the realities behind “Nordic-style social programs” and how so many Americans, including current political big-wigs, are getting it wrong.   Don’t let the politicos sell you their claptrap!

(All emphases is mine.)

Free Mkt & Socialism

 “Bernie Sanders is hanging on, still pushing his vision of a Nordic-like socialist utopia for America, and his supporters love him for it. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is chalking up victories by sounding more sensible. “We are not Denmark,” she said in the first Democratic debate, pointing instead to America’s strengths as a land of freedom for entrepreneurs and businesses. Commentators repeat endlessly the mantra that Sanders’s Nordic-style policies might sound nice, but they’d never work in the U.S. The upshot is that Sanders, and his supporters, are being treated a bit like children—good-hearted, but hopelessly naive. That’s probably how Nordic people seem to many Americans, too.

 BUT THIS VISION OF HOMOGENOUS, ALTRUISTIC NORDIC LANDS IS MOSTLY A FANTASY. The choices Nordic countries have made have little to do with altruism or kinship. Rather, Nordic people have made their decisions out of self-interest. Nordic nations offer their citizens—all of their citizens, but especially the middle class—high-quality services that save people a lot of money, time, and trouble. This is what Americans fail to understand: My taxes in Finland were used to pay for top-notch services for me.

Here are some of the things I personally got in return for my taxes:

  • nearly a full year of paid parental leave for each child (plus a smaller monthly payment for an additional two years, were I or the father of my child to choose to stay at home with our child longer)
  • affordable high-quality day care for my kids, one of the world’s best public K-12 education systems
  • free college
  • free graduate school
  • nearly free world-class health care delivered through a pretty decent universal network
  • a full year of partially paid disability leave

 As far as I was concerned, it was a great deal. And it was equally beneficial for others. From a Nordic perspective, nothing Bernie Sanders is proposing is the least bit crazy—pretty much all Nordic countries have had policies like these in place for years.

 ….THE TRUTH IS THAT FREE-MARKET CAPITALISM AND UNIVERSAL SOCIAL POLICIES GO WELL TOGETHER—this isn’t about big government, it’s about smart government. I suspect that despite Hillary Clinton’s efforts to distance herself from Sanders, she probably knows this. After all, Clinton is also endorsing policies that sound an awful lot like what the Nordics have done: paid family leave, better public schools, and affordable day care, health care and college for all.

 …supporters of not only Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but also of Donald Trump, are worried about exactly the kinds of problems that universal social policies can help solve: worsening income inequality, shrinking opportunity, the decline of the middle class, and the survival of the ordinary family in the face of globalization. What America needs right now, desperately, isn’t to keep fighting the socialist bogeymen of the past, but to see the future—at least one presidential candidate should show them that.”

The Atlantic

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/bernie-sanders-nordic-countries/473385/

 

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“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it begets more violence. With violence, you can murder the hater but you just increase the hate.  Hate cannot drive out hate. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that; only love can drive out hate.”

                                      – The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

With the unprecedented emergence of civil unrest around the world  images of massive, coordinated efforts by diverse populations gathering in the streets to make themselves heard by the powers-that-be have been presented to us by the media as never before.   These efforts have been met by governmental violence and suppression of civilian rights in shocking ways.

I chanced upon the following story this morning and was stunned by the simple beauty and courage of this response to violence and hate.

 

In 1992 an artillery shell killed twenty-two innocent civilians standing in a bread line in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Vedran Smailovic, a former principal cellist for the Sarajevo Opera, responded by donning his tuxedo, bringing his instrument to the bomb site and performing alone for the next twenty-two days as the shelling continued. Twenty two days, amid shrapnel and sniper fire, Smailovic played; one day for each of the twenty-two friends and neighbors who had been killed.

http://myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=vedrans

In 1997, after hearing this story, 10-year-old Jason Crowe, was moved to action. He is working to create a tribute to the spirit of the Bosnian people in the form of the Children’s International Peace & Harmony Statue, to be shipped to Bosnia as a gift from peace-loving people around the world, especially children.

“We will inherit the new millennium and we must voice our desire for peace and show the world we are willing to work for it. The statue itself will be our voice giving us a way to shout, ‘Never again must mean never again’.

The Children’s International Peace and Harmony Statue will depict and honor: 1. The spirit of all Bosnians who have lived through or died in the madness of ethnic cleansing; 2. The spirit of harmony that cries on like a lone cello in a world full of violence which refuses to listen; and 3. The spirit of children around the world who want peace and harmony, not war and genocide, as their legacy in the new millennium.

 For more information or to support Jason’s project go to: 

http://myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=jasoncrowe

Are you aware that most of our elected officials spend 1/3 of their day fund-raising for their next election instead of doing the people’s business?

Most of our economic and social justice problems can be traced to corporate donations buying our politicians and civic leaders. Money from special interests corrupts the system and drives up the cost of winning an election making it virtually impossible to run for office without huge sums of money from large corporate donors.

On March 8 California has an opportunity to level the playing field by passing Measure H. Public funding is a system that is working in 8 states and has a proven track record of removing the conflict of interest that exists when politicians are beholden to the corporate donors that support their campaigns.

Measure H will allow those elected officials who opt to use public funds to actually do their jobs instead of spending 30% of their time fund-raising for their next election.

Please read about Measure H and do what you can to support its passage. The Yes on H web site will answer all your questions.

http://www.yesfairelections.org/

California Gull

Image via Wikipedia

This is a reprint of an article from yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune:  I want to personally thank  Tribune columnist Robert Kirby for a welcome reality check.  In an era of absurd news items this is one of the more absurd of late.

The State Bird of Utah is…. the California seagull(!?!) And now they want a state gun!

“A bit of personal disclosure seems in order before I start. Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, is a friend of mine.

Carl and I live in the same neighborhood. I used to be his home teacher. His wife Sherry is a wonderful woman, who, like my wife, struggles daily with the misfortune of being married to a lunatic.

That said, I do not share Carl’s uber-conservative politics. He knows I don’t vote for him. In fact, whenever I see Carl on TV, I want him to shut up. He won’t, though, but then neither will I.

Carl is currently sponsoring a resolution that would make the Browning model 1911 handgun Utah’s official handgun, a move I find completely ridiculous.

First, because we need an Official State Firearm like we need a hole in our … um, never mind. We just don’t need one.

But if we did, it shouldn’t be the model 1911, even though famed Utah gunsmith John Moses Browning invented it.

I get that we have some official state symbols, including a few which actually make sense — the state animal is the Rocky Mountain elk, state fish the Bonneville cutthroat trout, and coal is the state rock.

Then there are the head scratchers, such as the state cooking pot, fossil, tartan, vegetable, HISTORIC vegetable, star, anti-depressant, grass, dance, colonoscopy, hymn, etc.

Note: I made up a few of those. I’ll let you figure out which ones.

I’m against the proposed Utah state gun for the same reason I’m against the California gull as the Utah state bird — it’s a poor fit and representative of Utah only by the thinnest of margins.

The seagull (flybyus excretus) became the Utah state bird not because it’s indigenous to Utah or, frankly, even motivational. It’s because of religion. Seagulls reportedly once ate all the crickets threatening Mormon pioneer crops.

Religion is also behind the official state emblem (beehive), state bug (honeybee), state flower (sego lily), and state vehicle (minivan). None of these are particularly inspirational or even solely specific to Utah.

Carl wouldn’t agree. According to him, the Model 1911 is “an implement of freedom that has defended America for 100 years. … This firearm is Utah.”

With all disrespect, no, it’s not. If you want a gun that is Utah, it should be the Hot Glue Gun. After all, more Utahns own one of those than a .45-caliber automatic.

Scrapbooking, church crafts, weird hobbies and jury-rigged fixes, the hot glue gun has contributed far more to making Utah what it is today than the Model 1911.

Like an actual firearm, a glue gun can be used inappropriately by fools and criminals. I’m both. Following a hiking accident last year, I tried fixing a split toenail with a hot glue gun. I immediately wished for a Utah state burn ointment.

On the bright side, perhaps there’s a loophole in Carl’s Utah state firearm resolution. If it is adopted, maybe then, like the California seagull, it will be against the law to shoot them.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com.


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As a member of the Americana-Folk/Rock band, John Zipperer & Friends, Tara performs in around Los Angeles, CA (with an occasional out-of-town appearance). Come see for yourself why John Zipperer's CD "Full Circle" has been on the top 25 of the Roots Music Report Album Chart for over a year!

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