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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

As I was sitting in a meeting with a client and my Dad the other week, our conversation turned to politics and the tax ramifications that the new health care reform bill will likely have on self-employers and other small businesses.  Our client is a staunch Republican and supporter of anything to the right (i.e. Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc).  My Dad is also a Republican, but not quite as staunch, or at least not publicly. 

I, on the other hand, and in between and try to look at both sides of an issue before I make a final judgment.  And while I wasn’t necessarily defending President Obama’s proposed plan, I was defending some of the criticism that has recently been levied against him—many Republicans are saying that he hasn’t done anything in the first year of his current four-year term and yet they are sending petitions to stop him.  From what?  It seems to me to be an illogical argument by Republicans to complain that Pres. Obama hasn’t accomplished anything (as so eloquently outlined in this YouTube clip) and yet they are trying to stop him before he does anything.

Anyway, I told this client that “while you may disagree with Pres. Obama’s politics, you can at least respect him as a human being and appreciate his down-to-earth attitude and candor.”  She politely looked at me and almost apologetically said “You know what, I don’t.”

I was incredulous at how blind and myopic someone could be, and this reaffirmed why I hate politics in general.  How can it be possible that an idea is good or bad just because of which side of the political aisle it comes from?  Either universal health care is good or it is bad, regardless of whether it’s proposed by a Republican or a Democrat.  Either entering Afghanistan and Iraq was good or it was bad regardless of whether it was decreed by a Republican or a Democrat.  This is why any and all extremists—political or otherwise—are ignorant in my opinion.

To make a long story short (too late), as the conversation became a little more testy, my Dad interjected and, as the eternal peacemaker he is, said “Don’t worry, Dave is just a contrarian.”  I didn’t say anything at the time, but in my mind I thought “I am not a contrarian!” 

I have never viewed myself as a contrarian nor have I ever tried to be.  I view myself as someone respects both sides of an issue and is more open-minded than most people in the valley in which I live.  I can see why I might seem like a contrarian, but I am not willing to just accept the status quo.  I like to question ideas and determine if it really is the best thing.  For example, as the auto industry continued to crank out these monstrous gas-guzzling tanks, didn’t any think “I wonder if this is really a good thing to buy?”  It seems like the majority of people who bought them didn’t need it but just wanted to keep up with the Joneses.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that in some respects I am a contrarian.  The sports team I love and follow is pretty popular nationally but not in this area.  The bands I listen to are rarely well-known, and if there is a band that is famous, I am almost repulsed by it essentially because of its popularity.  In fact, I have not listened to the radio in probably four or five years because once your mind is opened up to real music, it’s difficult to enjoy the crap that corporations try and shove down your throat.

I guess I am a contrarian by nature.  For example, if my wife were to tell me that I am lazy, which I am at times, I would probably start cleaning the house.  She probably shouldn’t read this, but it’s the truth.

For the most part, I thrive on swimming upstream and immediately proclaim the majority of Americans to be idiots when the number one movie in America is “2012?”  Are you kidding me?  Also, how does a movie like “Transformers” ever have a sequel.  Are we all just sitting in our homes saying, “I like it when things get blowed up.”  I feel like I’m in an episode of the “The Simpsons”when Bart and Homer are in front of the TV anxiously awaiting Fox’s new show “When Buildings Attack.”

I just don’t want to be lumped into the seemingly mindless, zombie-like society that will accept whatever the corporate world will throw at them, garbage and all.  I think it’s because we’re basically afraid of change and don’t want to take the time or effort to discover something outside the norm, even if it could be better.  But I correct the earlier belief and proclaim that I am a contrarian and proud of it.

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Oh No, He Said The “H” Word

Over the last several weeks and months, my wife and I have had to rely on the love and tolerance established during our seven years of marriage as the issue of this country’s healthcare system has come (finally) to the forefront of the political world.  While we both agree, as most Americans do, that healthcare in the United States is a growing problem in both cost and efficiency that at least needs to be reviewed and at most needs to be reformed, we do so coming from diametrically opposing political backgrounds and households.

I was raised in a very conservative-minded home, my father an accountant and my mother a homemaker (for lack of a better description), where politics wasn’t necessarily a common topic but was certainly understood at a basic level–this country was founded on freedom and free enterprise, and less government meant a greater entrepreneurial spirit.  My wife was raised in a liberal-minded home (both parents were teachers) where (according to her) being able to think for oneself with the overall group in mind was the overriding essence. 

A few weeks ago (clearly we don’t talk politics very often), we were shocked when we discovered how incredibly different our idea of a typical member of each other’s political party really is.  (Please be mindful that many of my opinions have been dramatically changed since the inauguration of President Obama, and that these extreme stereotypes are just that).  (As a matter of clarification, when I use the term “he/his/him” it is more a connotation of a human being and not gender specific).  Whenever I think of a typical Democrat, I visualize someone who is poor (both in circumstance and intellect) and has his hand extended waiting for government help.  On the other hand, I envision a Republican to be an industrious, hard-working individual who earns his wealth (both circumstance and intellect) by the sweat of his brow and leaves an indelible mark on society.  According to my wife, she thinks of a typical Republican to be an ignorant hillbilly bumpkin who wouldn’t recognize a rational idea if it hit him squarely in his uni-brow.  On the flip side, she imagines a Democrat to be a well-educated, environmentally aware individual who rises through the ranks and, when given the opportunity to become a leader, accepts it not because of the money or status but because of the loftier ideal of being able to help more people on a grander scale.  Seriously, could our stereotypes be any further apart?

Once we recognized how wide the chasm was between our political views, we could start working towards filling in the void or at least building a bridge with a meeting place somewhere in the middle.  As such, we have conjured countless examples, both positive and negative, to explain the strengths and weaknesses of each political party, and while we may maintain our political roots, we accept each other’s ideology and understand better why we believe what we believe, especially when a hot topic like healthcare is so prevalent and relevant.

In essence, the republican viewpoint (and skepticism) of health care reform is threefold (according to a Fox News poll):

  • New legislation will result in higher costs and thus higher taxes at an individual level
  • Reform will result in a lower quality of health care
  • Most are happy with their current coverage (i.e. status quo) and are skeptical (i.e. afraid) of change (or in other words, the conservatives are just being conservative)

Because the health care initiative is a proposal coming from the democratic side of the aisle, democrats spend much of their time educating the public and dispelling the skepticism/myths.  The best resource I’ve seen yet that explains the health insurance reform is a page on whitehouse.gov called “Reality Check.”  While the facts can be mired in the minutia (a very democratic way), the following help topics are presented in video format from various politicos and individuals like you and me.  (I must make an aside that the Democrats are trying with all their might to entice dialogue about the subject while the Republicans (it seems) are simply putting their collective head in the sand until the problem just goes away–I’m talking to you W!):

  • We can afford reform, we can’t afford the status quo
  • Reform will expand your choices, not limit them
  • Reform will eliminate insurance discrimination
  • Reform will benefit small business, not burden it
  • You can keep your own insurance

I think it says a lot that the Democrats have an organized, easily accessible resource that specifically addresses the many questions and concerns of health care reform while the Republicans have no such resource.  And in fact, I had to rely on a poll by Fox “News” that merely lists Americans’ opinions rather than offers any strong counterpoints.

Without getting too much into why or why not health care reform is necessary, suffice it to say that the United States is the only industrialized country in the world without universal health care.  And while I do believe that we are the greatest country overall in the world, I don’t believe we have the market cornered on superiority or that we are exempt from learning from others.

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