Monday, September 27, 2010

Time; it humbles all.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spending on Health Care...a Bad Thing?

Why is everyone bitching about the ever increasing cost of health care: as in the panicky statement: "We are now spending one-sixth of our Gross Domestic Product on health care. (Gasp!)" Shouldn't spending on health care be a good thing? What should we be spending our money on: more football games? Trips to Vegas? More credit card debt? Higher alimony payments?

Higher health care expenditures produce productivity gains: A healthier citizenry can work longer; they can work harder, better, their mind unshackled by disease, pain and days off. Isn't that a good thing? Isn't that the proper goal of any investment (which in a sense, consumption on health care really is)? The whole society benefits from that increasing focus and spending on a healthy body.

We keep talking about spending more and more on education and government (at least Democrats do). Aren't all three the same thing? A healthy mind and a healthy body (personal and politic) all contribute to a healthier citizenry.

Granted, like any investment, we want health expenditures--and, for that matter, educational and governmental expenditures--to be more efficient, with greater bang for the buck: greater benefits per dollar of cost. But efficiency and the reduction of waste, fat in any system--health, educational, or governmental--is a separate issue from the general direction of our national focus on better and better health.

I say: let efficient health care costs rise and rise in proportion to educational and/or governmental costs. And then let the most efficient and productive horse among the three win. What a wonderful way to spend wisely our collective dollars!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Your Friend, the Truth

Challenge truth. Embrace it, and you'll thrive.

Run from it and you will eventually be doomed.

Reality will eventually win out in the long run.

Like a river, the flow of truth may be blocked, diverted, go underground; or in human terms, denied, but it will eventually be forced by gravity to find its natural level. All nature--including human--finally adheres to reality.

Sometimes, like pain, in the short term, reality can be dulled, avoided, narcotized; but the disease from whence it comes, its origins and control of our destiny, will only continue down its destructive path: culminating in its long term inevitability.

There are unpleasant truths, like forcing on you a harsh blast of pain from a diseased tooth. In the short run you may avoid chewing on that side of your mouth, or place an aspirin on it to alleviate the pain, but the logic on inexorable reality says: Go to the Dentist. Face reality. Otherwise the tooth--your life--will only get worse.

Your finest, best choice, even if it is painful, is always to face truth, reality, as soon as possible; understand it, embrace it. It is your dearest friend.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Getting Out the Vote

President Obama encouraged black voters to get to the polls this year, to prevent a "return to the past." A code word for racism and segregation?

Should his appeal to black voters to vote Democratic be matched by a call for Republican to turn out white voters? (Have the latter done so already?)

Racism cuts both ways; and whatever the source, left or right, Presidential or Tea Party-ish, is abhorrent, disgusting and undignified.

What a horrible, cheap time we are living through.

True Freedom

True freedom is vulnerability to everyone and everything.

I am free because I am unafraid of nothing. Personal fear is what imprisons us. Once we conquer that fear, and open ourselves to total emotional vulnerability, who can conquer us? What can our enemies threaten us with? Telling our secrets? Ha! We have none! Death? We understand it. We have fully exposed our vulnerability. And it has made us unconquerable.

Happiness comes from self-respect. Self-respect comes from effort. Effort comes from courage.

Monday, September 13, 2010

In order to touch many hearts, we must first touch our own.

The Woes of the Upper Middle Class

I have a friend who, along with his brother, are trust fund babies. One day my friend's brother came to him and suggested that they invest in a moderately risky--but highly rewarding, if successful--new venture. My friend thought about long and hard, but finally turned his brother down. When I asked him why, he said, "I can't afford to lose," he said, shaking his head forlornly. "I just have enough now to pretend I have more."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I cried because I had no shoes; until I met a man who had no feet.

The moment of greatest anxiety is just before positive change.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Total Vulnerability: the Ultimate Weapon

The true freedom is open vulnerability to all and everyone. "Now I am free...because I am open and unafraid of no one." Personal fear is what imprisons us. Once we conquer that fear, and open ourselves to total emotional vulnerability, who can conquer us? What can they threaten us with? Telling our secrets? Ha! We have none! We have fully exposed our vulnerability. It has made us unconquerable.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Vive le Difference

I have come to a wonderful conclusion: Racism, sexism and ageism is primarily dead in America. But cultural ism is alive, thriving and kicking. And the two should not be synonymously used.

What do I mean by "culuralism". By that I mean the refusal to most people to be around people with different likes and dislikes, affinities and sensibilities, irrespective of color, gender or age.

I like running backs that when they cross a goal line do not self-congratulate by dancing, shimmying or jumping into the stands. Similarly, I prefer not to play--if I were still young enough to play--football with them. Or darts. Or cards. Black, white or brown, male or female, or age is not the issue.

I like soft Jazz and Mozart. I don't like Acid Rock or Hip-hop or the modern vocal singing style of screaming. Black, white of brown, sex or age is not the issue.

I like books, intelligent discourse and a subtle, ironic sense of humor. I don't like People magazine, screaming heads and fart jokes. Black, white and brown, sex or age is not the issue.

So, if I avoid other people, black, brown, or white, female or male, young or old, who don't like things that I like, who avoid quiet achievement, quiet, complex music, and quiet truth-seeking--as opposed to opinion bombarding--conversation and humor, I'm sorry. The others should--and do--seek each other out and probably--and understandably should--avoid me.

I believe people naturally tend to like people who like like what they like, who behave in a manner that they find compatible--who share their cultural desires and affinities; and to avoid others who do not share these desires and affinities. That is not racism, or sexism, or any other -ism but culturalism.

Let me go a step further: I offer the idea that diversity is not a fundamental fact of human society. It is a learned choice; it is similar to sharing. Both concepts are and should be taught in kindergarten. They are very civilized ideals, mind-enlarging and choice expanding, like a liberal arts education. But like any other element in life, they become off-putting when taken to extremes. If one remembers from one's college experience, although we took a wide array of courses across the whole spectrum of human knowledge in our first two years, eventually we were asked to major, to focus on that which primarily appeals to our sensibilities and likes.

So it should be. (And will be whether we like it or not,) Soon after kindergarten, let the geeks find the geeks, the cheerleaders find the football players, the homely seek the homely, the quiet seek the quiet, and the self-congratulatory seek other self-congratulatory.

This is good and natural: an over-emphasis on forced diversity or endless college courses that have no appeal--or sharing, for that matter--can quickly become very divisive. America was coceived of and works best as a melting pot, not a blender, a stew not a puree. The pursuit of happiness does not mean everyone will end their pursuit with equal desires or achievement.

Viva le difference.

I am not a racist, sexist or, for that matter, in spite of being old, am I an ageist. I like young people, middle-aged people, and old people. But I like them at any age, color or gender to listen with me to quiet jazz and Mozart, to discuss all matters intelligently and humorously, to share the ultimate ideal of objectivity (which is as hard to attain as sharing and true democratic diversity, by the way), and to avoid self-congratulation and fart jokes.

Is that too much--or more importantly, unnatural--for me to ask?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Thinking is a kind of doing...only lonlier.