Tuesday, July 15, 2014
What This World Cup Reminds Us About Right vs. Left Thinking
Every four years, world soccer fans stop to witness their own version of Mt Vesuvius, The World Cup, wherein national pride, soccer passion, and the subjective slant on an objective result erupt for one month, culminating in the sport's pinnacle event and prize, The World Cup Final and Title. As in many sporting events; there are outstanding and poor performances; a maddening mix of good fortune and bad luck; and healthy doses of injustice, unfairness, and suspicious decisions which impact the results. This year's edition has been no different; with the usually fascinating array of favorites performing as expected and others greatly disappointing, as well as surprise Cinderellas and feel good runs by good teams overcoming setbacks.
As I watched this event, however, it became abundantly clear that we were witnessing something not quite seen in recent editions, spilling before us like a sarcastic reminder of the difference between two very different ways of looking at reality. On one hand, we had teams like Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and the United States, all displaying one consistent trait despite varying levels of skill, luck, and success in this tournament. For the most part, these teams worked hard, demonstrated a humble respect for their opponents, and exhibited a healthy confidence in their ability to succeed through taking responsibility for both success and failure.
On the other hand, we had teams like Uruguay and Brazil who, along with their fans, demonstrated a delusional, almost child-like subjectivity and victim perspective which was both insulting to the sport and to their own integrity. Uruguay reminded us that passionate, irrational, and rampant victimization is the genuine antithesis of calm, logical reality. After Luis Suarez clearly and intentionally bit an opponent for the third time in his career and was suspended, the Uruguayan team and its fans wailed on about international conspiracies and prejudiced decisions, only to be embarrassed as Suarez later admitted to the action, although still pretending that it was accidental. We should not wait for any Uruguayan player, fan, or journalist to apologize for insulting us with the protest that this action was imaginary and the suspension the most unjust decision in soccer history.
If Uruguay's sin was blindly defending a spoiled, twisted star player against righteous indignation and just punishment, Brazil, the host, has provided us with an even more embarrassing combination of a warped entitlement with audacious hypocrisy and selective rage. Acting like spoiled children expecting their pre-destined trophy, these players and fans clearly believed that all that they had to do to win their sixth championship was throw their uniforms on the grass and bow. Worse still, they bashed opponents, both on and off the field, who dared to get in their pre-determined path to glory on home turf. Taking advantage of favoritism by some referees and good fortune, Brazil reached the semifinals of what was supposed to be yet another coronation only to be soundly humbled 7-1 by a workman-like, efficient, and proactive German squad which, like many teams in this tournament, did not expect success to be handed to them on a gold plate. As many experts observed, Brazil took advantage of intimidated referees who let them get away with blatant fouls or gave them gift free kicks and even a penalty en route to a game they had no business attending, and from which they were soundly removed.
If we have learned anything, especially recently, it is that blind, mindless, passionate irrationality fueled by irresponsible delusions of entitlement and rampant hallucinations of victimization cannot hide incompetence and foolish futility forever. Sooner or later, the chickens come to roost, and the piper must be paid. The only thing worse than hypocrisy is blatant, insolent hypocrisy, and Brazilian players and fans exhibited those traits in full measure, ranting on when their star player was injured after a referee allowed them to bash their opponent relentlessly for most of the game without much consequence. Ignoring or downplaying their treatment of opponents while wailing endlessly about the injury of their star player, Neymar, these players and fans demonstrated the lowest form of hypocrisy and selective rage.
The parallel between Brazil's behavior and our political Left's thinking is striking. While the Right generally promotes proactive self-responsibility and personal initiative, the Left worships at the altar of reactive irresponsibility and entitlement, wherein people point fingers at others for their failures and cry wolf at every turn. Like a Brazilian team which feigned disaster with every trip and depicted normal tackles by opponents as premeditated terrorist actions, the Left turns drama into an art form in its quest to whine, weep, and push its way to its agenda via the route of victimization. Like a Brazilian team that was ultimately unable to hide its many warts under the guise of emotional entitlement and bullying of opponents who dared to deny that entitlement, the Left is constantly scrambling to hide its twisted logic and irrational claims behind frenzied fantasy and hypocritical intolerance.
Ultimately, Brazil's façade fell beneath the weight of a side which did not expect things to be handed to them. Eventually, the sheer strain of pretending to be competent while whining and feigning victimization proved to be too much for these 23 community organizers who were better at pointing fingers than kicking soccer balls. Just as adept at diving and feigning harm as the Dutch, but far less competent and skilled as a team, Brazil discovered what the Left should have discovered by now, which is that greatness is mostly achieved by those who humbly work hard, respect others, and do not manipulate people and situations for their selfish gain. The great Brazilian teams of Pele and Garrincha gave Brazil its legendary reputation as the creators of the Jogo Bonito, the beautiful game. Thinking that they could live off that legend and gain a title because of their uniform or their home crowd, this Brazilian team reminded us that seeking success through smoke and mirrors never works in the end.
Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi – Mr. and Mrs. Tammany Hall
If illegal aliens and unaccompanied minors from Central and South America voted Republican, the Democrats would surround our country with a force field Darth Vader couldn't penetrate. Yet we need a force field like barrier to protect our nation from an invasion of epic proportion and significant risk to the sovereignty and security of our nation - illegal immigrants, crime and terrorists.
It seems we just never learn from history - ancient, recent past or just yesterday. Tunnel warfare is the new norm. There are a growing number of tunnels leading into the United States from Mexico, not unlike the tunnels that helped defeat us in Vietnam, and the ones from Gaza to Israel or Lebanon to Israel that Hezbollah (Iran-IRGC) utilized in the 34 day war. Fences make for good neighbors. It is an old adage worth repeating. Yet there are those in the US who still claim a fence system won't work, and all point to the news video of people climbing over a section, barbed wire notwithstanding. Of course they breached it....who was there to counter it, and what consequences are there when border security catches them? Lice and scabies and aggravation?!
But if you ask anyone in Israel if the fence system has helped stem the tide of terrorist incursions and the answer will mostly be yes. Why? There's a big difference between ours and theirs. They actually take it seriously and have the armed manpower dedicated to enforcing it. Under Obama, our military, law enforcement, and homeland security have been dealt withering blows to readiness in the form of reduced funding, and executive edicts changing the rules of engagement to ridiculously anemic policies that are sure to protect our enemies and nearly guaranteed to jeopardize our citizens.
A well designed series of layered, aggressive security measures can protect our Southern border - but it will take commitment, new presidential leadership, and hiring actual security professionals, not the academics on Team Obama, few of whom have ever been in the trenches, and know war, terrorism, and threats from a book not from a battle.
As a physician it is repulsive to think our President has tacitly encouraged the diaspora of children - some sick, many poorly educated, a few victims of violence, most encouraged to do so by adults for a variety of ulterior motives - tens of thousands of children, greatly imperiled as they travel through a variety of dangers on a journey landed them at the gates of the promised land - the United States.
That we - the nation nicknamed "America" are a beacon of hope, and that proverbial ‘shining city on the hill,' in spite of our languid, dare I suggest lousy leadership, is nothing short of amazing. And we should be a lighthouse in the darkness of a dangerous world. But that our leaders have done nothing to discourage such a death march, have done nothing to reign in Mexico which is nothing more than a large ‘toll booth" where anyone wishing to traverse its borders may do so, for the right amount of money, and that POTUS et al has done nothing to discourage our putative allies in Central America from dropping off their children as if we were some international day care center or adoption agency, is reprehensible.
There blood on the hands of the Obama, Pelosi, the DNC and the home countries that encourage these children to make the dangerous trek northwards - Honduras, El Salvador, and other similarly corrupt enterprises with a national flag, which claim they are too poor to care for their peoples, but certainly act affluent enough to send a first lady to ensure ‘her people' were properly cared for in our nation (speak about chutzpah). There is also blood on the hands of our leaders for doing nothing over the last several years to discourage illegal immigration; all they have done under the presidents' watch is convey to the peoples' of Central America that a form of "dream act" will occur under the democrats, from various methods - not enforcing immigration law, prohibiting citizenship verification when police detain someone, the use of anchor babies, and now amnesty children, or being in the US long enough that we won't send you home (which under Obama seems to be a New York minute).
Is it any wonder people will take the risk? And is it any wonder their home countries encourage it? Money will flow home to family members who remained in Central America. New tunnels and transit routes will open up, allowing other forms of criminal behavior to flourish - guns, cartels, human trafficking, drugs, kidnapping for ransom. Nothing good comes from an open border, and these children are a visible sign of the magnitude of Obama's failure to his nation, and devotion to his party as well as fervent allegiance to ideology.
During Obama's watch the illegal alien problem in our nation has grown exponentially. Millions of illegals or unlawfuls reside in the US. Obama has done nothing to or with Mexico to curb this problem. Soon the US will become a banana republic like Mexico and other Central American countries. Our border is porous - a sieve. Our nation is hosting too many who cost more than they contribute. Crime has risen. Hospitals are overcrowded. English in many areas is the rarely spoken word. The cost to Americans includes a drain on community infrastructure, increased crime - and approximately $14,000 per person, per year; according to Heritage Foundation studies based upon government data, comparing the costs (welfare for example) balanced against what each illegal contributes. It is a net loss to our community. And the myth that none of us would have fresh fruit without illegals or the unconstrained immigration of Latinos is just that - a liberal myth. Do migrant workers aid in our farming - of course. But the notion that democrats and liberals pedal suggesting illegal immigrants contribute more than they take from communities is just not based upon fact. The public health costs alone are staggering. But that is a critical protection for communities.
Many also send money back to their ‘home' countries - which serves as a revenue stream of sorts. What money you might ask? WIC - the welfare industrial complex - you and me.
Get Bosses Out of Health Insurance Altogether
By Michael D. Tanner
This article appeared on National Review (Online) on July 9, 2014.
The Supreme Court’s decision last week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby has pushed all the buttons that could be expected when sex and religion intersect. Many on the right are celebrating because they value religious expression and feel rather less excited about sex, especially of the non-procreative variety. And much of the Left is outraged because religion is generally considered of far less import while sexual freedom has a high priority. But both sides are missing the point.
It is true that your boss shouldn’t be deciding whether or not your insurance plan includes contraceptives. It is also true that your boss shouldn’t have to pay for your contraceptives if it violates his or her religious beliefs. But why is this debate limited to employers with certain clearly defined religious beliefs, or for that matter to contraception?
The bigger question should be: Why is some woman arguing with her boss about what benefits are included in her insurance plan in the first place?
There’s no good answer. The entire concept that our boss should provide our insurance is an anomaly that grew out of unique historical circumstances during World War II. At the time of a significant labor shortage, President Roosevelt imposed wage (and price) controls, preventing employers from competing for available workers by raising salaries. In an effort to circumvent the regulations and attract workers, employers began to offer non-wage benefits, among them health insurance.
In 1953, the IRS compounded the problem by holding that employer-provided health insurance was not part of wage compensation for tax purposes. This means that if a worker is paid $40,000 and their employer also provides an insurance policy worth $16,000, the worker pays taxes on just the $40,000 in wages. If, however, instead of providing insurance, the employer gave the worker a $16,000 raise — allowing the worker to purchase his or her own insurance — the worker would have to pay taxes on $66,000 in income, a tax hike of as much as $2,400. This puts workers who buy their own insurance at a significant disadvantage compared to those who receive insurance through work.
As a result, Americans were driven to get health insurance through their job: In 1960, just a third of non-elderly Americans received health insurance at work, roughly. Today, 58.4 percent do. (That’s actually down from the peak of 71.4 percent in 1980).
Employer-provided insurance is problematic for several reasons. Most significantly, it hides much of the true cost of health care from consumers, encouraging over consumption. Basing insurance on employment also means that if you lose your job, you are likely to end up uninsured. And once you’ve lost insurance, it can be hard to get new coverage, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.
But, in the context of Hobby Lobby, employer-provided insurance is even more insidious: It gives your boss the power to determine what is and is not included in your insurance plan. The government’s answer, of course, is simply to mandate that certain benefits, in this case contraceptives, be included. But that merely substitutes the government’s judgment for your boss’s. Thus we infringe on your employer’s desires and your own, leaving both of you at the mercy of politicians.
Instead of fighting over religious liberty vs. contraceptive coverage, both sides should agree to start transitioning away from employer-provided insurance and into a system where each of us owns personal and portable insurance, independent of our job.
Getting there requires changing the tax treatment of health insurance so that employer-provided insurance is treated the same as other compensation for tax purposes: that is, as taxable income. At the same time, to offset the increased tax, workers should receive a standard deduction, a tax credit, or expanded Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), regardless of whether they receive insurance through their job or purchase it on their own.
As a result of this shift in tax policy, employers would gradually substitute higher wages for insurance, allowing workers to shop for the insurance policy that most closely match their needs. That insurance would be more likely to be true insurance — protecting the worker against catastrophic risk, while requiring out-of-pocket payment for routine, low-dollar costs. And it would belong to the worker, not the employer, meaning that workers would be able to take it from job to job and would not lose it if they became unemployed.
But it would also mean that workers, not their bosses, would decide what benefits they want to pay for. People could have contraceptive coverage or any other kind of coverage if we wanted it and were willing to pay for it.
In a less politically polarized world, that would be a reform that both left and right could embrace. In this one, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc
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Posted by JR at 12:37 AM