Monday, August 29, 2011

Be Sure to Not Vote

With elections just around the corner and political candidates starting to make their way to the front of the pack, many of us are really starting to put some thought behind which way our vote will go come November 2012. I would just like to take some time and remind you not to vote in the upcoming elections. Not unless you know what you're doing at least.

But your choice hurts us all

Yes, it is your duty as an American citizen (or citizen of any democratic country for that matter) to vote. It is how We The People voice our concerns, tell the politicians what we think is important, and tell the representatives  how we want the issues dealt with. That one vote that you cast has a lot of power behind it. Multiply that power by every citizen eligible to vote, and big things can happen over a short time. Voting is not a thing to be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, however, many people do not take this power seriously. Some people vote along party lines, some just cast a vote because they feel obligated to, and others still vote based on misinformation. The ramifications of this are unbelievable. The wrong politicians get put into office, bad laws get passed, a mishandling of funds sends states and cities into bankruptcy, and elected officials get too comfortable in their jobs. All this can lead a country, state, or city down a bad path. I have put a lot of thought behind this, and I have come up with a few solutions.

Don't Vote Unless You Know The Facts

Misinformation is a dangerous thing. Not knowing all the facts is just as bad. So before you cast a vote, do research. I was in my senior year of high school when most of my class was eligible to vote in the 2008 presidential election. It sickened me to hear that most of my class was itching to vote for Barack Obama. Not because he was a good candidate, not because they liked his stance on the economy, but because MTV, celebrities, and campaigners said he was a good candidate. If you were to go up and ask someone who they were going to vote for in a few weeks, there was a 90% chance they would say Obama. If you asked them why they would vote for him, they would say that it was because he was a good candidate. If you then asked why he was a good candidate, you would get a weird and confused look from them. They never really knew. They just knew that he was good. 

And this is just one example. In the current election, a lot of facts are left out. Sure Candidate A has a better economic policy than Candidate B, but what about their stance on foreign affairs, homeland security, education, and border control? These things all need to be considered as well. And just one source won't give you all the information you need. Reporters now days add a lot of spin to stories, or misreport stories to make someone look worse than they are. Look at many sources, gather many facts. Think for yourself when two pieces of information seem to conflict. Do more research. You wouldn't buy a house on impulse, so why should you cast a vote half-cocked?

Don't Vote if You're Going to Vote Along Party Lines

I've referenced it before, but political parties are dangerous. They encourage you to vote without thinking, just because you like what the party as a whole says. Last time I checked, one person does not make up the entire Democratic or Republican party. So why should you vote for one person just because they have the support of one party? This ties in with the above point: Check all your facts. Republicans may be pro-life, but the Republican candidate for governor may be pro-choice. Democrats may be against the death penalty, but the Democratic candidate may want to install gallows in every prison in the state. Minor differences in the candidate and their party could mean a major difference in their beliefs and your beliefs.

Don't Vote Just for the Sake of Voting

I remember a scene in the film The F Word in which two men were arguing that a vote for Ralph Nader was really a vote for one of the 2004 presidential nominees (It's been a while, so pardon me please for not remembering which nominee the vote helped). To an extent this is true. Voting for a candidate that you know will not win just because you don't like either of the front runner candidates is a waste.* It decreases the margin between the two nominees, causing problems in which recounts and House of Representative intervention is needed. And even then it's a throwaway vote. It serves no purpose other than self satisfaction. Sure, later on you can complain about the president and say you didn't vote for him or her, but did you really cast a vote if you threw it away? 

I believe that everyone should vote. But I also believe that everyone should vote intelligently. As stated above, voting unwisely or for the wrong reasons can wreak havoc on a government system. Be smart, do your research, and vote wisely, and things will be great. Otherwise, just do us all a favor and don't vote.

*I would to make a special note here. While voting for a candidate that you know will not win is a waste, voting for a candidate you know will not win because you like their political stance is encouraged. In this case, you know what you want, you've done your research, and legitimately want that person to win. They may not win in that election, but it could be the beginning of a movement in Washington to get more of that kind of person on the Hill.

A controversial perspective, don't you think? But it should give you something to think about. And I would love to know those thoughts! Leave a comment or use a resource on the contact page to let me know your thoughts! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

It Takes Two to Tango, but One to Make A Decision

Two adults have consenting sex one night. The result of this act is a pregnancy. One adult in the situation wants to keep the child. The other wants to abort it. The first adult offers to raise the child and never involve the other one. When Adult #1 is a woman, no one really has a problem with this. But when Adult #1 is a man, more than likely the fetus is aborted. What is wrong with that?

Before all the hate commenters and screamers who don't read the article get whipped up into a frenzy, this is not simply a pro-life article. This is an equal rights article. The point here is that if a woman is carrying a child (or fetus? I'm trying to stay neutral with the pro-life and pro-choice terminology here, so please bear with me), legally a man has no say in if it is kept until term or aborted. If it takes two people to reproduce and they are both consenting partners, shouldn't both people have equal say in if it is aborted?

A Woman's Right
Now, a woman's right to do with her body what she pleases is indeed an issue. A woman cannot and should not be forced to do something with her body against her will. It's her body, her right to do as she pleases. However, in the act of consenting to intercourse (trying to keep it semi clean here), does she not share some of her rights with the man? That may sound a bit weird, but think about this: If a woman does not consent to sex, if a man does have sex with her it is rape. He violated her rights and her body. If a woman does consent to sex, it is legal, and in a way the man is enveloped in her legal sphere of protection. Put another way, by consenting to do the deed, she is waiving her legal right to report him for rape. By allowing him the opportunity to impregnate her, shouldn't he be allowed a say in the event of a pregnancy?

A Different Perspective
If you find the previous argument a bit weak, allow me to try another one. When a woman gives birth to a child, she is allowed to sue for child support. The money she obtains is supposed to go for the well-being and raising of the child. Now, if a man is required to pay for a child that he did not want (and this is just an instance, not the rule), shouldn't he be allowed to care for a child the woman did not want? To me, that only seems right and fair. If a man is legally required to pay for a child, he should be legally allowed to care for a child. Is this so bad?

A Slippery Slope
By now some of you have found an important flaw to this argument. If a man can be allowed to save a fetus from abortion, then he would also have a say in if the fetus should be aborted. In other words, if a woman wants an abortion and a man can stop it to raise the child, then a woman who is carrying a child can be told by a court to abort because the man won the case. Now, I'm all for equal rights, but I'm also for saving money on abortions (call me pro-choice with pro-life leanings). Also, this goes against one of the first things stated here: A woman cannot and should not be forced to do something with her body against her will. And while forcing her to carry a child to term is a violation of that, isn't making her destroy the cluster of cells that could one day become a baby be a bigger violation of that?

The Unfortunate Impasse
As you can tell, no matter what someone is going to lose her. Either a woman loses the right to do with her body as she pleases, or a man loses his privilege of one day raising a child. Not the best scenario either way. Though the current arrangement is disproportionate as far as rights go, it tramples on the least rights. If you really look at it, all the man did was donate some of his genetic material, while the woman has a parasite growing in her for about nine and a half months. Because more work, effort, time, risk, and difficulty is involved with pregnancy, it could be argued that a woman does indeed have more say involving the fetus.

Rights, sex, and pregnancies are always complicated. When you put all of them into an arena, the outcome is always messy. The best thing to do is to avoid accidental pregnancies by using birth control and all that. A condom is cheaper than an abortion and more ethical anyway. So the best solution to this problem I can find is to avoid it all together. Can you think of something better?

Well, can you? Let me know! Leave a comment or contact me to share your thoughts!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Novelty is Not A Bad Thing

There's promising new leukemia treatment that's emerging, and I don't think anyone is upset about that. But if you read the article, it almost didn't happen. To quote:
Both the National Cancer Institute and several pharmaceutical companies declined to pay for the research. Neither applicants nor funders discuss the reasons an application is turned down. But good guesses are the general shortage of funds and the concept tried in this experiment was too novel and, thus, too risky for consideration (emphasis mine).
 This makes no sense. Especially on the cancer front, new and innovative ways are needed to help get rid of the disease. But more and more, people are afraid of new and novel things and ideas, and staying more with what they know and what is "safe." This is just wrong.

Cancer, AIDS, leukemia, all those diseases, the traditional treatments just aren't good enough. Chemo, radiation, pills, with all of them the mortality rate is still too high for me to be happy. Taking risks for treatments that could potentially save lives that seem to make sense is a great idea. But many of these treatments are unfunded or unexplored, as mentioned in the above article. My grandmother was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. After a quack doctor gave her six months to live, she explored herbal treatments and remedies. From bed-ridden and dying, to taking herbs to treat the cancer (note the word treat, not cure), she was well enough to go to a cancer center for a better doctor. She is still alive and doing well a year after her six months were up.

As stated, though, these treatments must make sense. I'm not saying to fund every thing that gets put on grant desk. But a treatment that uses a body's own T-Cells to kill the tumors seems like something worth funding. Herbs that can help slow the growth of a tumor, or at least give the patient some vitality during a chemo treatment may be worth looking into. A flashing light that blinds the tumor into falling off is stupid. A regimen of rubbing horseradish and turnip greens over the cancer site should be filed under "Not even if I won the lottery." 

As you can imagine, this is a difficult task. Sometimes great and new ways seem insane and not worth a second glance. But I call for some more serious thought be put into the rejection and acceptance process. more transparency for sure. The article said the reasons for turning down an applications is not discussed. This leaves too much room for politicking and self interest. With no transparency, it's too easy for friends, business associates, and others who may return a favor further down the road to get funding, while people outside the loop or people who slighted someone on the applicant board in the past go unnoticed. 

New treatments need to be sought out. New avenues need to be pursued to cure all kinds of deadly diseases. But being scared of novel ideas is just wrong. Every idea deserves a lot of consideration, and every rejection should be reviewed before it is permanently rejected. Without that, progress will be slow, and more people will succumb to their illness instead of living long and productive lives. And isn't that exactly what we're trying to prevent?

Agree? Disagree? I'm interested in what you have to say! Leave a comment or try one of the many ways of contacting me to let me know your thoughts!

Friday, August 05, 2011

How Far Out of Touch Have Politicians Gotten?

Politicians. I hate them (if you couldn't tell from this post, which I highly recommend you read before continuing with this one). With this whole debt ceiling debacle still hanging over us, we have to ask, what the heck is wring with politicians, and how far out of touch with humanity have they gotten?

In a great article by the New York Times, it seems like people are finally realizing that politicians don't care about them. Instead of acting in their constituent's best interests, or at least honestly listening to what they want, politicians are instead voting along party lines, doing their best to help themselves and their party members re-elected, and overall  not caring about what happens to the rest of us.

Let's look at some of the facts about the debt ceiling issue. 

1. The debt ceiling has been raised forty-four times. Of those times, thirty-four have been for the short term (Source). 
2.President Obama himself has voted against raising the debt ceiling in the past (Source). 
3.The political party not in power has typically criticized raising the debt limit and voted against raising it again (Source, again).

Now, let's ask some questions.
1. Why did Republicans finally dig in their heels now? Why dig them in so deeply?
2. Why did it take so long for negotiations to even begin?
3. Why has "compromise" become such a dirty word in Washington?
4. Why were both parties using this as an excuse to bash the other one, instead of working harder to find a solution?
5. Will we the people of the United States put up with this come 2012?

Look, I'll make this simple. First off, we don't need to be running a deficit to begin with. If citizens can't run a deficit, if businesses can't run a deficit, and if Bank of America is still allowed to foreclose on homes, then why should our government, who is urging us to save more money and pay our bills, allowed to spend more than it makes for several years running? Second, all the political nonsense was unnecessary. Who was it really helping? The stalemate hurt everyone, even hurt the people who are in the same party but haven't entered a single race yet. Third, there was way too much misinformation being spread around. I can understand some people getting their facts wrong, but it almost seems like bad information was being put out there just to scare the public and put more pressure on opponents in Congress. Finally, make no mistake, all parties here were at fault. It wasn't just the Republicans. It wasn't just the Democrats. It wasn't just the Tea Party movement. Everyone in Washington got a 500 Smith & Wesson Magnum and took turns shooting themselves in the foot. 

Of course, this has been just one instance. A very revealing one, yes, but just one. This is the kind of bull that is impeding our progress as a nation. So how do we fix it? For one, research the candidates you want to vote for. Not just what they say, but their voting record and bills they've supported. This is all public record. Another solution is to vote against the incumbent whenever possible. The faster the rotation, the less time the representative has to get too comfortable and play the Washington game. And a last resort solution is to write to your representative. Now, I know elementary school has taught you that writing to a Congressperson actually does some good, but let's face it, it doesn't. The representative has his or her underlings answer the phone calls and answer the letters and emails. However, if they get enough people wanting something AND the previous measures are used to keep the representative on their toes, change can occur.

The debt ceiling fiasco was avoidable. It was all political nonsense that made it into the drama that brought us to the edge and ruined our reputation in the international community. We can fix it, but it will be hard. Speak your mind and prevent something like this from ever happening again by casting your vote wisely.

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? I'm interested in hearing from you! Leave a comment or have contacts with me to open up a discussion!