• An Inevitable Miracle?

    • Posted on Jul 02, 2017

    This morning's Courier column--the case for Medicare for All as inevitable, given the current aborted repeal and replace--which was always misguided.      

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                Another early July, another wave of love for country, a.k.a. patriotism.  July 4th, that is, with a day for fireworks, picnics, and patriots. 

                Time was.

                Now, not so much. Now we’re like an estranged couple still living together, but not speaking except to protect our separate turfs. Without attitude changes, divorce looms. 

                We’re not there yet, but we’re on track to get there.  A steady 38 percent of our fellow citizens still think “Make American Great Again” actually means something besides empty posturing.  That same group cannot be convinced anything’s really wrong with Republicans except Democrats’ opposition.  They’re followers and fans who seem to have suspended their critical faculties.

                I do remember when it was worse, when citizens were fighting in the streets over an unwinnable war, when a genuinely crooked leader instigated a burglary for political gain, when students were being killed for protesting. It was traumatic. 

                Compared to that late sixties nightmare, we’re only having a bad dream.  Perhaps we’ll wake up, come together, stretch, and start solving problems of health care, infrastructure, climate change,   nuclear-armed lunatics, and terrorism.  That would make for a July 4th worth celebrating.

                But for this holiday, it’s nonstop lying at the top and political paralysis, leaving problems unsolved and unfaced.  Mourning seems more in order than celebrating. 

                Yet there’s another possibility for hope. Unforeseen major events happen, “black swans” that change our world forever. 9-11 was such a cataclysmic black swan, as was Pearl Harbor. 

                Not all black swans are negative, however. Miracles, the opposite of cataclysms, occasionally arise with little warning.

                The Salk vaccine removed the horror of polio in the 1950s which terrorized my childhood, and the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1980s relieved suffering for millions.  Romanians were happily surprised in 1989 when their brutal dictator Ceausescu was deposed and executed.

                So a miracle is possible, and now one seems downright inevitable, thanks to the Trumpcare debacle.

                Medicare for all is coming. Trumpcare—Obamacare minus compassion— seems doomed, either sooner from divided Republicans, or later from Democrats who would almost certainly mount a repeal-and replace effort should Trumpcare pass.

              At some point, what has been obvious to a majority of Americans will occur to politicians: Private insurance doesn’t work in the health care arena.  Never has, never will.  Every other developed country has provided national health as a public right, like clean air, water, and safe food.

                Health care as a right, not a commodity. 

                This means lower costs, because a national healthcare system can negotiate prices with serious leverage for treatment and drugs.   It also brings ease of access, universal coverage, and radically less paperwork—without competing for-profit insurance companies.   

                In fact, with all these pluses, the few problems with universal Medicare seem like minor inconveniences.

                When Trumpcare fails—not if—universal Medicare will inevitably emerge as the best alternative.

                That will be worth celebrating.   

               

               

               

               

                 

               

                

                                                                                               

    Another early July, another wave of love for country, a.k.a. patriotism.  July 4th, that is, with a day for fireworks, picnics, and patriots. 

                Time was.

                Now, not so much. Now we’re like an estranged couple still living together, but not speaking except to protect our separate turfs. Without attitude changes, divorce looms. 

                We’re not there yet, but we’re on track to get there.  A steady 38 percent of our fellow citizens still think “Make American Great Again” actually means something besides empty posturing.  That same group cannot be convinced anything’s really wrong with Republicans except Democrats’ opposition.  They’re followers and fans who seem to have suspended their critical faculties.

                I do remember when it was worse, when citizens were fighting in the streets over an unwinnable war, when a genuinely crooked leader instigated a burglary for political gain, when students were being killed for protesting. It was traumatic. 

                Compared to that late sixties nightmare, we’re only having a bad dream.  Perhaps we’ll wake up, come together, stretch, and start solving problems of health care, infrastructure, climate change,   nuclear-armed lunatics, and terrorism.  That would make for a July 4th worth celebrating.

                But for this holiday, it’s nonstop lying at the top and political paralysis, leaving problems unsolved and unfaced.  Mourning seems more in order than celebrating. 

                Yet there’s another possibility for hope. Unforeseen major events happen, “black swans” that change our world forever. 9-11 was such a cataclysmic black swan, as was Pearl Harbor. 

                Not all black swans are negative, however. Miracles, the opposite of cataclysms, occasionally arise with little warning.

                The Salk vaccine removed the horror of polio in the 1950s which terrorized my childhood, and the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1980s relieved suffering for millions.  Romanians were happily surprised in 1989 when their brutal dictator Ceausescu was deposed and executed.

                So a miracle is possible, and now one seems downright inevitable, thanks to the Trumpcare debacle.

                Medicare for all is coming. Trumpcare—Obamacare minus compassion— seems doomed, either sooner from divided Republicans, or later from Democrats who would almost certainly mount a repeal-and replace effort should Trumpcare pass.

              At some point, what has been obvious to a majority of Americans will occur to politicians: Private insurance doesn’t work in the health care arena.  Never has, never will.  Every other developed country has provided national health as a public right, like clean air, water, and safe food.

                Health care as a right, not a commodity. 

                This means lower costs, because a national healthcare system can negotiate prices with serious leverage for treatment and drugs.   It also brings ease of access, universal coverage, and radically less paperwork—without competing for-profit insurance companies.   

                In fact, with all these pluses, the few problems with universal Medicare seem like minor inconveniences.

                When Trumpcare fails—not if—universal Medicare will inevitably emerge as the best alternative.

                That will be worth celebrating.   

               

               

               

               

                 

               

                

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  • Street People: Part One

    • Posted on Jun 20, 2017

               Getting good at photography requires making choices. I didn’t do that for a couple years—I just snapped whatever pleased me when I grabbed the camera—friends, parties, animals, landscapes, portraits, macro, black and white, “art” photography, app-generated amazements. All fun.    

                Because I was so unfocused, I never got very good.  I have good gear and a fair amount of experience and knowledge, but seldom took photos worth serious attention. I was shooting snapshots.

                Now I’m focusing on to street photography.  That is, unposed shots of strangers—often homeless or poor people asking for money in Charleston, SC, where we live part of the year.    Either they’re sitting on sidewalks around the city with signs passively asking for money, or they actively panhandle, approaching shoppers on the street with their hands literally out. 

                Why street photography? Over the years my favorite photographs—both my own and others, tend to be windows on the world—documentaries in film and news photographs keep my attention and stay in memory longer than posed and art photographs.  Spontaneous, lightly edited, and full of humanity that posing often excludes.

                Here are two I’ve taken recently.  “Shelly” (June 12) sits in the heart of Charleston, on the big fountain at the corner of King and Calhoun streets where Marion Square begins. She always appears with her six-year-old dog, and the dog always seems asleep.

                Just down King street—maybe two blocks from Shelly, sat “Dirty Dan,” (June 18) on the sidewalk, holding his cardboard sign, “Why lie?  All proseeds (sic) used for marijuana research. Please help with 2$.” 

     

     






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“Even before the advent of the Internet, Cawelti’s columns went 'viral' in the Cedar Valley… the role of a columnist is to be thought provoking, to take tacks that shed a different light on an issue or possibly cause a reader to reevaluate a position. At the very least, it should bring clarity to a particular perspective, whether you buy into the commentator’s worldview or not.

Scott's work does just that.  Enjoy this collection of his writing.”

-Saul Shapiro, Former Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Editor
Read Shapiro's entire introduction.

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