All Journal Entries Journals
Sort By:  

Another sad story and why we need Health Care Reform Now

Oct 12, 2009 - 5 comments

How Our Health-Care System Wrecks People Who Play by the Rules
by Steve Taylor 10-05-2009
Recently, I learned that my parents’ home is being foreclosed on. This course was set due to illness with both parents — they needed to re-mortgage their home in order to pay their mounting medical bills. My father has worked his entire life as an industrial mechanic, has had insurance, and both parents are eligible for Medicare. Thanks to other factors, however — cancer, a rare genetic cardiovascular anomaly, brain surgery, other illnesses, thousands of dollars in medicines, the massive co-pays, other treatments insurance wouldn’t cover, and a tanked economy that deeply hit my father’s industry — my parents are now losing the home.

My father struggled to preclude this from occurring. Through the physical suffering of disease and the constraints of a 76-year-old body, my father did not retire. With his skill set, even in a bad economy, and in a job that is meant for younger men, he desperately continued to work more than most … but still, it wasn’t enough.

Such is the nightmare of the time and culture in which we live — a financial system built on and collapsed by the greed of those who cared little for the consequence, and an insurance/illness industry pregnant by the profits of sick people. In such a system, good people can work hard, have medical insurance, get sick, and lose their homes. It is no wonder that Jesus said, “…for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” It was not meant as a compliment.

The home has been in our family for about a century. My mother grew up in the home. I spent my early childhood years there. My grandparents and great-grandparents lived there. Its walls have contained almost every important event of our family’s life for the last 100 years. And now, on October 16, if we are unable to slow this process through legal action, it will go to auction. Even if we get a few months reprieve, it still seems certain that my folks will lose their home.

The shock of it all has moved Mom into such a difficult space — almost to a point of total dysfunction. That is the very difficult part of all of this. Likely, it is post-traumatic stress. She weeps and keeps repeating, “They are taking our home. We should have been able to do better.” I try to gently explain that she and Dad did nothing wrong, but simply became sick while living in an insane system created to wreak exactly this destruction. But of course, she can hardly hear it. She still sees it as somehow “their fault.”

I’m so angry about this demonic system, a system that destroys the lives of old folks and then seduces them into believing they are guilty of suicide. More than that, I’m angry at my own past compliance in it, only having moved to call for economic and relational justice during the past 15 years. Worse, it was my local church that taught me that not only was my acceptance of such a system appropriate, the system itself was “Christian.” There is much about which to repent. For me … for us all.

If we can get my parents through this without the damage of literally being put on the street, I think they will adjust. But if my mom can’t find a way to be able to leave, I truly am concerned with how she will respond. If they are forced out by the sheriff, their furniture on the street, the shock will kill them.

This is their reality and the reality of tens of thousands of other Americans. My dad and mom did everything that good Americans do. By society’s standards, they played by all the right rules and made all the right decisions. They paid their taxes, didn’t grouse, worked hard, and voted in every election. And now, they are losing their home because they got sick while living in a construct built on greed.

How can this be? Simply because in America, health care isn’t a right. It is a commodity on which profit is made from people who are at the most vulnerable points of their lives.

Do we need universal health care today? No — we needed it before my parents and tens of thousands of others had lost their homes. We needed universal health care yesterday.

So I ask that you join us in prayer. Mom is especially in deep need of the felt-presence and surety of God. And then, I ask you to act. Call your congressional representative and demand universal health care. Teach a class on how Jesus advocates for and literally lives in “the least of these.” Engage in issues of justice. Welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, care for the sick. If not now, then when? And if not us, then who?

My parents never believed they would be in this position. I bet your parents don’t believe it either. And it is almost always somebody’s parents … or children … or neighbors.

Steve Taylor has been engaged in ministries of peace-making and justice for several years, first as a United Methodist Church and Community Worker, and then on staff at the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.

To learn more about health-care reform, click here to visit Sojourners’ Health-Care Resources Web page.

When will this attitude stop? More Education=Less Bigotry

Sep 20, 2008 - 6 comments

Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama
Saturday, September 20, 2008 7:45 AM EDT
The Associated Press
By RON FOURNIER and TREVOR TOMPSON Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

Certainly, Republican John McCain has his own obstacles: He's an ally of an unpopular president and would be the nation's oldest first-term president. But Obama faces this: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.

More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can't win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.

Such numbers are a harsh dose of reality in a campaign for the history books. Obama, the first black candidate with a serious shot at the presidency, accepted the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, a seminal moment for a nation that enshrined slavery in its Constitution.

"There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots," said Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman who helped analyze the exhaustive survey.

The pollsters set out to determine why Obama is locked in a close race with McCain even as the political landscape seems to favor Democrats. President Bush's unpopularity, the Iraq war and a national sense of economic hard times cut against GOP candidates, as does that fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

The findings suggest that Obama's problem is close to home — among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.

The survey also focused on the racial attitudes of independent voters because they are likely to decide the election.

Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren't voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn't vote for any Democrat for president — white, black or brown.

Not all whites are prejudiced. Indeed, more whites say good things about blacks than say bad things, the poll shows. And many whites who see blacks in a negative light are still willing or even eager to vote for Obama.

Still, the effects of whites' racial views are apparent in the polling.

Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice.

But in an election without precedent, it's hard to know if such models take into account all the possible factors at play.

The AP-Yahoo poll used the unique methodology of Knowledge Networks, a Menlo Park, Calif., firm that interviews people online after randomly selecting and screening them over telephone. Numerous studies have shown that people are more likely to report embarrassing behavior and unpopular opinions when answering questions on a computer rather than talking to a stranger.

Other techniques used in the poll included recording people's responses to black or white faces flashed on a computer screen, asking participants to rate how well certain adjectives apply to blacks, measuring whether people believe blacks' troubles are their own fault, and simply asking people how much they like or dislike blacks.

"We still don't like black people," said John Clouse, 57, reflecting the sentiments of his pals gathered at a coffee shop in Somerset, Ohio.

Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word "violent" strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with "boastful," 29 percent "complaining," 13 percent "lazy" and 11 percent "irresponsible." When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.

Among white Democrats, one-third cited a negative adjective and, of those, 58 percent said they planned to back Obama.

The poll sought to measure latent prejudices among whites by asking about factors contributing to the state of black America. One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that "if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites."

Those who agreed with that statement were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn't.

Among white independents, racial stereotyping is not uncommon. For example, while about 20 percent of independent voters called blacks "intelligent" or "smart," more than one third latched on the adjective "complaining" and 24 percent said blacks were "violent."

Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they "try harder."

The survey broke ground by incorporating images of black and white faces to measure implicit racial attitudes, or prejudices that are so deeply rooted that people may not realize they have them. That test suggested the incidence of racial prejudice is even higher, with more than half of whites revealing more negative feelings toward blacks than whites.

Researchers used mathematical modeling to sort out the relative impact of a huge swath of variables that might have an impact on people's votes — including race, ideology, party identification, the hunger for change and the sentiments of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's backers.

Just 59 percent of her white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton's white backers plan to vote for McCain.

Among white Democrats, Clinton supporters were nearly twice as likely as Obama backers to say at least one negative adjective described blacks well, a finding that suggests many of her supporters in the primaries — particularly whites with high school education or less — were motivated in part by racial attitudes.

The survey of 2,227 adults was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 5. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.


Jun 16, 2008 - 2 comments

Sometimes I just feel like this.

How to cut an 8 mg Suboxone pill

May 14, 2008 - 2 comments

Since a few have asked.