Recent Writings

A skeptical mind is a healthy mind

What, me worry? – Alfred E. Neuman

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was blessed by Apollo with the gift of prophecy. But when she spurned his advances, he laid a curse on her that her prophecies would not be believed. Much to the regret of the Trojans.

Back in the day, prophets prognosticated by studying such meaningful signs as entrails and a bird sitting on Jupiter’s statue. The western mind has moved beyond such nonsense studying instead verifiable evidence. We call it science and good business practice. Nonetheless, a portion of humanity has not lost its penchant for boundless, groundless faith.

Prior to World War II, Winston Churchill played Cassandra with a deluded British public that preferred to ignore warnings about Nazi Germany. History shows how that came out.

Progressives keep playing Cassandra about the unsustainability of our health-care system, increasing wealth disparity, population growth, housing shortage, and climate change. In response, conservatives soothe the masses with “Don’t worry. The market will make things right and the cataclysmic storms, droughts, and floods are natural aspects of the earth’s climatic cycles. Probably due to sunspots.”

Polls, though, are indicating the American people are catching on as crap hits close to home. More are realizing the American Dream has become a pipe dream and climate change is real.

Among the new normal: Seniors living marginally on regressive incomes; unattainable home ownership for middle-income Americans due to sky-rocketing housing prices and more units being scooped up for second homes or converted into short-term rentals; workers scraping by paycheck to paycheck.

“The Midwest is an area that is getting restless about what they hoped was going to occur and what they feel is not occurring,” Marist Poll’s Lee Miringoff writes about its latest findings. Small-town residents since July have shifted from preferring Republicans by 16 points to preferring Democrats by five and support among whites with college degrees has shifted 15 points to the Democrats.

Party identification and race remain major factors, Miringoff writes, but gender numbers are much bigger than might be expected after 2016 with women support for Democrats growing seven points. In the end he says, “This is an election about gender.”

A Quinnipiac Poll shows even wider trends.

Middle- and lower-income workers are seeing the Republican plan of allowing the marketplace to solve the health-care crisis as a sham. According to the latest Reuters survey, 70 percent of Americans now support Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system. That includes 85 percent of Democrats and, surprisingly, 52 percent of Republicans. Only 20 percent of Americans say they outright oppose the idea.

Those numbers correlate to the growing support for creating a universal health system that Jared Polis “passionately supports.”

“Treating an illness or injury,” says Polis, “should never be a luxury afforded only to the wealthy few who can afford it. Your income, location, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or current state of health should never be a barrier to receiving affordable, high-quality health care.”

The current Republican Party leadership thinks otherwise, as it simultaneously drives up the national debt at a drunken-sailor rate. Joe Scarborough points out that it “will create more debt in one year than was generated in the first 200 years of America’s existence.” Their current plan to resolve the health-care crisis and spiraling debt is to create more debt by enacting a 3.5-trillion tax cut for the uber-wealthy. Go figure.

The subtext of the Marist and Quinnipiac polls is that more Americans are awakening to the BS spewing from FOX and other rightist information silos.

In a Washington Post piece about Mad magazine, University of Maine professor of journalism Michael J. Socolow writes, “History has shown that while we can be stupid and credulous, we can also learn to identify irony, recognize hypocrisy and laugh at ourselves. And we’ll learn far more about employing our critical faculties when we’re disarmed by humor than when we’re lectured at by pedants. A direct thread skewering the gullibility of media consumers can be traced from Barnum to Twain to Mad to “South Park” to the Onion.

Ronald Reagan said about the Soviet Union, “Trust, but verify.” Many Americans now realize they’ve been sold pyrite. A skeptical mind is a healthy mind.

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