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Priorities!(89 posts)

Priorities!Len J
Jan 28, 2002 4:53 AM
Currently in this country:

Somewhere between 30 million & 75 million people hve no access to bassic health care (65% of them children) because of cost.

The average senior receives approx $650/mo social security and has $250/ month cost for prescription drugs.

In 1992, when my brother went into drug rehab, the state provided 90 days in-patient care followed by 90 day out-patient treatment. Today, he would be on a 2 to 4 week waiting list to receive 72 hours of in-patient with little chance at out-patient. All because of funding cuts. My brother has been clean now for almost 10 years, if he had been given what is available today, he would be dead.

All of the above situitations are the result of reductions in funding.

So I pick up the Washington Post yesterday and read that Bush is asking for a military budget of $379 billion which includes a $48 billion increase in funding. How much is $379 billion?

It is the size of the entire economy of Australia or the Netherlands, and bigger than the Russian economy.

It matches the combined military spending of the 15 countries with the next biggest defense budgets. (The proposed increase alone is the same as the entire budget of the next biggest spender-Japan).

It roughly matches (in inflation adjusted terms) the defense budget at the height of the Vietnam war.

Now, I can understand (in light of the 9/11 incident) a reapportionment of how we spend our defense dollars, but I can't for the life of me justify a budget that is 8 times as large as the next biggest budget. Not when we have so many pressing needs at home. If we limited our budget to 5.5 times the next largest, we would have $115 billion to "invest" in the people of this country who need it the most. How about education?, or health care?

How did our priorities get so screwed up?

re: Priorities!netso
Jan 28, 2002 6:39 AM
I went through the same thing with my son who was crack addicted. Waiting lists and 72 hours etc. If we were not able to afford to spend our own money he would be dead, so would we with worry. His addiction also caused many brushes with the law, which should have been avoided with proper care.
re: Priorities!Len J
Jan 28, 2002 2:01 PM
Glad to hear he came through this ordeal. I know that your support (even when making the hard decisions) is one of the reasons he made it. I wish him & you continued success.

re: Priorities!netso
Jan 29, 2002 4:01 AM
I am glad he appears to be making it, do not know how people make it without help. It was a trying and emotional time for us all. Difficult for him because of the addiction, difficult for us because we could not understand it. I hope it turns out for the best!
re: Priorities!Len J
Jan 29, 2002 4:44 AM
Toughest thing a parent can watch happen to one of thier children. Good for you for sticking with him. Hope he continues with his recovery.

what happened to individual responsibility?Dog
Jan 28, 2002 7:10 AM
I don't want to be argumentative, but I'll try to point a few things out for balance.

"Somewhere between 30 million & 75 million people hve no access to bassic health care (65% of them children) because of cost." -- This is unfortunate. But, would many of them have health care if at least one of their married parents took a job providing insurance? I think much of the cause is the outrageous rate of unmarried people having children, which provides a less than optimal family situation. There is little sense of responsibility of unwed fathers. I'd like to see the breakdown of the groups. Also, I'd like to see numbers of how many of the 30 million or so actually go without care for an illness. Some hospitals and clinics in larger areas take care of these people pro bono (that is, on you and me).

"The average senior receives approx $650/mo social security and has $250/ month cost for prescription drugs." First, people should not look to SS as their only means of retirement. I'd imagine most don't. Second, you are attempting to link the same people as having an income of only $650 (implied) and spending $250 on drugs. The numbers don't say that. Those with SS income of $650 might have other income or savings far in excess of that. The stat only references the SS income. Also, there may be some richer folks or insureds who spend $thousand on drugs, skewing the numbers. All I'm saying is that your numbers have an emotional appeal, but may not really say what is implied.

If we reduce military spending, I fear that we would have more 911's or worse. The number one function of the federal government is defense. I'd prefer that that be the nearly only function, and everything else be handled locally.

While it does strike an emotional chord to want to take military spending and assist those less fortunate instead, that could be penny wise and pound foolish. The world is not a safe place. There are those who would kill us, given the chance. All the health care available wouldn't do much good, then.

I think comparing budgets with other countries isn't very useful, except I'd almost prefer everyone else know we are outspending, out-teching, out-manning them in military terms so that they will not even think about attacking us. Japan attacked because they thought they could win. Hitler attacked because he thought others could not defend or would not care to intercede. Since then, it's as if "there's a new sheriff in town, and he carries a big gun. Don't mess with him." Yes, it's sort of silly, but I'd hope the message comes through.

As far as priorities, let's look at them on an individual basis. I see families going without health car, but they have 3 VCR's, cell phones, 2 cars, satellite television, and Nike Air Jordan shoes. They have children without the means to provide for them. They have children out of wedlock. They run up credit card debt and then declare bankruptcy. No, this is not in reference to anyone or any group in particular, but an amalgram of many people. Where are their priorities? The sad thing is that they have lost a sense of individual responsibility due to 60 years of post depression Roosevelt socialism telling them the government is there to take care of them. How DID our priorities get so screwed up?

Gee dog,let me guess.MB1
Jan 28, 2002 7:17 AM
You're no Democrat? If it matters I am one of the 15% of voters in the District (Taxation Without Representation-right there on our license plates) who registered Republican.

BTW nice flame bait there! LOL!
what happened to individual responsibility?LLSmith
Jan 28, 2002 7:36 AM
I must agree. As long as individuals keep letting the government take care of them, they will stay exactly where the government wants them... Dependent! I think there will always be room for improvement in healthcare and other areas, but take a look around the world. Things are pretty darn good at home.
what happened to individual responsibility?netso
Jan 28, 2002 7:36 AM
Well Dog, I pay taxes as do most people. I expect to get my money's worth. I make enpugh money, however my sons Rehab cost me in toto almost $60, 000. Can you afford this much responsibility? We are one of the few CIVILIZED countries that do not provide medical care. But we can afford massive military expenditures?
don't know what to say about rehabDog
Jan 28, 2002 7:51 AM
I don't know much about drug use. I don't do drugs, and for that matter, I've not been around anyone who abuses drugs.

Also, I didn't even address this issue because I realize it is very personal and emotional. If I could address it in the abstract, or generally, I will.

I would think the best "medicine" for drug abuse would be education before the use starts. That is, tell kids from the time they are born "drugs are bad," and set an example. Don't go shoving drugs down them when they act up at school. Don't allow them to see movies that glamorize drug use. Don't get drunk, at least in front of them, etc.

All that aside, I realize there will be some people who abuse and get addicted. If we are treating this as an illness, even similar to cancer, a broken leg, or anything else, I would hope that people would obtain insurance and/or save for such contingencies. I think that is the answer, as cold hearted as it sounds. I think we need to return to a society that values self-sufficiency, individual responsibility, and not looking to government to solve our problems.

We we do look at the world from perspective, many things might change. We might teach children (and adults) more about safe sex or abstinance, or at least monogamy. We might save for retirement, rather than blowing cash on the latest electronic gizmos. We might take care or our bodies ourselves, rather than relying upon public hospital emergency rooms or even insurance. It's a mindset that thinks, "I'd better take care of myself and my family, because no one else is going to." It changes everything.

Sorry about your son. I don't mean to sound heartless. That must be tough.

Those of you that know me....Len J
Jan 28, 2002 8:06 AM
from this forum know that I believe & in fact live my life on the premise that "Life is about choice" and that personal responsibility is very important to me. I do believe that many of today's problems are caused by people not taking responsibility for thier own actions.

However, I think it is unrealistic to expect a postal worker with 3 kids making $40,000 before taxes to be able to pay for rehab should thier child succumb, while they are also trying to save for college. And don't try to say that if they were a good parent thier child wouldn't need rehab. That just doesn't fit the facts of the real world.

I think that a society's measure is not just about the great & successful things it does but it is also about how they deal with the weakest members of that society. I don't think we do as well as we should.

I also think that there are two different parts of the question I asked:

1.) is about social justice & the role of government. We have spent time on this.

2.) the other is about wether we can justify Military spending that is 8 times more than any other nation. No one has addressed this.

I'll say it...TJeanloz
Jan 28, 2002 8:25 AM
Children of good parents don't need rehab. Heck, I had lousy parents and I don't need rehab. You talk about drug abuse like it's a disease that can't be avoided. It's like promiscuous people who get AIDS or other STD's- they always play it like their behavior had nothing to do with where they ended up. Please.

The point that often gets drowned though, is that I do believe that SOCIETY has an obligation to help drug addicts and people who face medical challenges. There is a difference however, between government and society. We are a charitable and giving society, and I believe that it is our duty to help people who need our help. BUT it is not the place of government (in my opinion, of course) to force us (through taxpaying) to help these people. We should want to help people who need help, but we should not be forced to help them.

I think we can justify as much military spending as we are able to spend. One thing that often gets overlooked about the military is that spending isn't just on missle defense and bombs- the military does a fantastic job of training American youth for the real world. It is the largest public educational institute in the country. I can't tell you how many messed up kids I grew up with went to the Army when I went to college, and now they're well adjusted, responsible adults. I wouldn't be opposed to sending drug addicts to Parris Island for some drying out and then a couple of years of military life.

If we spend the minimum to keep our children safe (I love appealing to 'the children), and that's 8 times more than anybody else, can we afford to spend any less?
It must be nice....Len J
Jan 28, 2002 8:39 AM
to stand in that loifty place & make such generalizations about something that it appears you have so little experience with.

"Children of good parents don't need rehab."

I wish I could introduce you to the thousands of good parents with good homes whose children needed rehab that I have dealt with in my life. Drug and alchaol abuse is a disease that can only be avoided (IMO) by knowledge that you are sussectible (which all people aren't). I wish I had a nickle for every teenager I've dealt with who "experimented" "Knowing" that it couldn't happen to them, only to get addicted.

Sorry if my response sounds harsh, but reality paints a much different picture than your generalization.

I think it's in the definition,TJeanloz
Jan 28, 2002 8:48 AM
You'd have a hard time convincing me that a parent who's child became addicted to drugs had provided a 'good home.'

I never touched drugs because I know, based on my sometimes sad genetic history, that the risk of addiction is too great (for me).

Are you seriously saying that a parent who's child becomes an addict was a good parent? It seems to me that that is the perfect example of the results of poor parenting. It is the parents job to educate their children about drugs. If they don't do it successfully, how can they consider themselves good parents?
Did you listen to everything your parents said?Len J
Jan 28, 2002 9:16 AM
Did you never take a risk? Do you seriosly think that kids from "Good" parents can't get addicted, don't get addicted, never experiment?

I think its naive to think that we as parents can protect our children from the world. Yes, more reality based conversations with our children does reduce the risk, but it does not eliminate it. All parents are human & as such, "Good" parents do make mistakes. "good" children from good homes do become addicted. Should we throw away these children?
Of course I listened...TJeanloz
Jan 28, 2002 9:25 AM
It would have been rude to not listen, I didn't believe it all...but I was willing to listen.

My point is really that if children are from a "good home" and become addicted- how "good" was that home? The minute a "good" parent makes a grave mistake, he ceases to be a good parent. This is part of the obsession American's have with not hurting people's self-esteem. Every parent likes to think they're a "good parent"- even when the evidence, like drug addicted children, points the other way. How can you have a drug addicted child and say: "I don't understand, I was such a good parent". You thought you were a good parent, but in fact, you were not. We like to think we're good at things, and we hate to think of ourselves as failures. Some parents think they were great, when they really were utter failures- look at the evidence, not the emotions.

On throwing these children away, I think absolutely not. I think it is society's (and my) job to care for them. But I don't think it is the government's job. I far prefer to support private programs to help people than be forced to fund a government progam to do it.
Jan 28, 2002 9:25 AM
Len, I don't think anyone always listens to their parents. Someone must have recognized this problem thousands of years ago, as it is even written into one of the Commandments.

Here is my question. Let's pretend there is no such thing as income tax and no public assistance for health care or abuse programs at all. How would things be different, then? What would we do differently? First, we would each keep more of our own money. Second, I think we could be more careful. Ever drive just a short way, knowing your auto insurance had expired? We drive darn carefully, then. I think our perspective on life would be more like that if we knew the government was not there to bail us out.

I do sympathize with your situation. I know kids disobey and do stupid things. I did a few myself. I know my parents did not do what they could to teach my brother, sister, and me not to do stupid things, though. They sort of assumed they could yell at us once in a while and expect us just to "be good." Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

BTW, after going through this, where do you stand on legalizing drugs?

Good response.....Len J
Jan 28, 2002 9:58 AM
I realize that I'm not as objective on this particular issue as some.

I also wish that there was more direct personal monetary contributions to this particular issue so we wouldn't need the gov't. But there is not.

On legalizing drugs:

1.) we already legalize one drug, alchahol. we tax it, but instead of putting the money into programs that fund the effects of this drug, it goes into the general fund.

2.) I do believe that the majority of our anti-drug efforts should be a directed at demand not supply. too large a % is spent on smuggling, not enough on education & prevention.

3.) There are some interesting programs around the world, experimenting with legalization that have shown some hope. The Canton of Zurich created a program that legalized heroin & opened clinics to dispense clean needles & free drugs to wean the person of thier addiction. Preliminary results (2 years) suggest that this program has been successful at reducing disease among addicts and increasing the # of recovering addicts. So there is some hope.

4.) I do think that legalization would bring the issues more out in the open. We could have some healthy debate, like we have with tobacco, if the effects were more out in the open.

5.) Legalization would create some of the same economic and sociatal problems that we currently have with tobacco & booze. Once you create such a hugh legal business, how do you dismantle, w/o severe economic effects, as demand wanes. assuming it does.

I gues the simple answer is, I'm not sure, but willing to think about it.

How do you propose to be a "good parent"Spud F
Jan 28, 2002 10:15 AM
Face it. You think you're going to be a perfect parent, but sh*t happens and kids aren't always what you think they will be like. Parenting is damn hard work and kids sometimes just make bad decsions--no matter how good of a job the parents do. The reverse is also true. Some kids can come through the worst childhood you can think of and turn out good. Thank god if your kids come out mostly alright and god help you if they don't. There are no guarantees or magic formulas for raising a "good kid".
"Kids turn out good despite our best efforts!" -anon (NM)Tig
Jan 29, 2002 10:48 AM
by the way...SOME drugs are already legal (nm)Spud F
Jan 28, 2002 10:19 AM
Alcohol probably causes more misery and bad health than all of the illegal drugs combined. Cigarettes (Nicotine) kills many each year. How many deaths has pot caused? Personally if my kid had to use any drug I'd pick pot as it is much safer than alcohol. It's just been demonized so much by the righ wing that people no equate it with heroin, coke and the more dangerous drugs. Where drugs are legal (say Amsterdam) are they any more of a problem than they are here in the US? And I bet their jails are much less crowded with addicts that have to steal to support their habits.
I've become my parents!MB1
Jan 28, 2002 10:12 AM
Same sense of humor that used to embarrass me (last year they took me out to eat in a restaurant that had a sign "kids eat free", naturally they asked for a free meal for me. (I'm 50)).

Same conservative attitudes. Same tastes in food. Same worries about the future. Same hair and face as my dad. I've missed the heart attack before 50 but little else. Oh, and I don't drink or play bridge-make up for it by riding obsessivley.
parents can't be with their kids 24x7 (nm)Spud F
Jan 28, 2002 10:12 AM
I think it's in the definition,netso
Jan 28, 2002 1:28 PM
As far as being a good or bad parent is open to question.
My oldest son, graduated #1 in his College graduating class as an Engineer. He has a good job, good salary. My second son (is ok now), was raised in the same environment, in the same way with different results. I guess you could say we were good/bad parents. If we did not intervene, if he was from a poor family he would have been up the creek without a paddle. Because we were good.bad parents we stuck by him both spiritually and financially. It is people like you that are a problem, you would rather incarcerate him and I assume the "bad" parents. Our jails are full because of drug addiction, lack of treatment that is affordable and of course "bad parents". If Webster defined an Ahole, your picture would be there!
now there's no need for thatDog
Jan 28, 2002 2:51 PM
Can't you participate in an intelligent, mature discussion without name calling? Disagree all you want, that's great, but calling someone an "Ahole" for simply expressing a view different than your own is out of line.

Yeah, netsoscottfree
Jan 28, 2002 3:44 PM
just suck it up and accept this board's rather breezy and untested judgment-- I will not call it stunningly arrogant and self-satisfied -- that you and your wife caused your second son's drug problem. The Board has spoken!

Hey, it may hurt your feelings, but so what? Can't possibly be as bad as you'd feel if someone called you an Ahole. Get a grip, man! Don't be tossing around hurtful words so casually.
cute, but there is a difference nmDog
Jan 28, 2002 3:46 PM
You're right.scottfree
Jan 28, 2002 3:49 PM
It's worse on The Board's side than his. God, the arrogance.
no, you're right.Dog
Jan 28, 2002 3:53 PM
The people here have for the most part participated in sometimes heated discussions intelligently and sincerely, even if at times they disagree 180 degrees. That's to be expected. That's what we want.

Calling someone an "Ahole" is completely different. It's immature, uncivil, and it cheapens the dialogue. Go do that at the MTB forum.

Disagree all you want. Would you prefer a forum in which everyone agrees? That would be pretty boring. The name calling is out of line.

Well, let's see.scottfree
Jan 28, 2002 4:07 PM
Looking back over netso's email, it seems thoughtful, intelligent -- and heartfelt -- to me. Not an MTB board nya-nya-nya outburst of immaturity at all. And given the level of provocation, I think it was pretty civil of him to restrain himself and say "Ahole" instead of "Assole," and use the soft "if there was a picture of ..." formulation instead of just calling him an Ahole outright.

Tell you what though, Doug, and some terrible day you may learn this for yourself (I truly hope not): Being told your child is a drug addict because you were a bad parent is ONE HELL OF A LOT MORE insulting, hurtful, immature and uncivil than being called an Ahole. That you feel obliged to call people down for the latter and not the former says worlds, I think.
I understandDog
Jan 28, 2002 4:27 PM
I think I understand. The problem with these internet discussions is that many people take things that are said in general way and then personalize them. I don't think anyone intended to call anyone a bad parent, or that they were the cause of the drug abuse. I can't speak for anyone, but that's not how I took it.

On the other hand, I think if someone said in response, "you effectively just called me a bad parent, and it was insulting, hurtful, and uncivil." I think that is far more effective than calling someone a name.

I just would prefer that we avoid the name calling, as it can easily and quickly degenerate and bring down the entire forum. It's happened before, and I, regretably, have even participated in it, so I'm particularly sensitive to it.

Thanks for your insight. (is there a "sincere" emoticon?)

In all sincerityscottfree
Jan 28, 2002 4:48 PM
I think aspects of this discussion are actually bike-related, because they distill out a couple things about roadies and bring them into stark relief.

To be a roadie, you just about have to have some money. It's an expensive sport. You also (generalization here, but I don't think many reading this will deny it) are probably pretty self-absorbed. We spend hours of our lives taking our own pulse, literally and metaphorically.

So what happens is, a bunch of self-absorbed people with some money look at social problems and don't want to be bothered. They cry 'self-sufficiency' and walk away. It's none of their concern, and those tax dollars are better contributed through Colorado Cyclist to the Thousand Year Reich of Shimano.

I'm not going to belabor the point. Res ipso loquitor. But whenever I see these airy discussions here, I'm reminded why so many people dismiss us as elitist, arrogant and irrelevant.

Wrong as they may be, eh?
I'll buy part of thatDog
Jan 28, 2002 6:04 PM
I'll buy the self-sufficient part of that. But elitist and arrogant, or irrelevant, I don't. You want to see elitistism and arrogance, go hang around a football team, equestrians, skiers, or many other sports participants (or for that matter, automobile racers, wine tasters, book club members, ad nauseum). No doubt there are some elitists in cycling, and they give others a bad rep, but it's not as pervasive as some might think. Lance made a pretty good showing following 9/11.

Actually, I think this has nothing to do with cycling, at least for me. These are core beliefs I've developed over the years, including in college getting my B.S. in philosophy. My fundamental belief is that everyone should be as self-sufficient as they can be, have the freedom to do as they choose without harming others, and permit others to do the same.

Also, cycling does not need to be expensive. While some make it that way, as I certainly do at times, you can enjoy yourself just fine on a used bike that cost $500 new, or even less. Just ask Humma Ha. It's not as cheap as running, but probably on par with many team sports if you consider the subsidies for equipment and facilities they enjoy.

So, my point is that I don't think you can easily dismiss our points of view as being selfish, shallow, or callous. To the contrary, I believe promoting self-sufficiency for all is the best way to elevate everyone. These are sound, thoughtful philosophical positions, even if you disagree.

scottfree & DougLen J
Jan 28, 2002 6:43 PM

You make some good observations and thern dilute them by making them generalizations. Looking back, I can see how netso could interpret some of the comments as insulting, I think I would given the experiences he shared. That is unfortunate because, knowing the people involved, I don't think that was the intention.

How do you help people who have never experienced these types of events to understand what it does to a family? I have tried by communicating my experiences, some get it, some don't. For me this is an emotional issue, I have passion for it, because I have seen first hand the effects on both loved ones & strangers of the inability to be able to afford adequate care. For others this is only an intellectual discussion. But maybe, just maybe the kind of honest feedback that you have provided will shape someones decisions in the future. I think that that is the best we can expect.


I have read enough of your posts to know that they are sincere, and well thought out, and that you truly do believe in the values that you profess. There is alot to be said for being self-sufficient and taking responsibility for your own choices. I certainly try to live that way. However, I think, no I believe, that we are all interdependant, that what helps one helps us all, that we see ourselves reflected in the faces of those who most need help. I hope & pray that you never need such help, and I also pray that should you need it, that it is there for you.

In one of your earlier posts to this message, you indicated that the problem was that if you got the issue down to the individual, it is impossible to come up with a solution, since each individual problem had merit. (I apoligize for para-phrasding, but it's late). I would argue the opposite, that dealing with tough issues, real issues, are about the individual people involved & the individual problems. We keep trying to solve problems by reducing them to statistics & trends & exceptions. While this helps us see the landscape, it is only in looking at the individual blades of grass that we see the real complexity & the real possibilities. It is also the only place that one can find the passion that is necessary to tough through the complexity & find the possibilities. Instead of being paralyzed by why things won't work, we can be passionate about why they will. These problems are large & they are about real people & they will be solved one person at a time. We all must get our hands dirty.

Sorry if I sound like I'm on a soapbox. I'll get down now.

scottfree & Dougnetso
Jan 29, 2002 3:58 AM
Mea Culpa, I apologize. It is still a highly emotional issue with me. He most likely would have sunk without our help. Thanks to the powers that be, that he appears to be making a good recovery. Again, I am sorry!
man you've got some nerveSpud F
Jan 28, 2002 10:11 AM
People get addicted to stuff for all kinds of reasons. I doubt that sending someone to a prison to dry out is the best method for coming off full-blown heroin or alcohol addiction. In fact it could kill them. Plus prison is probably more expensive than rehab would be--a fact that is often overlooked. Bottom line is you can't always blame the parents for how a kid turns out. My guess is you don't have kids. You still didn't address why we need to spend so much on the military by the way. Talk about a red herring. Any studies to back up how the Army "rehabs" bad kids? Is that by sending them to the front lines to die?
Children of good parents don't need rehab? Not always...Tig
Jan 29, 2002 10:43 AM
How I wish that were an absolute truth, but sadly it isn't. It should be that simple, but it isn't in reality.

Look at families you grew up with that had several kids. Some had what we call good parents, some bad. The differences between the kids could be widely varied. Did all the children of the good parents turn out the same? Did one kid he family end up dropping out and end up in jail/dead/living on the street? Same question goes towards the bad parent's kids. I've seen some nasty parenting where at least some of the kids somehow come out of it and become better people than those that raised them. There is a certain amount of individual trait and personality a person is born with that can overcome the influences of environment.

I've seen it happen again and again in all kinds of families, regardless of what the parent(s) were like, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds or their class. Yes, the parents are a HUGE factor in how a kid develops attitude and values, but some will still end up making bad choices that put them in a world of living hell.

Do bad parents create bad kids? Yes, but not always. Do good parents create good kids? Yes, but not always. I believe that positive changes in couture are rooted in the home. Unfortunately, there is a world full of negative influences that our kids will face during weak and critical phases where they just want to be accepted and fit in.

"There's no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one." -Jill Churchill
Jesus Christ, Doug, what about compassion?cory
Jan 28, 2002 8:32 AM
I'm pondering whether it's worth debating this, and I know it's not, but I can't help myself...

I absolutely agree with you about individual responsibility--even as a tax-and-spend Democrat, I have a lot of trouble finding a reason the goverment should pay for rehab programs.

On the other hand, I have two nearly grown kids (both honors students, one on an adademic scholarship, neither using drugs), and I've seen through their friends how easily even "good" kids can be attracted to drugs. Addiction isn't a choice they make, except at the most basic level--kids don't say, "Hey, I think I'll go get hooked on crack" any more than successful members of the bar decide to get hooked on tobacco or drink their careers away. And when you cite education as a way to prevent drug abuse, you can't ignore the huge cuts in funding, from Head Start to college to drug/smoking/alcohol programs, that have resulted from the hysterical anti-tax mood of the electorate and (generally) the Republican party. It was obvious 20 years ago that we'd eventually have to pay for that, and now the bills are coming due.
But I do agree about individual responsibility.
somewhere along the way things changedDog
Jan 28, 2002 8:53 AM
There was once a day when the people did not automatically accept that the government could take a big chunk of your income and give it to other people (in effect). For some reason, many people now accept just the opposite view, almost as if they believe the government is entitled to ALL of your income, and only by the grace of the government does it decide what you can keep.

Let's simplfy for example. Let's say there are only 2 people in the country, plus a government of some sort, disconnected from the 2 people. One person works hard and makes money. The other does not work. The one who does not work (or does not provide for all his "needs" by himself) tells the government, "go take some of his money and give it to me." The goverment does this. That is essentially what we do. People believe that they are entitled to something from others.

Our system has not much to do with compassion, it has everything to do with the feeling of entitlement to something from others, and officials being elected by those wanting the something from others.

Compassion has it's place. I feel compassion for those who cannot help themselves, not for those who will not. The line between the two concepts has been almost completely erased, though.

I meant education beginning at home. Again, do we have to rely upon the government for this? Tell your kids, "do not take drugs, do not hang around others who take drugs," and then tell them what will happen if they do. Sure, some still will. I'm not sure we are doing everything we can at home to avoid it, though.

I certainly agree that there are some things we should do as a society to assist those who cannot help themselves. I just think that for political gain many politicians have expanded that concept far beyond where it should be.

Dog is going to be a parent. Can't wait to hear how it goes! nmMB1
Jan 28, 2002 9:17 AM
I'm terrifiedDog
Jan 28, 2002 9:34 AM
I'm scared I'll screw it up, just like I imagine most parents are. No doubt I will screw some things up. I suppose you do your best and see what happens.

no kidding. he's in for a rude awakeningFred Temarles
Jan 28, 2002 10:23 AM
As soon as his lofty ideals can't be acheived and he realizes that it's not so easy as all his rhetoric sugggests he's gonna be eating some of those words.
I agree that there is an entitlement mentality....Len J
Jan 28, 2002 9:22 AM
that pervades this country. It drives me nuts also. However, the intention behind my original post was to explore those areas where maybe we should be more compassionate. I wish I had a workable solution, but I don't. Relying on charities has not worked, unfortunatly not enough people donate enough to make it effective. Studies have shown a direct correlation between Government spending & Addiction recovery. Is it effectient, probably not, is it effective, yes.

I would hope that just because some politicians have expanded compassionate concepts beyond what they should, should not preclude us from doing what is right.

I agree that there is an entitlement mentality....Dog
Jan 28, 2002 9:40 AM
Len, I think this is the problem. While in many individual cases we can probably make a pretty darn good argument that spending helps there. Yours is a good example. Plus, those people who know you and would like to see your family helped would also likely agree with you.

The problem is that everyone sees their particular set of circumstances as an important, worthy cause. We could cite examples all day long. If we really tried to satisfy each one, our taxes would probably be 110%. Even with the best of intentions and compassion, we can only afford so much before we start killing the goose.

This is a very difficult issue, even more so on a personal scale. I wish you the best in dealing with it, and hope I'm never there.

Thanks....Len J
Jan 28, 2002 2:33 PM
I agree that everyone has thier own "Special interest". I'm just lobbying for mine :). This is really about choice & priorities. I am starting from the (debatable) assumption that we can afford the current U.S. Budget, of which this $397 billion is a part. I am not suggesting that we raise it one bit (to your 110% argument). Rather I am suggesting that you pay for some social programs by reducing defense from 8.25 times what everyone else is spending to a paltry 5 or 6 times (which BTW would still be over $250 billion).

I also hope you never have to experience this issue. I really do.

somewhere along the way things changedgtx
Jan 28, 2002 10:29 AM
You can't simplify like that, Doug, when you have some people making $7 an hour ($14k a year) and some people making $70 an hour ($140k a year). Both people are working. A family can't be supported on $14k a year--and if both parents work, then it's still only $28k a year, and no one is home for the kids. So the kids are either alone at home or in some crummy daycare system. How's that for a childhood? Is it any wonder that many children in poor families end up getting involved in drugs and crime? So the person making $7 an hour shouldn't have kids because we have a system that allows for a huge difference in earning power between individuals, but doesn't do anything to help those at the lower end, who do work hard but still can't afford to pay for some of the most basic necessities?
Jan 28, 2002 11:03 AM
When I was a kid, my dad was a high school teacher and coach and my mother stayed home, except for a few odd years. I think he was earning about $6000 a year in the '60's. I'm sure that was much better than minimum wage, though. We did not have any luxuries, but did not want for basic things, either.

I think your argument implies that the $7 an hour worker has no choice, that he is locked into that wage forever through no fault of his own. That's usually not true, though. While younger workers may not be able to get higher paying jobs, I'd hope that most people would do something to better themselves so that they can make a higher wage. Heck, when I was a contractor we paid carpenters $30-40 (on private jobs) an hour and even clean up people $12 an hour. Every one of the clean up people had the abilty to be the carpenter, too.

It's a harsh reality, but maybe some people should not have kids if they cannot afford them. Problem is, in many ways the government encourages this with the good intentions of looking out for the children. It's a difficult issue, that is, how can we help to take care of existing needy children without encouraging the births of more children who cannot be cared for? I don't really know.

Many people have their priorities screwed up, as I noted above. Single mothers spend money on crack and cell phones. $7 an hour workers expect satellite TV and DVD players, but someone else to pay for their health care. If it were up to me, I'd not pay $300 or more a month for health insurance, either, and use the money for bicycling.

Jan 28, 2002 11:35 AM
In the 60s $6000 would buy two pretty nice muscle cars, so I'd say that would be the equivalent of about $50k today--and you have to figure that today housing expenses are more proportionately than they used to be. My friend who teaches high school makes $40k--he's been doing it for eight years. I think if you work for Merry Maids you get about $6 and Walmart pays about $7. People who work for Merry Maids or Walmart might not always be management material, or whatever, and so their chances for advancement may be slim--through no real fault of their own. It takes money and initiative to start your own business, and many people lack one or the other. You can't really find those nice, secure, decent paying union manufacturing jobs in this country anymore, and so a lot of people really are locked into these low pay, low status service sector jobs. I totally agree that would a lot of people consider to be "necessities""--cell phones, cable, even cars--aren't, really. Still, it's pretty tough out there for a lot of people, and I don't think it had much to do with "choice."
Yep andscottfree
Jan 28, 2002 2:13 PM
don't you just HATE it when the black woman in front of you in line at the grocery pays for T-bone steak with food stamps, then drives off in a big Cadillac? I mean, really.
Yep andLOL
Jan 28, 2002 3:51 PM
They are too wrapped up in their delusions to have gotten that. Good one!!!!!!
Yep andscottfree
Jan 28, 2002 4:17 PM
As a Southerner, I know Crackerspeak when I hear it. No matter how dressed up it is.
What about families of 9/11 victims?hms
Jan 28, 2002 11:08 AM
I have been amused/outraged by the claims of imminent financial doom by some of the families of 9/11 victims (For example, one widow was seeking assistance with her $4,000+ mortgage payment). There are many people who do not have the resources or sense to provide for the vicissitudes of life. However, many, if not most, of the victims were people who should have provided for their financial obligations in the event sudden demise (for example, with insurance or other financial planning). I am not saying that the victims' families should not receive some compensation. But, the attitude that the government or someone else should provide for a person, rather than the person's providing for himself or herself, appears to pervade all ecomonic and social levels.
you mean this?Dog
Jan 28, 2002 11:18 AM
you got the picture-nmhms
Jan 28, 2002 11:26 AM
what happened to individual responsibility?BikingViking
Jan 28, 2002 8:27 AM
That's the whole point, you would not have to get you money's worth if your taxes were LOWER! I am truly sorry for your son's plight, but why do people expect the government to take care(pay for) problems that were caused by someone being irresponsible enough to take drugs.

Secondly, the Federal Government wastes money by the billions. Let's ask the Department of Education where the $450 million of OUR MONEY they lost. That is only the tipof the "waste" iceberg. My point is that a "national" health care system is a HUGE bureaucracy and would dwarf any waste we currently have in government. I am not happy on what the Government spends MY money on now, much less if they are wasting it by the millions in this new "national healthcare system".

People need to be responsible for themselves, and not rely on a government handout, which comes out of the taxpayer's pocket.
As usual, I'm with you...TJeanloz
Jan 28, 2002 7:55 AM
We hear a lot about how rotten American health care is, and how expensive it is. Well, my grandfather is currently in the hospital in France, he needs an operation, and the doctors are on STRIKE. That's some system they got over there. Something to really look up to...

Seriously, I feel badly for those who have kids who need to be rehabbed, or who have real medical problems. But why should the government (ie the rest of the taxpayers) pay for your kid's problems. I'm not opposed to society helping with these problems. I think it is entirely the place of the church and other private charities to help with health care and drug issues- but I don't see why it should be in the government's realm.

As for the prescription drug issue. Drugs are expensive. They help people live longer. This is going to sound callous, but why do people need to live longer? If I'm spending $250 a month on medication, I think I'd just as soon end the misery and go straight to hell (which is where I will probably end up for thinking things like this). But Americans are so hung up on embalming themselves while they're still alive- just die already.

Why should the government take care of us? I'm a big boy, I can take care of myself, and my family for that matter...
Look againTony
Jan 28, 2002 8:15 AM
The French healthcare system is just about the best in the world, and envied by an enormus number of nations. It is quite simply, little short of excellent. Yeah they are on strike at the moment - but over what? Maintaining their standards. It's a very very rare event, and driven by the motive of looking after the system.

I would take a deeper look at the French system (from top to bottom - GP to major surgery to long-term terminal care) before you decide.

BTW, I think most economists would agree that you can't take care of yourself - it's too expensive. You can't fund a national heathcare system from private funding (insurance etc), it's just too cripplingly expensive for all concerned. The nation state has to have a role in funding.

As for why people want to live longer. That really doesn't deserve an answer.

BTW. I am not French.
I looked, "Higher standards?"...TJeanloz
Jan 28, 2002 8:29 AM
Every news report I've seen reports that the doctors want "higher pay"- not higher standards:

"French doctors are vowing to continue a strike that has shut medical offices around the country for four days.

They claim negotiations with the government failed to meet their demands for higher pay."

Read the news before you report it...
All I can say..Tony
Jan 28, 2002 9:29 AM
is if that is what you are describing as "news", and using that to inform your opinion, then good luck.

Think to ask yourself why they are trying to narrow the gap there?
See here.Tony
Jan 28, 2002 9:33 AM
World's 'best' health service in chaos as doctors strike
By Harry de Quetteville in Paris
(Filed: 24/01/2002)

THE frailties of the French health service, vaunted as the best in the world, were vividly exposed yesterday as tens of thousands of doctors went on strike.

The action labelled "the day without the Doc" came as nine Britons were being treated at a hospital in Lille in a programme to cut NHS waiting lists.

Though their private clinic was not affected, they would have found the television news pictures of widespread healthcare paralysis eerily familiar.

For most French people, however, scenes of patients lying untreated in hospital corridors, and of chaotic and overstretched emergency wards came as a shock.

About three-quarters of GPs and specialists including dentists closed their surgeries in protest at the low cost of consultations - currently set at about £11. They want an increase to about £13. Ambulance men and surgeons also stopped work.

Their action followed a walkout by hospital workers on Monday, who complained that the government's policy of shortening the working week to 35 hours had stretched the health service.

Unions warn that the country's health system, rated the best on the planet by the World Health Organisation, is in a deep malaise.

Patients now adopt a wholly consumerist attitude to health, visiting the doctors they want as often as they like and being prescribed far more drugs than any other EU country. Last year the national passion for prescriptions cost France £6 billion, a rise of almost 10 per cent on 2000.

But funding has not matched demand, and spending restrictions are certain to remain in force to the foreseeable future.
I'm seeing,TJeanloz
Jan 28, 2002 9:43 AM
Doctors and hospital workers who are pissed off because they're not being paid enough. I don't see where it says that care is being seriously impeded because they aren't being paid enough.

The paragraph:
"Patients now adopt a wholly consumerist attitude to health, visiting the doctors they want as often as they like and being prescribed far more drugs than any other EU country. Last year the national passion for prescriptions cost France £6 billion, a rise of almost 10 per cent on 2000."
is telling though- is this the result of such a wonderful system?

And note that the Unions are the only people complaining about the situation. The system is rated the best in the world by the WHO, and the unions are giving these dire predictions? I could see an issue if they suddenly slipped out of the top ten, but while they're still at #1 they're going to convince you that they need more money to do a good job? The doctors are holding the health care system for ransom.
See here.Troyboy
Jan 28, 2002 9:55 AM
Perhaps, and arguably so, it is one of the best healthcare systems in the world. This is probably from a provider side perspective. That system also comes at huge cost to the general public. My guess is you haven't lived in France. I haven't either but I have lots of family over there, French nationals and American nationals. The young ones all move here, quadruple their income, buy homes and cars they could never have there, live in larger than 150 square foot apartments (in Paris), etc., etc. They are actually paid what they're worth here. They get taxed through the roof and due the socialized system over there, pay is so very low because most companies have their hands tied largely with the government in the tax perspective as well.

I am a free market economist that believes wholeheartedly that a government's job is not to create a utopia and alleviate every person's problems. It is rather to set up something of a safe structure for it's inhabitants. Inefficiency and waste breeds in the hands of government. The market forces of privatization and cost/competition is the only way to fair pricing and efficiency.
I don't understand...TJeanloz
Jan 28, 2002 9:37 AM
I missed the point of your post- I gave a link to the news story that reports that the doctors are striking for higher pay. I haven't seen anything that says that higher pay will lead to better care- and, according to you, they already have the best system in the world, why would they need more money?

Yes, generally I describe news reports as "news". And I use those reports to form my opinion.
It's simpleTony
Jan 28, 2002 9:45 AM
If you don't pay people in the public sector a wage that compares closely enough to the private sector, then the quality of the public sector nose-dives and you hemmorage people who can afford to stay on the bais of other motives no longer. Look at the UK National Health System. That, for the large part, is what they are about. Public-sector doctors/health care professionals are not militant money grabbing, strike-at-the-drop-of-a-hat self-serving folk - they value health care and the wide, high-quality, provison of it.

Log into some French papers and read about it - "Novanews" doesn't really sum up the whole issue in it's handful of tabloid paragraphs, oddly enough...
Read on...Tony
Jan 28, 2002 9:49 AM
France: 'We pay high tax, but get a reliable health care system'
By Harry de Quetteville
(Filed: 16/01/2002)

Income: £40,000

Income tax: £3,500

National insurance: £8,000

Holidays: at least once a year

House: two-bed flat with mortgage

Car: yes

Dine out: once a week

Private health insurance: £200 a year

NADINE COURBET lives in Paris with her husband, Jean-Jacques, and children Hugo, five, and 11-month-old Manon.

The couple, both 33, recently bought their two-bedroom flat, near the Gare Montparnasse, when low borrowing rates made mortgage repayments cheaper than renting.

Nadine gave up her job helping handicapped children after Manon was born, but plans to return to work in the future. Jean-Jacques is an IT consultant and the household income is about £40,000 a year.

"The French health service is very simple," Nadine explains. "It's easy to get whatever treatment is necessary. At a basic level, I can choose my GP [known in France as a generaliste] and my children's doctor.

"On top of that, it's perfectly possible to tailor healthcare as one sees fit, say between traditional medicine and other treatments, such as homoeopathy and acupuncture."

In France, up to 70 per cent of the cost of all treatment is covered by French social security [Securite Sociale, or Secu], with the rest paid directly by the patient.

Secu itself is funded by national insurance payments amounting to about 20 per cent of any worker's salary, deducted at source.

That sizeable deduction means that income tax payments - especially for a married couple with children - can be comparatively small.

But Secu may not pay much towards some therapies so, like almost everybody in France, the Courbets have private health insurance [called a mutuelle] to cover the difference.

"We have chosen to have traditional medical coverage plus the occasional consultation with a homoeopath, to which the state does not contribute much," says Nadine. "But our mutuelle covers that, so we pay nothing for both forms of care."

That explains why almost every family in France has a mutuelle. Some are obliged to by their employers.

"A mutuelle is an absolute must," says Nadine, "because there are some black holes - such as visits to opticians and dentists - which social security hardly covers at all."

On a pair of glasses costing £195 the state typically reimburses only £7.30. A mutuelle covers the rest, but will fix limits, such as one pair of glasses a year.

"A visit to the paediatrician with one of the children costs about £30," says Nadine, "and the state covers only £11, so if we didn't have private insurance each visit would cost us about £20."

But France's social security is unbeatable when it comes to surgery and hospital stays, which are covered almost totally by Secu.

When Nadine went into hospital to have Hugo, she paid nothing but an optional surcharge of £97 to guarantee a private room. "And even that was covered by our mutuelle," she says.

Such dependence on private health insurance in France has created a huge market for mutuelles. For young people in good health they are often reasonably priced and tariffs may be reduced further as companies invest in group plans for their staff.

"We have a mutuelle from Jean-Jacques' firm," says Nadine. "On top of that, it costs us about £195 a year, which is deducted from his salary."

The dual state/private financing has resulted in a flexible system where waiting lists are virtually unknown.

Though some critics argue that the social security system is inefficient, most French people are happy to subsidise it with hefty national insurance contributions.

"It's true that we pay a lot of deductions, but we get a reliable health system in return," says Nadine.

No waiting, no paying

Nadine's son, Hugo, fell ill with a high fever early in December. As it was late at night and Hugo's regular doctor was not available, Nadine called the ambulance service, SOS Medecins.

The Courbets paid £32 for the call-out and the SOS doctor's consultation fee.

Hugo was referred back to his usual doctor early the following week, who carried out blood tests as the boy's temperature had still not fallen. The consultation cost a further £32 and the tests were £41.

The problem was finally resolved after a visit to a specialist clinic, where a consultant carried out a thyroid echograph (a throat scan) at a cost of £70.

All the appointments were carried out without delay, and Hugo's four days off school cost a total of about £170.

The Courbets paid the total cost up front. But two weeks after sending their simple paperwork to a local social security centre, they received most of the money back.

Secu then automatically forwarded the paperwork to the Courbets' insurers, who refunded the rest of the money a week later.
I could see that argument,TJeanloz
Jan 28, 2002 9:51 AM
That would be a fair assessment if there was some data that showed how French public health was getting worse. Unfortunately, they remain the best healthcare system in the world. I'm not seeing that there's a huge problem there.

There would be a problem (as there is in Australia) where the private sector provides good medical care, and the public sector provides poor medical care. But in France, the public system is excellent, and more money isn't going to make it more excellent.
Other way round...Tony
Jan 28, 2002 10:03 AM
They are trying to keep it excellent, and not letting it develop into a case of "too little too late" (again, c.f. the UK system). There are cracks appearing in the system, and they are trying to mend them before the who ediface begins to crumble.

Perhaps you have to understand what an institution and matter of public pride the system is in France to understand how passionate those in it are about the issue - it's not about salary cheques in themselves, it's about moving forward.
Just a note on healthcare dollarsPaulCL
Jan 28, 2002 8:45 AM
Confirming the "out of whack" spending of healthcare dollars: over 90% of this nations healthcare money (Drs,drugs,hosp, ER, etc) are spent in the last 30 days of life. It is a fundamental flaw of the system. We (meaning our healthcare system) are reactive not responsive. We react to the disease instead of preventing the illness in the first place.

Think of how much money would be saved if just 10% more of the combined national healthcare budget (private and public) went to preventative medicine and maintenance medicine. The problem of uninsured or underinsured citizens would be eliminated.

When my 90 year old grandmother was hit by a car, we all knew that it was a matter of days, maybe a week. But the hospital - out of our concerns, our hope for a miracle, the need not to get sued, maintaining the 'standard of care' - spent over $150,000 to keep her alive for an extra 5 days. Even at the time, I knew the money could be spent better elsewhere. My grandmother, as a hardcore Democrat, would have happily had that $$ spent on underpriveledged or un-insured families.

Just my thoughts.
This is the rub isn't it.......Len J
Jan 28, 2002 7:56 AM
Role of Government vs role of individuals.

Let me address some of your response:

"This is unfortunate. But, would many of them have health care if at least one of their married parents took a job providing insurance? I think much of the cause is the outrageous rate of unmarried people having children, which provides a less than optimal family situation. There is little sense of responsibility of unwed fathers."

You may be correct about the cause (different debate)however should we damn the children because of the acts of the parents? I don't know about you, but I think one of the things that makes this country great is it's compassion. Taking the position that because the children are the result of irresponsible acts & therefor don't deserve basic health care doesn't seem to be in the spirit of this compassion.

"All I'm saying is that your numbers have an emotional appeal, but may not really say what is implied."

I would agree specifically however the point I was trying (and failing) to make, was that there are a large # of senior citizens who spend a disproportianate % of thier income on prescription drugs, leaving them very little to live on. Yes they should have not relied on SS/ however some were unable to get anything else.

"If we reduce military spending, I fear that we would have more 911's or worse. The number one function of the federal government is defense. I'd prefer that that be the nearly only function, and everything else be handled locally. "

I would agree if & only if we don't spend our military budget judiciously. Why can other countries get away with spending, not just a little less, but significantly less (More than 8 times less)? I would suggest that it is because they set priorities within thier spending. As opposed to the U.S. Military that must spend on everything, they choose between domestic security & world security. We spend as if there is a comporable enemy in the world, the truth is there isn't. How useful is the majority of what we spend on preventing another 9/11....I would contend very little (as eveidenced by the act itself).

"As far as priorities, let's look at them on an individual basis. I see families going without health car, but they have 3 VCR's, cell phones, 2 cars, satellite television, and Nike Air Jordan shoes. They have children without the means to provide for them. They have children out of wedlock. They run up credit card debt and then declare bankruptcy. No, this is not in reference to anyone or any group in particular, but an amalgram of many people. Where are their priorities? "

I am not going to pretend that abuses don't occur, however I also don't pretend that there are not significant #'s of people that, because of injury/health/circimstances don't have adequate access to basic human services. I would rather waste a little bit of money spent on abusers in order to ensure that those that are truly needy (Which I believe is the majority). You obviously believe that the majority of needy people are abusers (from your post). My experience (specifically with drug & alch. rehab work) is just the opposite.

Just an additional observation. While I abhor the loss of life in the 9/11 tragedy, more people die in this country annually as a result of inadequate health & human services care than died in the WTC event. However we accept this as OK. Again I believe that common decency and morality suggests that spending this level of monsy on the military with this happening at home is wrong.

I am not suggesting that we have no military. I just don't think we need one that is 8 times the size of the next biggest in the world.

My .02

"Promote the general welfare and...Brooks
Jan 28, 2002 2:04 PM
provide for the common defense"

I read that somewhere.

I love the way the right-wing conservatives seem to think that massive welfare fraud is going on and always cite those with cell phones, DVDs etc as examples. Does it happen? Sure, but not nearly to the extent they would have you believe. There are far more hard-working people who cannot afford the basics in food, shelter, and healthcare. I have no children but am perfectly content to have my tax dollars pay for education (it's the greatest thing a society can do, IMHO). To dig up a phrase from the 60's, the military industrial complex is a huge lobby that throws millions of dollars at Congress. I for one, would like to see the cost of the military pared down.

coming in late butMJ
Jan 29, 2002 6:01 AM
you clearly have an inability to think about the issues and problems that others face in a realistic manner - you are breath takingly arrogant in your decriptions and ignorance about how and why people end up facing the difficulties and problems they do

not everyone enjoys the wealth of opportunities which clearly you had and continue to have

continue to maintain an outdated world viewpoint ( apparently based upon WW2 for some odd reason) shared by the old school cold war Republicans - the new sherriiff in town should be the guy who's going to give you clean drinking water not drop bombs on you - you just can't ignore the rest of the world and expect for them toi leave you alone when the US has so much - how much would a policy of engagement and development in Afghanistan cost vs how many (US) lives lost and money wasted bombing an illiterate third world country - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

it's hard to be self-sufficient on minimum wage - and most minimum wage jobs don't offer insurance for the family - it's also hard to have a retirement plan on minimum wage

you may have worked hard - but you fail to appreciate that lots of people work hard and don't end up with a great life and remuneration - you have opportunities that others will never have

is an exorbitant defence budget going to address poverty or health care in the richest nation on Earth? shouldn't it?

in any event who exactly is going to attack with a traditional military approach? put all your faith in technology and Star Wars, keep ignoring global trouble spots and see if something like September 11 doesn't happen again - ignorant

so continue existence in your sheltered white conservative middle class world where you go to church and work and socialise with a bunch of people just like you - continue believing the lie that people are poor because they are lazy or because they (or in this case their parents!!) have a moral flaw or fundamental failing - forgo compassion for those less fortunate - feel smug in your good life and 'hard work' - that's certainly the best way to address difficult issues in the most humanitarian and christian manner available to you

keep holding up the founding fathers as something to aspire to rather than the rich white slave owners that didn't want to pay tax that they were

keep getting upset with someone after them calling you an arsehole when you've said that drug abuse is the result of a poor parenting (presumably on the basis of all your knowledge on the subject)
re: Priorities!Markb
Jan 28, 2002 7:50 AM
Federal government number 1 priority should be defense, not social spending. I'm sorry that people have drug and other related problems, but you know, people make a conscious decision to use or not use drugs, etc.

In my opinion, things went to hell in this country when we eliminated personal responsibility for one's own actions. We are quick to blame "social problems" rather than blame individuals for for their actions.
re: Priorities!netso
Jan 28, 2002 8:20 AM
For all the money we spend on Defense, it did not stop 9/11.
When an individual like Osama Bin Laden can cause as much destruction as he did with a limited budget, why do we need such great expenditure. Does it help us? Has it stopped terrorism?
Founding Father says it allBikingViking
Jan 28, 2002 11:19 AM
"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." - James Madison
Wow! I would have thought James Madisonscottfree
Jan 28, 2002 4:25 PM
would have read Section 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the commom Defence and general Welfare of the United States.
You guys are great.Len J
Jan 28, 2002 1:59 PM
Here we have gone back & forth on an issue of real merit where no one turned it into a flame war. With the exception of me.

To TJeanloz , I want to apalogize for the condescending way that I responded to what was clearly an attempt on your part to illuminate the part a parent takes in a child's addiction. This is (obviously) a very important issue for me personally, and (in hindsight) I assumed that you were putting all of the blame on the parents. Unfortunatly, having been involved heavily in Rehab as well as Addiction issues for the last 15 years, one of the main reasons that I think this area gets so little funding, is because the general (unstated) base belief , in the U.S. is that this only happens to other people (who are somehow responsible for it). So I assumed that you were taking this position & reacted accordingly. If it felt personal to you I am very sorry. I hope you accept my apology.

To everyone else, thanks for the exchange.


P.S. We still haven't debated wether we should spend this much money on defense!
Societal PrioritiesJon Billheimer
Jan 28, 2002 9:18 PM
I've followed this thread with some interest. It seems to me that the central issue is not some ethical or romantic nostalgia about individual responsibility, but about priorities in a wealthy society over how to spend that surplus wealth. It is this point that I think conservatives, such as the esteemed Doug Sloan, seem to overlook. And I think a very legitimate concern is expressed over the unimaginably astronomical amounts of taxpayer revenue the government of the United States chooses to spend on defense, while the needs of some of its citizens are rather blithely overlooked, supposedly in the service of a philosophy of individualism which has not effectively prevailed in America for well over 100 years. Granted that the U.S.--and other countries--must defend themselves. But how much of the budgetary appropriations are wildly inflated sums being spent with not a whole lot of regard to their effectiveness in deterring real vs. imagined threats? My personal bias is that American defense spending exceeds the legitimate means to simply "defend". These felt needs and priorities are in fact more driven by values and outlooks than needs and necessities.

The obsessive concern that conservatives seem to have over "social spending" in my opinion is driven by an attitude of judgementalism toward everyone but themselves. From a Canadian perspective, I think the structure and funding of medical services in the U.S. is appalling, especially considering what an unimaginably wealthy society America is. Lest anyone think this is an anti-American rant, it definitely is not. I love, admire, and deeply respect America. But I also think, awash in its formidable wealth and unprecedented prosperity, America loses sight of some "non-economic" but humanly viable priorities...and here you all thought I was a rock-ribbed conservative!:-)
12 Step is FREE!Crankist
Jan 29, 2002 4:36 AM
What has been entirely overlooked here is that recovery from addiction doesn't have to cost a dime.
I am a recovered alcoholic, sober nearly 12 yrs., and no AA meeting ever charged me a cent. Nor would
Narcotics Anonymous or any other 12-step program, which are, not incidentally, THE most effective
recovery programs extant. I admit that I went thru a treatment center first (I paid). I also would not change a thing of my recovery, but that doesn't change the fact that MILLIONS have recovered w/o treatment centers.
Looking back I find that the treatment center was probably a hindrance to my recovery - many inconsistancies and mixed messages too detailed to chronicle here. Finally, why would anyone NECESSARILY blame the parents?
I don't blame mine. TJean, you can't say that people have to be responsible for themselves and then blame the parents!
I have much respect for your bicycling posts, but you're WAY out of line on this matter.
And now it's my turn...ashleyrenfroe
Jan 29, 2002 8:40 AM
Well, I have not been wanting to touch this topic, because basically everyone has said everything that needs to be said. And everyone is right/wrong, all at once.

But there is a side of me, though I am moderately conservative, that believes this country to not be as "charitable" as some other poster had noted. And I know that if it were not for Social Security, then there are many people who would go without financial support and care, due to the fact that they are not deemed as "worthy". This nation was founded by acceptance, not by being exclusive, as many of the people posting here may have been accustomed to as youth.

My more conservative friends all feel that they should be allowed to take home their portion of the SS contribution and invest/save the way they choose. I see this as a contradiction to the spirit of this nation they say they exemplify. It is more "greed", to use a dirty word that most posters have avoided here.

I am not going to devulge into "human nature" as we are all adults and should be aware that human nature drives most decisions in the world. I guess that is all I wanted to say, as adding any more would just be re-stating the obvious and redundant.
Gotta disagreemr_spin
Jan 29, 2002 9:45 AM
Allowing a portion of the SS contribution to be invested any way we choose goes against the spirit of this nation? I'm sorry, but that is a real stretch. Also, trying to maximize your retirement savings isn't greed, unless you are doing it unfairly and at someone else's expense. Plus, the more you save now, the less impact you will have on the social security system later. No, it isn't greed.

That said, I am totally against allowing ordinary people to invest any part of their social security contributions, but not because it in any violates the spirit of this nation. I don't want it done because I think people are generally stupid with money, and in the end, all their losses will be covered by you and I, the taxpayers.

What happens when Joe Fool invests his retirement funds in Enron, or collectible plates and dolls from the Franklin Mint? After it all disappears, he is immediately going to stick out his hand and say: "I have nothing. You must help me." Where do you think the money is going to come from? As a compassionate and charitable nation, we can't let people go homeless and hungry because they made bad investment choices, right? He ain't heavy, he's my brother, right?

The answer is supposed to be yes. But I'd rather avoid the whole situation. If we don't allow idiots to lose their money, we don't have to cover their losses. Sure, some people who know how to invest will lose a little, but they are probably already into IRA, 401(k), and annuity plans.

I can equate this to deregulation of power in California. We were sold a bill of goods that looked good on paper, and then it all went to hell. Who got stuck in the end? The answer may surprise you. It wasn't just everyone in California--It was almost everyone west of the Rockies, since out of state suppliers (like Enron, boo hoo) jacked up their prices.
12 Step is FREE!TJeanloz
Jan 30, 2002 11:04 AM
I don't blame parents exclusively for their children's problems, but to pretend that the parents did everything perfectly only to have their child become addicted seems naive. I don't blame my parents for the choices (good and bad) that I make- but one has to acknowledge that your upbringing influences every single decision that you make.

I don't think it's the parent's FAULT when a child becomes an addict (rapist, murderer, etc..) because certainly they did not intend that result. It must really crush parents of children who shoot up schools- it would surely crush me- but to say: "I was a great parent despite the end result" seems naive. To think that all of the influence that parents exert on their children is good, seems a little ridiculous.
12 Step is FREE!netso
Jan 30, 2002 11:27 AM
I think that Grandparents are better parents than parents. You no longer are striving to succeed, to make money etc. You also know some of the mistakes you have made with your own. However, more importantly is the time you as a grandparent provide. It is quality, unhurried time.
When I was young I wanted to get a Ph.D., wanted to make money, wanted and wanted. Even though I provided well for my children, I did not give them my time. I regret this!
I consider myself a failure as a parent. However, I am now able to provide time for my grown children, and I am a great
12 Step is FREE!Crankist
Jan 30, 2002 11:47 AM
OK, you need some backround info. Addiction does not result from excessive use. Addiction
can and regularly does occur quite quickly, whereby the user will seem OK, except for occasionally
overdoing it - and of course progesses - sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. My point here is that
by the time the user is overdoing it he is addicted. Those not inclined toward addiction will never be -
REGARDLESS of the amount or frequency used. Those who are inclined can become addicted after a very short time or VERY little usage, as in the case of Betty Ford. So, the bottom line here is that parents
are definately to "blame", but only in the genetic sense. Terrific, even perfect parents can have a kid
addicted after "experimenting" with a drink after he turns 18. That said, crappy parenting can lead a kid
to drugs quicker IMO - and if that kid is predisposed to addiction, then these things happen younger, with
probably more potent problems.
You are correct in that this is never a "fault" issue. NOBODY starts out with dditction as an objective. We all know that there is a chance it could happen, but we NEVER think it will happen to us. And many, through
their lives never admit it. But when they do, I agree that it may not be the responsibilty of avg. Joe to finance
the recovery; this is the responsibilty of the user - and as I stated earler - need not cost a dime.
Well put...Len J
Jan 30, 2002 12:05 PM
and yes 12 steps is free.

Unfortunatly, we needed an intervention in my Brother's case. He also need to dry-out, and begin his recovery in an environment that included and was based on 12 step programs, but was more intense. He has told me that he had tried voluntary 12 step meetings but he needed more intense structure to offset his own tendancy for self destruction. He needed it until his sense of self was built up enough that he was ready to be on his own. He still does several meetings a week (thank God).

Best of luck...Crankist
Jan 30, 2002 2:04 PM
We have all found different paths, many need halfway houses or at least hospialization for
a few days at the start if withdrawl is bad. So AA is not often the full solution & has no corner on the market.
Both my brothers are drunks and are unwilling to try to stop. Sorry but really all we can offer now is encouragement.
Have Fun,
Funny thing........Len J
Jan 30, 2002 2:49 PM
After a divorce in 1987 I started paying attention to my behaviors, and both my genetic predisposition and my learned dysfuntional behaviors & started working my own program. Initially these changes resulted in losing my relationships with by brother & 2 sisters. I truly believed that These relationships were gone forever.

Today, what I started in 1987 has resulted in my brother getting the help he needed in 1992 (10 years clean this month Yea!), and a depper relationship with him then I ever had before, my one sister checking herself into a treatment program in 1999, (Clean 3 years in June) and my other sister beginning therapy last July. The 4 of us are struggling to learn how to be both real siblings and real friends. I would have never bet that any of this was possible.

Re. your brothers, you can offer them more than encouragement (if my story is portable), you can offer them a safe place to bring thier fears & a model that shows them that it is possible to be both centered and happy. Ultimatly, the ripple that you put in the pond when you change your behavior will have effects you can't imagine.

I appreciate your thoughts and the situitation with your brothers.

I'm terrified of addiction,TJeanloz
Jan 30, 2002 1:01 PM
I understand the dynamics of addiction, and contrary to your idea, I'm SURE that if I tried crack, I'd be an addict at the snap of a finger. I know that I am genetically predisposed to addiction- that's a fact that I have to face. And I credit my parents with teaching me my genetic history, and honestly explaining why a little "experimentation" might not be a good idea for somebody with my genes.

So I don't drink (much), I don't smoke crack, and I don't snort coke- because I know from my parents that if I start, I probably won't be able to stop, and that's not a place that I want to go.
Credit dueCrankist
Jan 30, 2002 2:21 PM your parents. (Crack may have rules unto itself; I claim no experience with it). My kids are quite aware
now also, but my son (19) smokes weed (insert head shaking) - though nothing like the way I indulged. But beyond alcohol I have quit weed, speed, cigs, and now crap food - replacing it with a happy bike obsession. It's a sad commentary that addictions can also surface in the form of diet Cola, as in my case. : )
Ah crap - here comes the NM snow!!
Caffiene will sneak right up on you...TJeanloz
Jan 30, 2002 5:23 PM
I suppose like most addictions, caffiene will get you good (at least it had me for a while). When I worked retail, I was drinking Pepsi like it was my job. I didn't really feel well on days that I didn't go to work, and I realized that it was because I was drinking 8 Pepsis a day at work and none at home. Realizing that it was a problem took quite a while- thankfully it was easier to give up than most of the other substances discussed.