Last week, while watching the Democratic debate between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, a portion of the allotted time was wasted as the two argued over which one was” Progressive”, and which was “Moderate”. Now, as a potential voter for one of these (although it doesn’t make much difference in my case; I live in strongly Republican Wyoming and due to the vagaries of the Electoral College, my vote for any Presidential candidate other than a Republican won’t count), I really don’t give what some refer to as a “Rat’s Ass”. Rather, I would suggest that each one of these folks just “go ahead and do what you think is right”, and let someone else decide if it’s Progressive or Moderate. And let me decide if whatever is proposed makes sense, or not.

Of course, that measure can’t be reasonably applied to just about anything that the Republican candidates are ranting about, and again we are confronted with their War of Words. Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Bush continue to argue over which one of them is the most Conservative, whatever that means. They sound like schoolyard kids saying “my dad can beat up your dad”, or something similar (I can speak to this, I was an elementary and middle school principal for about 30 years along with other duties). The TV pundits say that they are trying to appeal to the Conservative segment of the population in order to get their vote, and the more conservative they can present themselves, the greater chance of success.

They usually start off with the “reduce taxes” announcement, not bothering to say which taxes are being slashed. It’s quite natural to “not like taxes”, but at the same time we need to understand what those taxes are providing in the area of services. I want to know what to expect but to this point there have been few specifics mentioned. I need to say that I don’t like to be paying more taxes, or user fees for trash pickup, or water and sewer, or property tax, and etc., but in reality it’s really okay as long as we’re getting good “bang for the buck”. It should be our governmental entities responsibility to make sure that we are in fact getting good value for money spent.

As a registered “unaffiliated” (that’s Wyoming-ese for Independent) voter, I suspect that many of my colleagues are fiscally conservative while at the same time socially progressive; in other words we favor programs that provide quality service to as many as possible, for the best price. In my case, my favorite words are “Clearance”, “Discount”, and “Sale”, perhaps a legacy from my Dad who had an extensive flea market niche, but I apply these terms also to areas beyond retail. And I think most folks who consider themselves as conservative apply that primarily to fiscal and religious concerns, and at the same time welcome many of the social programs. “Don’t touch my Medicare!”

It’s somewhat amusing at some of the ranting against Senator Sanders for his announcement that he’s a Democratic Socialist. If one looks at those lists of the top 10 countries in the world for Medical, Life Expectancy, Quality of Life, General Satisfaction, etc., almost all of them are examples of Democratic Socialism. We have pockets of that here, big ones, with Social Security and Medicare, but they don’t quite go far enough. Opponents scream about the high taxes these other places have to pay (for that satisfaction!); I suggest that we may be paying as much for less quality if what we pay out for health insurance is added to the amount we pay in taxes. I know that when I worked in school administration, it cost around $17000 annually for family health insurance, over and above salaries paid. Sanders and Clinton are quite right that we are getting screwed by the pharmaceuticals and insurance corporations, compared to other places in the world, and our services are not near the top of the list in quality despite the costs.

For many years, I’ve complained about the oil companies being subsidized by the government in spite of their reaping in enormous profits. Well, now they’re having problems, and on a personal basis I see lots of folks in our state being laid off due to the massive decline in oil prices. If we were a democratic socialism society, the government could set a per gallon price and leave it there regardless of the ups and downs of the supply and demand. That would stabilize budgeting, not only for the oil companies but also for those of us consumers. I don’t know if that would be $2 or whatever per gallon, economists would have to figure that out, but it could remedy the “boom and bust” cycle in the petroleum industry, remove the big subsidies, and still allow them to function and retain full employment

I guess if voting for Socialism were an option in the U.S. I would be sorely tempted to go in that direction. People need to understand that Socialism is not a dictatorship, it is not Communism; rather it is a democracy which includes the possibility of capitalistic enterprises while providing more services to the greater number. Those countries to which I referred have their own millionaires, but more of the population is enjoying the benefits that are available. (they also have shorter work hours and more vacations!).

Another thought about Words. Small changes in what we say can have a dramatic effect. One such difference has really troubled me, not because I don’t understand the meaning and intent of the expression, but that I believe it could have been better if one more word were added. The phrase, “Black Lives Matter”, I think could have a more powerful meaning if the word, “too”, were added. Adding it would in my opinion more effectively have All of us share in a spirit of teamwork which recognizes that the lives of all of us are important, while at the same time emphasizing overcoming the many inequities suffered by our African-American brothers during the past 300 years. As the phrase stands, it may in fact create divisiveness with its “In Your Face” connotation. But maybe that’s what was intended.

A final thought about words. Their meanings can change over time, as they respond to new environments and understandings. A major case surrounds the use of the word, “insane”, as research and changes in social norms are progressing toward quite different perceptions of what is really happening within individuals, and especially as changes in the criminal justice system are being considered. One of my close friends has a blog site which has more on this topic, “the unashamedschizophenic” on WordPress.com; his viewpoints are particularly incisive due to his having been inaccurately diagnosed years ago and therefore was not receiving appropriate treatments for his real condition. Through his writing, I have a better understanding of the enormity of this problem, that there are many others having had similar experiences and unfortunately often with bad outcomes. I recommend this.

Well, it’s time to head for bed so that I can devote some pre-sleep time to savoring my Broncos’ win in last week’s Super Bowl. And to try and suppress my excitement as I look toward next year. After all, the neurosurgeon verified that I don’t need cervical spine surgery, so I’m headed south to play golf this weekend in Pueblo, Colorado, and hope the referral to a neurologist can solve the issues.

Always Be Happy         To Our Youth

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