Some good news for the holidays

Billy Joel’s song “We didn’t start the fire” is an accurate reference that problems exist in the world and always have. I think the key difference is with the Internet and social media age we live in, you can find bad news anywhere in the world. It even slams you in the face if your browser opens up to the news of the day. But, it is not any worse than it has been before. I don’t know if that gives people greater or less comfort. To me, the worse issue is the amount of money it takes to get elected makes politicians beholden to funders and not the issues that face their constituents. So, real issues are not addressed in the way they should be.

However, in this time of bad news first, or per my friend Barney’s favorite quote about the press, “if it bleeds, it leads,” there are a few bright spots, even in the darkest stories.

  • The state of New York has banned fracking in their state due to a report that brings into the equation the health risks that fracking poses for its residents. This caught even anti-fracking advocates by surprise with the report noting there is a correlation between health risks and fracking and it warrants further study under the Precautionary Principle, which scientists around the world uphold. This principle states if there appears to be a risk to humans or the environment which impacts humans due to a process, then the group who benefits from the process needs to convince others that it is safe before proceeding.
  • The number of uninsured folks without healthcare coverage has dropped significantly per the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation from 17.7% to 12.4% as of September 30, 2014. With the huge enrollment success underway with the Affordable Care Act, with over 2.5 million new enrollees as of December 13, this uninsured rate will drop further. This helps people and the economy as it keeps more folks from becoming a train wreck through preventive services and medications, lessens the risk of bankruptcy due to medical reasons and gives them more money to spend. And, the healthcare costs increases are moderating due in part to the Affordable Care Act per multiple sources.
  • While the war on Ebola is far from won, significant progress has been made to the extent people can get a breath of air. Also, with candidates not in election mode spreading fear about Ebola risks, it is less center stage in the US. While it is still a real threat in those countries where it started, there seems to be more concerted efforts and positive stories in the battle to contain the virus. Time Magazine hit a home run with its recognition of the Ebola Fighters as the persons of the year in 2014.
  • Beneath the bad news on ISIS and the Taliban attack that killed the children in Pakistan, the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds are beginning to see who the real danger is to their existence. It is not the US and western allies with all of our imperfections. It is extremists who take advantage of economic strife and blame others for their problems. Killing children glorifies no one. Killing women glorifies no one. Killing people who disagree with you means you fear your argument cannot stand up to debate. The counter balancing problem is the corruption in the leadership. When leaders pocket money for aid, permit bribery to be standard operating practice, and squelch dissent, then they also are as guilty for sowing the seeds of disenfranchisement.
  • For all the crap the President is taking for immigration actions and the recent action on normalizing relations with Cuba, the moves are supported by many including the US Chamber of Commerce and will enhance trade, facilitate the retention of intellectual capital and let the economy be the best goodwill ambassador. Even during the Jim Crow era, economic trade benefitted all and normalized relations to a certain extent. The economic goodwill set the stage for civil right changes. So, if we can leverage what has been done and pass supportive bills to both, getting beyond the “gotcha politics,” then these efforts can be made even more significant.

Some people may not agree with my conclusions, but I see the above as positive developments, even though some of the good news has been instigated at a horrible cost. To me, we must honor those who have died to make sure that others do not die in vain, especially our children and women who are maltreated in far too many places.

Happy holidays to all. And, bless the women and children in the world. They need our support.

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7 thoughts on “Some good news for the holidays

  1. A good friend and intellectual sparring partner reminded me that the killing of 148 women and children in Pakistan may have been the final tipping point and could change the direction of the fight there. Pakistan did shield Bin Laden, but now they may realize just who their enemy is, as you note. Lets hope so.

  2. Thanks for the happy holiday news. Do you think that Obama pushed for normalization with Cuba because the Chamber of Commerce — one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington — supported it?? I just ask….. Anyway, Happy Christmas and a sincere hope for more god news in the New Year!

    • Hugh, these things take time and it appears they have been working on it for awhile. The Chamber’s support had to have helped, but Obama can be rightfully accused of using opportunity as any politician seems to do. It is funny, I keep seeing articles on the positive aspects of this now that the immediate, “I am right, you’re wrong” reaction that seems to be par for the course these days has subsided. As you know, the reality is less important than the perception these days with our lack of attention in this country. Have a great holiday as well. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: I wanted to provide an addendum to the good news on the Affordable Care Act. There are now 27 states that have decided to expand Medicaid which will help those beneath the poverty level gain insurance coverage. Tennessee is close to being the 28th and three other states are in varying stages of moving forward. This is not unlike Medicaid when it first rolled out in that it took a state by state adoption approach. With these four states, who are choosing a variation of the model used by others, as permitted, the end result will be 31 states.

    It should be noted that George Washington University just completed a study that said in addition to helping those in need, the Medicaid expansion helps the economy and is job additive. This jives with earlier studies by the RAND Corporation, The Commonwealth Fund, Kaiser Family Foundation and the Economic Policy Institute.

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