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Saturday quotes 2.24: Reality

November 3, 2012

“[Thinking people are] in what we call the reality-based community, [people who] believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality…That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

– Karl Rove, Republican strategist

We’re slightly off-track this week due to health issues — problems that bring into relief some of the concerns we all must face and that characterize the hazards of living in the US today.  This coming week marks a presidential election where we are forced to choose between a leader who is not so good or one who is much, much worse.

The medical industry problem is enormously frustrating in that actual access to medical attention has been blithely ignored in favor of a discussion focused on whether Americans should or should not be required to pay extortion in the form of insurance.  Whether private or public, insurance is a product that is sold to consumers with the object of maximizing profits to the company’s shareholders.  That means there will be built-in disincentives for consumers to use the coverage they may or may not be required to buy.

Statistics show that, in the US, we spend $7,900 per person on health care annually, while Canada spends $4,800, Germany spends $4,220 and France spends $3,978. Typically, an MRI in American costs $1,080, and in France it costs $280.  Is the cost differential an example of the “advantage” of the free market approach?  If so, the advantage is certainly not realized by the public but, again, by the corporate shareholders.

Reality: The free market creates artificially inflated costs and insurance has nothing to do with true access to medical attention.

One presidential candidate has taken the “let them eat cake” approach to the problem:

“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance. If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”

“When they show up at the hospital, they get care. They get free care paid for by you and me. If that’s not a form of socialism, I don’t know what is. ”

– former Massachusetts Governor Willard Romney

Another serious concern we have in the US is access to voting and validated electronic vote counting.  It turns out that the manufacturers and distributors of electronic voting machines are what we like to call Corporate Citizens.  It also turns out that they tend to lend their ill-gotten riches to one particular candidate.

Hart InterCivic is a national provider of election voting systems that are used in swing-states Ohio and Colorado…

H.I.G. is the 11th largest donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign. H.I.G. employees have given $338,000 to the Romney campaign, outpacing even Bain Capital itself, which gave  $268,000.

Of H.I.G.’s 22 American directors, 21 donated to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Of these 22 American directors, seven of them (nearly one-third) are former Bain employees.

– The Daily Dolt

But don’t take my word for it, read the article.

We truly need objective election observers to monitor our so-called free election process.  When the United Nations-affiliated Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) announced its intention to send observers from Albania, Estonia, Russia, Slovenia and Turkey to Texas, they are threatened and intimidated by state officials.

We can only hope for the best in the coming election but the process needs rebooting, and we need a reality-based alternative that wasn’t dreamed up by Karl Rove.

  1. Andrew Hartig permalink

    I subscribed to this blog for the [early] music commentary. I hope future entries don’t digress as much as this one (not even a “Dowland’s health care” connection). If they do, I think you’ll find yourself with one less reader.

    • Hi, Andrew –

      Thanks for subscribing, and for commenting. By our calculations, 14.63% of our posts on ‘Unquiet Thoughts’ have delved into politics, and we’d expect that to continue. The government of our country has a much greater impact on our working lives as professional musicians, which includes our access to health care, and it probably warrants considerably more time. However, we generally compartmentalize our online lives unless there is an excessive amount of overlap. We’d miss you if you left, and we hope you won’t. But it’s our blog, and it will continue to reflect what’s on our minds.


  2. As a non US person I found it very interesting. I think you have explained the issues much better that most commentators in our UK newspapers. And I expect health care was as important an issue in the 16th century as it is today although they didn’t have insurance based systems in those times.

    • Thank you for your enlightened and supportive comments. It is refreshing to hear from people outside of the US who can observe and grasp the interconnectedness of historical art and modern life. At the same time, it is unsettling to see how many fellow Americans seem to live up to the stereotyped narcissistic ignorance that unfortunately characterizes our national identity to our global audience.

      While misplaced priorities and endemic political corruption are certainly not unique to the US, our national identity is defined by a maniacal obsession with the valorization of every aspect of life, which is no more than shortsightedness, shameful bad manners, and just plain sad. This is the environment in which we as artists attempt to share the subtle and spiritual aesthetic of music for voice and lute from a different time — an age that was miserable, unjust, and flawed in many, many ways, but at least people led more integrated lives based on authentic human interactions.

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