Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Politics”

A Request Of The President, Other Elected Officials, And All Americans

Mr. President,

This is certainly one of the most trying times in our country’s history.  And as you deal with the myriad of issues that need to be considered in dealing with this crisis, one thing I think you and I can agree on, is that things do not need to be made worse.

And that is why I am asking you to stop referring to the Covid19 or Corona Virus, as the “China Virus.”  I know that you give the logic that it is okay because that is where the virus originated.  And while true, it is unnecessary.  The virus has both a scientific name and a common name for the public to recognize it, Covid19, Corona Virus.

You claim to have one of the highest IQ’s ever.  And if that is true, then you are definitely smarter than I am.  And if I can recognize the problem with referring to this crisis as “the China virus,” with you being smarter, then that means that you have to recognize that as well.

There is a reason viruses and crisis are not called certain names.  Because it would be offensive.  Using the logic of geographical location is wrong.  We do not refer to AIDS as “the African virus.”  We do not call colon cancer “Ass Cancer.”  Mr. President, it is just as offensive to refer to the Corona virus as “the China virus.”  In fact, it is not just offensive, it is downright dangerous, especially to those of Asian ethnicity.  And why is it dangerous?

Whether you are doing it intentionally or not, those words, “China Virus” act as a “dog whistle”.  A dog whistle produces a sound that only a dog can hear, not the human using it or anyone else.  When blown, the dog reacts.  And that is what your words have the danger of creating, only it is not dogs reacting.  There are those who are racially biased that go by several names and each time you invoke the words “China Virus” as the President of The United States, these individuals hear only one thing, that their president supports their cause.  Because these white nationalists look for any reason to support their cause, for an all-white society.  And your words will incite these individuals to act in negative and violent ways.

I know that you do not believe you are doing anything wrong.  And no, you are not actually participating in the acts.  But because certain individuals will react to the use of the certain words you choose to repeat over and over, simply stopping the use of the words is something you can do, to prevent any more attacks on the Asian community, which have already occurred.

Again, a dog whistle is only meant to be heard by a dog.  The words that you use, are the same thing.  Intelligent people know the correct and harmless (if you can use the word with this virus) way to refer to the virus.  But those with racist motives will hear only one thing, that you are saying that the Chinese are to blame for all the ills caused by the virus, which simply is not true.  Certainly there were things that the Chinese government did that were wrong, but so has other countries, including the United States.  But that is no reason to blame an entire ethnic group of people.

So before things get any worse for our country, by disrespecting and mistreating an entire population of our country, please refer to this awful crisis by the names that it has been given, Covid19, or the Corona Virus.  Again, your claim of intelligence versus many, including mine, even I know this is the right thing to do, which means then, that you should know that as well.

92% – Does The Majority Really Matter?

In a recent USA Today headline, “Our System Is Sick”, the claim is that 92% of all Americans want changes in healthcare.  Some of the stats shared by USA Today:

95% want affordable car

94% want lower prescription drug costs and affordable and accessible coverage of pre-existing conditions

93% access to doctors and hospitals

90% improving health care itself

85% want all to have health coverage

That last stat is really kind of odd, and actually quite a large number to object to coverage for everyone.  I really do not understand that, unless, UNLESS, to want everyone to have health coverage, that would mean you would have to concede that health care is a basic human right, and not a privilege.  Some Americans just are not willing to accept that concept.  And that is sad.

Being a cancer survivor, I have a HUGE vested interest in this fight.  At the age of 21, I was invincible.  I was immortal.  I had also previously dropped my health insurance that my parents had been paying for me.  I was healthy.  Why would I throw money away into something I was never going to have to use?  I would be giving money away, for nothing.  My history shows just how disastrous that thinking was.

Another political season is upon us, and that means of course increased arguments and more importantly, more empty promises when it comes to what to be done about health care.  Yes, I am a cynic about this.  Having a huge interest in health care personally, over the years I have become a single issue voter, and that issue is health care.  In my nearly 30 years of survivorship, we are not much better off than I was back in my cancer days.  And it has not mattered who was president.  Clinton brought us HMO’s, which was a discounted health plan, but you traded the lower cost for a lot more bureaucratic bullshit when it came to getting cared for.  If you had something actually wrong, you were restricted who you could see, could be denied critical testing until you exhausted appeals until your situation was dire, or worse.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA), was supposed to be a huge step toward making health care affordable and accessible, but it too had flaws, a lot of them.  The biggest flaw?  Not correcting and improving those flows.  But with fighting from both political parties, ultimately, the losers were Americans dying for affordable and accessible health care.  The huge step backwards came with the current president, who chipped away at the ACA, as the entirety of the act hangs in the balance of total repeal, in spite of him promising “the best health care ever.”  Three years into his presidency, nothing, except he would deal with it once re-elected.

I do not want this post to be about the failings of all of our presidents to do the right thing, and that is to make sure that every American has the right to affordable and accessible health care.  Instead, I want to refer back to the statistic above, 85% of the people surveyed want all to have health insurance.  I want to talk about that 15%.  That 15% is the reason, and evidently enough to prevent any kind of solutions to our health care crisis.  It was believed that a “public option” to the ACA would have made a difference.  It never happened.  And there is plenty of talk about “Medicare For All”.  And that is all that has really happened for three decades, lots of talk.  And you know what has happened in all that time?  A lot of people have died, waiting, hoping.

So who might that 15% of America be that do not want every American to have the right to health care?  I have some theories.

The Health Insurance.  I have spent a lot of ink bashing the insurance industry, deservedly so.  The basic concept of insurance, you pay them money in case you get sick.  They only make money, if you do not get sick.  Well guess what?  Just as I found out at age 22 getting diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, plenty of people find out they actually do get sick, and many cases extreme.  The only way for the insurance company to survive, is to either raise premiums (and all of the other components such as co-pays, etc.), deny coverages, or deny patients.  So yes, the insurance industry is one of the big bad guys in the health care crisis.

Now it also needs to be stated, I have many friends who work in the industry.  They get paid to administer, sell, and answer all forms of issues.  It is how they make their living.  These are very good people and would lose their jobs without the health insurance industry, though I am sure in a government run health care program, they would have that option, as well as the many benefits of a federal employee.

As many candidates for president either push for elimination of the insurance industry for health care, others opt for a side by side option with federal and private insurance, the truth is, the health insurance industry will not survive a “Medicare for All” or hybrid.  “Medicare For All” shuts the insurance down completely, but those who offer MFA as an option, in hopes of driving down premiums and other costs, the insurance industry simply gets choked out if it cannot charge enough to make a profit.  Seriously, why would you pay a higher rate for the same coverage?

Taxpayers  The boogie man here is the word “tax.”  Nobody likes taxes.  And the only thing worse, is an “additional tax.”  But as anyone with a 3rd grade education should be able to do, figure out the math benefit of an MFA versus traditional insurance coverage.  I want to be clear, I am using simple and basic numbers, not actual numbers, but the example is used to demonstrate the impact.

A tax of let’s say, 10% is taken from income.  An annual income of $45,000 would be taxed $4500 for the year health coverage.  Currently, and I do know this as fact, a single policy holder in Florida can pay $1600 per month even having no pre existing conditions through Blue Cross.  This amounts to $19,200 per year.  Again, put the mind of a 3rd grader into your head… which is better for you?  Paying $4500 a year, or paying $19,200 a year.

There are actually people, and I know several, that have no problem paying nearly $15,000 more than they would need to pay, as long as they were not paying a tax to the government.  The literal definition of cutting your nose off to spite your face.  The war cry “I don’t want government involved in my health care.”  The people with this attitude have accepted their belief to rather be broke or denied health care, than to pay a tax to the government.  But this group needs to go a little further into detail.

“Christians” and other people just worried about themselves  I remember as far back as the 1970’s and 1980’s, we used to be a nation that cared about others, the homeless, the unemployed, the sick.  Now I purposely used the word “Christians” and had it in quotes, because there are those that hide behind that title and yet contradict the beliefs of their religion, to care about others.  And here is why I shut that argument down.  I actually have friends who adamantly state…

“I am not paying for someone lazy to have health insurance.”  Their use of the word lazy is really vague, and I imagine it is on purpose.  Because if you pin someone down by asking why you think someone is lazy, unless you are 100% aware of the circumstances of an individual, you have no idea why.  And honestly, why is it anyone’s business why someone is not able to work, or unable to find work.  It makes no difference the reason why.  You know the expression, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”  We are no different than a book.  I am a bit more open about the health issues that I deal with, and therefor do not usually get called out, anymore that is.  But there are those who do not make their issues known publicly.  And who are we to judge their circumstance?  Do we not have enough on our own plates to worry about?

So if we deal with the insurance industry, and get people to understand common sense that it better to pay a lower figure tax as opposed to a high profit premium, we still have the thoughts of not wanting to help others as the speed bump to lower health costs and affordability, even if it meant better for themselves.

Look, health care was not complicated decades ago.  And everyone was taken care of.  I had to ask my mother how my care was handled as a child.  She paid $5 for an office visit.  And I recall a hospital surgery in my early childhood, that, my mother, a single mother at the time, was not forced into bankruptcy with the bill from the hospital.  And admittedly, there was a thing called “malpractice” lawsuits that increased health care costs, because doctors had to carry insurance against those lawsuits.  And because that made healthcare costs rise, the need for insurance came along.  And then, Big Bad Pharma found their goldmine.  If I needed medicine from my doctor as a child, guess what, the medicine was given from the doctor’s office itself.

We know the reasons for the high costs of health care.  We know this can be dealt with.  We know that the majority of Americans want it dealt with.  Why are we still just talking about it?  If you are a candidate for president, I am listening if you want my vote.  Every other industrialized country covers its citizens, not profiting off of their sick.  Sure there are problems.  But those problems are no reason to just keep talking and do nothing.

The Sham Of The “Best Interests of The Child”

Being an advocate, it is hard to turn off the “ping” that goes off, triggering a call to respond to something that goes against an issue that you fight for.  Before I begin, I must state for my trolls…


I was doing what I often do, helping one of my daughters in determining what courses she should take for next year.  This particular daughter, has some big eyes.  She wants to do and take everything.  Initiative.  You have to admire that.  Once she has expressed everything she is interested, in an effort to help her whittle her list down to a more manageable and doable schedule, she still found herself in a bind with one or two courses that she wanted to take.

Admittedly, you probably will not find many kids who are willing to take on extra classes, just because.  But as I helped my daughter to prioritize what was important to her, I asked her what she felt especially strong about, passion.

I was about to present an option to her that I know she was completely unaware of, but I did.  Her school district offers after school courses, which, two of her choices that she was looking to enroll in, were actually available outside of school.  Meaning?  She could take the courses that would make the difference academically, and the extra courses she could take to help her decide if that is what she really wanted to do, without wasting valuable credits.  I have her curiosity and we are currently working on that situation.

But it is what I found on one of the pages of the brochure of the community education provided by the school district, that is what triggered me.

This is a snapshot from the brochure, and I have intentionally scratched out the instructor’s name, coincidentally, a family court lawyer.

Now unless you have been through the process of custody, you have no idea the what it is like to have the rush of bile into the throat upon seeing this.  If you have never gone through a divorce and are about to, you see it as an opportunity how to DIY (do it yourself) with important information such as the “sixteen factors” which do exist in the state’s law, but the “tools that can be used to aid in presenting your case to the court?”  I have a problem with that.

The timing of this class is unfortunate as well.  This was taken from the Fall brochure, but as I researched, the instructor is teaching another one of these courses in the Spring, so, in spite of the hope that lies ahead, it seems that at least someone is teaching “business as usual” instead of the great news of the new process that will hopefully be coming.

You see, the state in which this is occurring, is one of the latest, and one of the last, to recognize the rights of both parents in a declaration of 50-50 shared legal and physical custody.  For many, we still cannot understand why this is not a guarantee for all states, and still there are some that have not begun the process to legislate this.

Many states have approved, and more are in the process of approving, laws that guarantee the rights of both parents (when applicable) to legal and physical custody.  Prior to this, in spite of the “sixteen factors,” if both parents  met those factors equally, one parent still was likely to be given an award of full or primary custody.  Full meaning just that, primary meaning that children would get to spend overnights with the other parent, visitation if you will.

Back in the 1950’s, mothers were stay at home, so courts often ruled against the fathers for custody, simply because they were never around, BECAUSE THEY WERE WORKING!!!.  They were penalized for being the only one bringing in money, by not being considered for custody of their children.

I will spare the chronological progression through the decades, but needless to say, in the 21st century, it is more the rule than the exception, that in a two-parent family, both parents work.  So it would make sense then, that perhaps there should be an adjustment to the assumption of custody.  Only in recent years, have states begun the process of giving both parents equal rights of custody.

In Florida, also one of the states lagging behind correcting this injustice, in December of last year, the legislature filed a bill that would give equal custody to both parents, presumed, not by way of contesting and objections.  In the state where this “course” is being taught, the bill was filed back in May of 2019, still yet to be passed into law.

I will get to the opponents of the position of equal custody in a moment.  But first, the obvious argument to which their can be no objection to.  I challenge you to find a reason why equal and shared custody should not be presumed.  And here is the example.

Husband and wife, a.k.a. father and mother, never have any negative history in their family in regard to their parenting.  Both work.  Both play an active role in their childrens lives.  No history of domestic issues.  Regardless of what the current status of any laws in any state, if something happens to one parent, such as a debilitating illness or even worse, death, the surviving (or healthy) parent would then assume 100% custody of the children.  Why?  Because that person is the parent.  So, if that parent is to be assumed capable of taking over custody in the event of a tragedy, why should that parent not have the equal right to the children when both parents are capable?

You cannot argue that.  If that parent is good enough when “forced” into full time single parenting, that parent is just as good to have the right to be the parent with equal time shared with the other parent.

This is the exact scenario that is being argued and states are in the process of passing laws in favor of, making this thinking the presumed situation.  Or as advocates for shared custody would call it, literally, “the best interests of the child.”  And this is in agreement with psychological professionals as well, that as long as both parents exist, it is in the best interests of the children to have equal time with both parents.

There are two main groups that will be very vocal against this.  The first of course, will be the lawyers.  They argue that the children risk being exposed to domestic violence if the children are not given to one particular parent until the situations are completely researched.  In other words, assume the worst of one of the parent, until that parent can litigate their rights for equal custody.  And yes, children do need to be protected from abusive situations.  But not at the innocent expense of a parent and children.  Especially when there is no known evidence of any kind of domestic abuse.  The cynic in me will go one step further and say of course the lawyers will not support a bill like this, because financially, they have everything to lose.  Imagine, parents being given equal custody means no more lengthy drawn out and expensive court filings and modifications.  For the parents, this is a win because of all the money saved that can be used for the children.

And of course, the other group are the bitter spouses/parents.  The ones who feel entitled (i.e. only a mother can take care of children), filled with vengeance for a relationship ending in break-up, and a phenomenon called “the baby mama” (ones who get pregnant for the purposes of collecting court determined and ordered child support).  Obviously it is called that, as the male cannot get pregnant, and only the mother has full control of the situation.  Just looking at the descriptions of the above and tell me what you see missing.  The relevance of what role the children have in these selfish behaviors… NONE!  How is this in the best interests of the children?  It is not and everyone knows it.

Another group does exist, and is definitely for the best interests of the children, and that is advocates against domestic abuse.  We all know these situations exist.  We have also heard the nightmares of children services not responding or doing enough to protect children in harms way.  But to throw a blanket over the whole custody issue claiming domestic violence as the reason for presuming less than shared custody, to protect the child, then other children are harmed by being denied the opportunity of equal time with both parents, who are not exposed to that violent environment.  In other words, being punished for something they did not do.

We all experience this type of situation at one time or another in our lives.  We get punished as a group for something someone or some group has done.  An entire class gets extra homework because someone was talking during class.  Yes, that will teach the innocent ones.  All employees lose extra “break” time because a supervisor has an ax to grind with one employee.  Instead of the supervisor dealing with the employee, the boss makes all employees pay a price, which he hopes will result in those employees “correcting” the offending employee.

Do you see how awful this thinking is?  Punishing someone for something that they did not do?  Remove the parents from the equation, leaving only the children.  How is restricting a child from one of their parents, whom they have known the entire time that their parents were married, never witnessed any violence in the home against the other parent or themselves, with both parents more than capable of taking care of the child, in the best interests of the child?  It isn’t.

That is why, like the two states mentioned above are in the process of doing what so many have already corrected, and others need to come to the realization, in the families where children have two parents, that in the ending of that relationship, the children need both parents… EQUALLY!

I wonder if that lawyer is teaching that in the class.  Or does she follow the lead of the temperament of the “students” simply looking for less expensive advice, emotional support and “understanding” of their situation, and lead those how to follow the path if they feel sole custody is what matters and how to get the system to order that?

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