Politics creates stark contradictions

We live in a world of stark contradictions. In politics, conservatives rally around a pro-life agenda. They are dedicated to protecting the unborn, the weakest of the human species and unable to defend themselves from the destructive behavior of their own mothers.

The pro-life position is a noble, outspoken cause against the law of the land that gives the mother the right to choose an abortion for any reason. More than 40 million lives have been snuffed out since the ?Roe vs. Wade? ruling by the Supreme Court.

Yet, because conservatives focus on this fundamental issue and not the sanctity of all human life, they oppose any health-care reform that includes language to protect the lives of millions of Americans, already born.

People that live with a pre-existing-condition ?label? given by health insurers know what that means: unaffordable health insurance with extremely high deductibles and high co-pays, at best. Often, health insurance is unavailable at any price.

Health-care rationing is ongoing and an everyday tragedy. Unaffordable health care puts people?s lives at risk as families struggle with financial stress, loss of jobs due to illness and the inability to access wellness programs that can improve physical health.

Unaffordable medical costs are among the leading causes of financial bankruptcy, not to mention a major cause for stress and marital breakup of the American family.

Who speaks out for these people? Is their life not worth saving? It?s a sad irony that those most dedicated to saving unborn babies are opposed to saving them after birth, no pun intended.

Both political parties are responsible for the way health care reform is addressed. They are obsessed with their focus on maintaining or recapturing political power.

When Republicans were in power, health care issues were put on hold. Even tort reform, a conservative cause, was given lip service while they were in control, and rightly so because tort reform isn?t as effective in containing health-care costs as they claimed.

?It?s really just a distraction,? said Tom Baker, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of ?The Medical Malpractice Myth.?

?If you were to eliminate medical malpractice liability, even forgetting the negative consequences that would have for safety, accountability, and responsiveness, maybe we?d be talking about 1.5 percent of health-care costs. So we?re not talking about real money. It?s small relative to the out-of-control cost of health care.?

With Republicans in control, minority Democrats became the party of ?No? as they stone?walled reform initiatives in the same way minority Republicans are acting today.

The goal of the party leadership is not to fashion a workable, non-partisan compromise that benefits all Americans, but to defeat the opposition and get re-elected. Every taxpayer should be outraged at this behavior. It is time for the American taxpayer to tell the political leaders of all parties to stop this nonsense and get down to the real business of governance.

The current recession is exposing another contradiction in education. Our legislature and local school boards are wrestling with the issue of what to cut and which programs should be saved. One does not envy their position nor their responsibility at this time, for no matter what they do, they will receive much criticism.

A recent issue of the Free Press highlighted a laundry list of proposed cuts at USD 410. Conspicuously absent are two major athletic programs, basketball and football. An obvious, logical explanation is these programs required a major investment in facilities and staff, requiring long-term financial commitments and therefore, it is not prudent to make major cuts in these programs.

However, in the same way the proverbial ?frog? will not jump from a slowly warming frying pan, athletic programs have re-prioritized spending on education through the years. It is nearly impossible to initiate a strategic change in direction, not only in our secondary schools, but also our colleges and universities. The frog is unable to sense the danger and, even if it did, it may not be able to jump far enough to save its own life.

Too many major programs and staff, not to mention the massive investment in buildings and infrastructure for athletics, prevents our elected decision-makers from doing the right thing and redirecting the focus back to where it should have been all along.

We can debate the value of athletic programs to the educational process until the cows come home, or argue over the economic benefits of athletic events. In the end, if educational priorities do not change, our children will not receive the best education and our educational competitiveness in the world will not improve. Currently, we rank well below lesser developed countries in mathematics and science.

Our educational system is flawed. We place a higher value on trophies in the trophy case and tailgate parties at the gridiron on Saturday nights more than we value educating the next generation of Americans.

A major change in direction is possible, but it takes tremendous courage to implement and is costly, especially for people in elected positions. However, that decision would be the right one to make.

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