“Cowboy Capitalists” and the American Dream

Our forefathers, educated in the classics and the writings of
their contemporaries in the fields of economics, philosophy, science, farming,
and trade, created a government for our nascent America that surprised the
world. It wasn’t that it was unprecedented. It borrowed from ideologies as
antique as those of Greece and Rome. But just consider how amazing our
Democracy is since it was created in an age of monarchs, of nobles, of serfs.
Do you think those kings and queens, who claimed “divine right”
to rule, wanted anyone to spread the credo that “all men are created equal and
are endowed with certain inalienable rights” – the very rights we hold dear –
life – liberty – the pursuit of happiness. 
Our forefathers started a trend. Their modern anachronism
went, as we would say these days, “viral”. Western Europe became mad for
Democracy. They went to war for it, they demoted their kings and queens for it.
This trend, as we know, did not catch on so much on other key
continents. And so we inherited today’s situation where countries with
differing ideas about governance have to coexist. We haven’t had to respect
theocracies for some time. They existed but they kept the rest of the world
away.
As with every culture we have come to value our form of
government so highly that we often have been guilty of acting almost like
missionaries, wanting to spread our Democracy (and, still, for some, our
Christianity) everywhere. Even now I hold the belief that someday people
everywhere on our planet will enjoy Democracy in one form or another. Except,
not everyone is so gung ho to have their traditions replaced. And we have come
to understand that respect for others means letting them chose their own
government (but not letting them choose ours). As for religion, I believe that
our forefathers, many fleeing religious persecution, were quite adamant in their
belief that people should be free to worship as they please and that the only
way to insure this was to keep religion separate from government.
Today many argue that our forefathers were only thinking about
freedom to pursue different forms of Christianity and they might have hedged
their bets if they knew we might have citizens who worship in so many different
ways or do not worship at all. This is the cusp of our current dilemma. Do we
reinterpret the things our forefathers said? Do we simply revise our documents
to fit some people’s ideas of what they think our forefather’s meant?
Are we perhaps in shock that our Democracy does not seem to be
trending the way it once did? Historically, change takes time. If we can wait
we might find the ideas of liberty and equality gaining popularity once again.
They are looking a bit tarnished as our economics has sort of usurped our
governance. Capitalism can be a bit aggressive and overbearing. We have just
been letting it get out of hand a bit. If we can tamp down those rampaging
Capitalists who have been so busy buying up everything in sight (including our
government) and cornering all the world’s wealth then our freedom might shine
forth once again.
So we need more economic regulation, not less. We need more
taxes on the rich, not less. And I’m thinking that if a Progressive wins and
starts to rein in Capitalists-gone-wild – our new economic “cowboys” – then we
the people will probably have to put up with a bit of punishment before things
level out a bit.
Donald Trump, one of those “cowboy” capitalists, doesn’t seem
to mind putting American ideals aside to win against radical “Islamistic”
terrorists. 
The “all men are created equal” part of Democracy never has sat
well with Capitalists. They sort of adapt it to say that we may be created
equal but we don’t all turn out equal. Those who turn out on top of the heap,
they imply, are there because they are actually better than others (not
luckier, not born with silver spoons). The fact is that these folks interpret
being better as having more money even if they stole it by manipulating laws.
If we let these “Capitalist Cowboys” sidestep our Declaration of Independence
and our U.S. Constitution won’t that be the end of the real America Dream? That
dream is really not at base a materialistic dream at all, but one of freedom of
the mind and of the person (within reason) and of governance “of the people, by
the people, and for the people.”
We can’t exclude all Muslims without forever debasing what
America has stood for around the world and what it is still struggling to stand
for. Our previous lapses may have been grandfathered in, but this time we are
fully aware of the harm from tarring an entire group with the same brush. We
cannot even use religion as an excuse to overturn laws that respect the beliefs
of any segment of our population. 
If we do these things, and it is entirely
possible that we might (fear being very powerful) they can we ever put the best
parts of the American Dream back together again? If we want to show the world
the way a Democratic society brings out a person’s best self then we must be
our best selves. Or we can do what Donald J Trump (did you notice he started
using his middle initial) suggests, but will we still be America afterwards?
By Nancy Brisson

Planned Parenthood Under Continued Attack

I first became aware of the role that Planned Parenthood plays in women’s lives in the 1960’s. I lived in an urban area full of single young people and low income families. Many women used the services of Planned Parenthood in those days as a source for low cost examinations and contraception. The birth control pill was just becoming popular and women were learning about their bodies and experimenting with new feelings of sexual freedom and power. Mammography was not offered annually at that time but pap tests were. Breast cancer existed but we did not have the awareness about it that we now have. Cervical cancer has always been quite dangerous because by the time a woman is aware that she has this cancer it is often too advanced to treat. Both mammograms and pap tests have been real life savers for women and poorer women in particular.
Once the Susan B. Komen for the Cure Foundation formed a partnership with Planned Parenthood to help offset the costs of cancer screening in women, women without regular health care found this partnership genuinely helpful. It offered them low to no cost protection against cancers that are major threats to the lives of women.
But here we are at the beginning of the twenty-first century and we find ourselves at the center of a controversy that threatens women’s health once again. Pro life groups (who I identify as anti-abortion groups) are waging war against abortion. They sincerely believe that life begins at conception. They favor fighting for the life of a blob of cells (which they identify as a child) over fighting for the lives of women and children who are already living among us. They feel that they know the mind of God and that God believes abortion is a sin. They cannot help their actions because they are based in their faith that they are right. These “people of faith” are having a hard time living in a country that supports freedom of religion because their religion requires that they live the creed of their church, and that they require the rest of us to live the creed of their church also. They honestly cannot give money that might be used for abortion because their beliefs forbid it. I understand this. How do we meet the needs of these religious people and also honor our national beliefs in freedom for all people and freedom of religion. I can see that we have to separate our money. We can’t ask people to pay for something they don’t believe in.
Now these same people who do not want to pay for abortions are saying that if any federal monies go to an agency that offers abortions those funds are still enabling abortions. If these monies pay for mammograms and pap tests that frees up other agency funds for abortions and that is still unacceptable as far as these “believers” are concerned. This strikes me as fanatic and extreme but in a society that practices freedom of religion I must respect their stance, even though I wish I didn’t have to. Apparently Planned Parenthood, in order to have the freedom it requires to continue to serve the women who need their services, will have to find a way to operate with completely private funding. I don’t know if they will be able to do this. Will we lose this valuable organization? I hope not. What their opponents are telling us is that there is no way to wall of one part of their services from the other. The opposite side of this coin is that if and when Planned Parenthood becomes a privately funded business, the anti-abortion contingent will be called upon to leave them alone. I don’t believe they will be able to comply.