About my Blog

I am writing this blog from a radical political point of view. To be a political radical is to examine everything critically. It is about taking today's news, today's unmentioned news, history, or even just the way we think about ideas, and adding a totally new perspective to them. If you are a radical, and a socialist, like me, you will agree with a lot of what I have to say. If not, I hope I at least make you think about things that you previously took for granted. Most of all, I hope everyone enjoys this blog.

About Me

I have just graduated from college, where I wrote opinion pieces for my school newspaper. Though I started out a liberal, I have moved far to the left since then. Despite my politics being different from most people, many people found a lot of what I had to say interesting and insightful. I hope to continue challenging people to think here on my blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Mother's Letter to Newsday on the Recent Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

Before I post the letter, I would just like to make a few comments. First of all, I am convinced that these recommendations were intended to allow insurance companies to deny coverage for mammograms.

Secondly, it is under capitalism that women can be treated like statistics instead of people. In the eyes of the elite, we are all statistics, and our fate is decided based on whether or not we produce a profit for certain companies (in this case, the insurance companies).

Without further ado, here is my mom's letter:

Thirteen years ago I wrote to Newsday in response to the National Cancer Institute’s review of mammogram    guidelines which were initially eerily similar to the current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations for breast cancer screening. These current recommendations are telling us that women in their 40s don’t require mammograms, nor should women of any age perform self exams or even get examined by a doctor because these methods are not foolproof, and not enough women will be saved.

I am that “1- in-1,900 woman” who was saved by getting a mammogram at 41 years old when I was diagnosed with a virulent, fast-growing cancer that would have killed me if I had even waited another year.

My kids were four and seven years old when I was diagnosed. They are now 19 and 22, one a college graduate, the other a college sophomore. I’ve lived a very full 15 years since my diagnosis, watching my kids turn into fine young men, enjoying the company of my husband of 28 years, pursuing my passions, volunteering for causes dear to my heart: - pet therapy, helping foster kids, and fighting breast cancer.

For many women like myself, there is often no way to know whether we are at high risk for breast cancer. Younger women are at a higher risk for fast-growing cancers that require early detection to survive. Early detection can also allow for the cancer treatment to be less invasive and less traumatic.

To say that self exams and possibly even a doctor’s exam of one’s breasts are worthless makes no sense. Do these exams work every time? No, but they’re non-invasive, easy, inexpensive (or free!) tools that find many cancers, - certainly not worthless when a woman’s life is at stake. This task force may think women will follow these recommendations like sheep, but we’ve become educated and savvy. The current breast cancer screening methods may not be foolproof, but we are not fools.

How many cancers found are required to be significant when one of them ends up being yours? I’m not just a statistic, nor are the scores of women who won’t be as lucky as me if these new guidelines are adopted.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sometimes, Opposites Think Alike

In the U.S., liberalism is typically contrasted with conservatism. Conservatism is supposedly the ideology of anyone who sits on the right wing in the U.S. It is the religious right, the CEO's of major corporations, Rush Limbaugh, etc. It combines ideas about the government controlling of people's personal lives, with keeping the government out of people's lives, combined with pro-corporate policies. In other words, there is very little to hold it together as an ideology, it lacks the consistency of an ideology, because it is simply a proxy for ideas that the Republican Party meshes together and takes as their own.

Liberalism is in some ways even more contradictory outside of the marketplace, in that liberals want the government to stay out of our personal lives, and to have our personal lives controlled via law, ie. government.

However, I want to discuss something different all together, namely, the two views of the market and the government that dominate in this country. These are referred to as liberalism and libertarianism (although it really refers to right wing libertarianism, since the term really only refers to opposition to government).

While liberalism consists of the belief that government should intervene to protect us from the market, libertarianism is the belief that the government should stay out of the market, and our lives, because we need to be protected from the government. Liberals believe government is good, the market is evil, libertarians believe that the market is good, government is evil.

Both ideologies are correct about what is evil, and wrong about what is good. To repeat a quote I've used before from the communist manifesto: "The executive of the modern state is nothing but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” In other words, the market controls the government, and they are both evil for the same reason, namely, they are tools of the capitalist class. (This is more of a left wing libertarian position, anti-government, and anti-market).

In this sense, "conservatism" begins to make a little more sense than Rush Limbaugh when we realize that one of the instincts within it is correct, namely the libertarian opposition to government. Likewise, liberalism makes sense in that it isn't supposed to be "big government" at the expense of the people, so much as it is supposed to be government protecting the people from "big business."

Of course, both are wrong, in that in both cases, asking one to take care of the other is like asking an arsonist to put out a fire. The government cannot save us from the people that it works for, anymore than the market can save us from the government that works for it.

Even worse, the political parties that claim to represent these ideologies fail to do so. The Democrats pretend to oppose big business, but they are just as pro big business as the Republicans. Likewise, the Republicans pretend to oppose big government, but they are just as pro big government as the Democrats. For example, its hard to be more pro big business than Obama's trillions of dollars in bailouts, just as it is hard to be more pro big government than Bush's Patriot Act. Of course, these are not just acts of the president, both parties supported these acts in Congress, making them truly bipartisan affairs.

People instinctively understand this. That is why, even when they are ideological opposites, they tend to find themselves voting for the "lesser of two evils" or not voting at all. We tend to underestimate the act of not bothering to vote. We assume people are lazy, yet we forget that the political elite as convinced us to frown upon people who don't vote. Let's not forget how "important" the last election was supposed to be, particularly if you were for Obama. If not voting was not considered to be taboo, we'd probably have less than 20% of people voting during a presidential election!

In conclusion, regarding the market and the government, Many Americans have been divided along two ideological lines. They feel vindicated, because half of what they think really is true. They vote for political parties that they know don't even support their ideology, but they consider them the "lesser of two evils." Some of us try to oppose this farce all together, but are few in number and fairly powerless because most who see the farce for what it is, give up, and believe that if change via elections is not possible, then no change is possible. This system is ideal for the elite, because under this system, nothing ever changes. Ultimately, it is time for us to realize that change is only possible when we unite to revolt against this oppressive capitalist system, instead of siding with one half of it over the other.