Wednesday, January 28, 2015

NBA TV Show "The Starters" Absent Diversity

A writer writes!

There is a television show on the NBA TV network called "The Starters".  It's allegedly a show where "guys" talk about basketball.  One day I figured this might be an interesting show to watch.  A show with "man talk".  Watching "the fellas" talk trash about one of America's favorite distractions, basketball.

So, I turn to the show and I see that the show features four Caucasian guys who look like they are in their twenties, maybe thirties.  I'm thinking to myself, now the NBA has to be at least 75% African Americans.  This show has 100% Caucasian hosts talking about basketball.  Plus they don't look old enough to even have a working knowledge of some of the legendary basketball greats.  I'm talking about Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson.  What can these guys talk about that would interest me?  Well my answer was after about thirty seconds I lost interest in what they were talking about and changed to the History channel.

Come on NBA channel!  Is that the best you could give us?  I can see these guys playing their NBA 2K Playstation game just before coming onto the set of the show.  Can't you throw in at least one African American and foreign male onto this panel to talk about basketball?  Now where did they get the name "The Starters" from?  These guys couldn't start on your local church league team.  So why should we care about their opinions on basketball?  What makes them experts whose opinion we are to value.  Hey, maybe I should contact the NBA channel as my opinions about basketball are probably as misinformed as those on "The Starters" panel.  "My Basketball Opinion, My Basketball Viewpoint" soon to be appearing on the NBA channel.  Tune in for 30 seconds when I'm on the panel.  Then turn back to your reality show.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Affordable Health Care Act Year 2

A writer writes!

Who would have thought the idea of ensuring everyone has health care would be a controversial item?  Well, apparently it's all in the details.  The Affordable Health Care Act, given the political name "Obamacare", is now going into year two. I recall during the first term of President Clinton, when a drive for a health care bill was derailed.  The politics of that era doomed any hope of a health care bill being passed by Congress.

I already had health care so the Affordable Health Care Act did not have any specific wide spread impact on me.   It did allow me to get more free preventive care items such as blood tests and an annual preventive health care exam.  Being cost free I make sure I get these items done each year.  The goal being that if something is caught early I can take steps to correct some health conditions that are treatable.

Some in Congress have designs to overturn the Affordable Health Care Act, but have not proposed to  replace it with another program.  How does repealing a law without a suggested replacement help to ensure health care is available to all?  I don't have that answer.  Ask that of those who want to repeal the Affordable Health Care  Act.  Maybe it comes down to economics and who has to pay for the provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act.  But, if businesses and the employee both share in paying for health care, why is that a negative scenario?  It would seem that an employee who has health care would be more valuable to an employer than someone who does not have health care. Someone with health care can take action to deal with a health issue.  The person without health care likely will have more problems overcoming an illness and then lose their job as a residual part of being in poor health.  A sick employee should not be at work.  They should be dealing with their illness so they can return to work and  lead a productive life.

Sure there may be changes needed to Affordable Health Care as time elapses.  Make those changes and scrutinize and evaluate each year what needs to be  modified and improved.  Just because a law is passed does not mean it should never be revisited.  I'm sure there have been lessons learned in year one.  There is no shame in discussing those lessons learned and then making changes.

So to those in Congress who are on a rampage to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act I say, wait.  Don't just abolish the health care act.  Suggest improvements and modifications.  Be a real lawmaker.  Don't just yell "fire" and lead the way out of the theater.  Bring in the water hose to put the fire out.  Help to keep the structure of the theater in tact, don't tear it down.  When you can do that you have truly earned your badge of being an elected official, representing the people who voted for you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Freedom to Say Anything?

A writer writes!

The attack on the office of the French satirical newspaper.  I wondered why would the newspaper create the images of Muhammad knowing what repercussions they could face?  Apparently the reason fell under the umbrella of "freedom of speech".  The newspaper apparently felt it had the right to create and publish the material regardless of who was offended by the newspaper's display of "freedom".  In this instance that freedom of speech had deadly consequences to the staff of the newspaper, their families, and a ripple effect worldwide.

Even though the newspaper understood that creating the images was offensive to a segment of the Muslim community, the staff made a conscious decision to create and publish them.  Did the newspaper then take the necessary steps to protect the safety and security of the newspaper staff?  The events of the past weeks say they did not.  Was the newspaper relying on the police and the government to protect them from any repercussions of their right to free speech?

The umbrella of free speech seems to allow for a range of behaviors and beliefs.  Unfortunately not all of the expression of free speech brings about actions that could be considered positive.  The umbrella of freedom allows for expression of a wide range of opinions/beliefs.  Unfortunately these opinions/beliefs can be hateful and disrespectful of others.  Free speech opinions can promote conflict.  Somewhere throughout our history as human beings, we've come to the conclusion that we can say whatever we want no matter who may be offended by our statements and beliefs.  This seems to be a theory of "the freedom to create conflict, confusion, and hatred".  We express opinions simply because we can.

Maybe it is best to not always say what we want or to express an opinion?  In the case of the Paris newspaper, they knew that a segment of the population felt it was sacrilegious to draw images of the prophet Muhammad in a cartoon.  But for some reason they felt obliged to do so and accept the consequences of their actions.  What benefit did the newspaper create by drawing the images of Muhammad?  What was improved?  What was the point of drawing the images? How was the world made better by drawing the images?

You often hear about people who have their buttons pushed.  That means to provoke a reaction a person knows what to say and what to do to someone else.  Well, if someone asks you not to do something, and you do it anyway why be surprised at what happens when you ignore their request?  Not everyone is going to react peacefully to a confrontation of beliefs.  Throughout history are many examples of where violence has resulted due to a clash of beliefs.  Some people will react violently to how someone else exercises freedom of speech.

We can't hide behind the free speech banner to justify all of our actions.  At times we need to pause and think.  Yes, we have the freedom to say what we want.  But, if we do express opinions without thinking of the repercussions, accept the consequences.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Protests in 2014 vs 1775

A writer writes!

In the latter part of the 17th century, colonists in what was to become these United States of America, angrily marched and protested.  Was the subject of their protest the shooting of a colonist by the British army?  No, the issue involved new taxes being established on a variety of goods the colonists used.  At some of these protests,  colonists were shot and killed by British soldiers. Soldiers who presumably feared for their lives.  More and more protests occurred against the unilateral taxation policies imposed upon the colonists.

Some 250 years later, world wide protests are occurring over the choke hold murder in New York City, and the shooting death of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri this past August.  In both cases the "authority" of the police was found to support the actions that resulted in the death of African American men.

Those who don't understand why people are protesting need to just look back through history and ask the question why were the protests by the colonists so valid?  Those protests helped to launch the American Revolution and paved the way for your existence today.  It was a time when the colonists became tired of being taken advantage of by a ruling authority far away.  The colonists were tired of not being represented and their voice heard.

Now in the year 2015, people are tired of hearing about unarmed people being killed just because police feared for their lives or because the police have the authority to use deadly force against other people.  People are rebelling against the view that authority has the right to do whatever it wants without any consequences.  Protests are part of the history of these United States of America.   Just as outrage over being taxed mattered to the colonists, so too does it matter that African American men are being killed and no one held accountable for those acts.  Let the protests continue.