Archive for October, 2021

The Underlying Myth Of Paid Family Leave

October 30, 2021

            The demise of paid family leave within the framework of the barebones Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill reveals some of the myths surrounding this issue. The paid media journalists are mostly focused on the broad scale economics and political ramifications of its inclusion/exclusion. Generalizations are made as to who will benefit, and who resists its inclusion. But the real myth of caregiving, and the myth of how it works within the everyday of American healthcare, is not investigated. For many in Newark, reliance on Licking Memorial Health Systems is a default position – driving out of town is time consuming and costly. Besides, for many outpatient procedures, it requires someone to drive you there and back. In other words, it requires a caregiver. And that is where the myth comes in. So “what else is new,” you say, “that is precisely what the conversation re: paid family leave is about?” And so the myth is discretely formatted and grounds the “conversation.” In an article from 2014 (Singles nation: why Americans are turning away from marriage) WNYC cites Bureau of Labor statistics showing 50.2% of Americans to be single. A Sept. 2020 Pew Research finding showed that 31% of those over 18 are not married, living with a partner or in a committed romantic relationship. The recent 2021 US Census shows that 45.5% of those over 18 years old are unmarried. The myth that is not assailed within the “conversation” (and that grounds it while framing it) is that of the assumed existence of a caregiver to begin with. The health care “system” (as in the name “Licking Memorial Health Systems”) takes that (existence of a caregiver) for granted, assumes it, even practically requires it (or that its services be purchased). Yet, for any of one third to one half of Americans, the existence of a caregiver within their day to day life is not a given. It only goes to show how much to the ideological right our “conversation” has centered itself when the issue of “caregiver’ is grounded in a family situation (for which it is named), all the while upwards of one half of Americans live their everyday lives not exactly within such a context. Hence the resistance to the inclusion of Paid Family Leave within the reconciliation bill is precisely from the health care system which stands to lose part of its market share on the realignment of the provision of caregivers, that the system’s services require as well as commercially provide. Hence its demise has been met with a mostly “does not apply to me” shrug by almost half of Americans.

Punch And Judy 2021

October 25, 2021

            In a news exclusive, Rolling Stone headlined: “Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff” (Hunter Walker, 10-24-21). The article swirls around the accounts of two anonymous individuals involved with the planning and organizing of rallies and events prior to the grand finale of January 6. The members of congress included “Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)” as well as Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Walker reports that in an email to Rolling Stone “Nick Dyer, who is Greene’s communications director, said she was solely involved in planning to object to the electoral certification on the House floor.” “Dyer also suggested the public is far more concerned with issues occurring under President Joe Biden than they are with what happened in January. “No one cares about Jan. 6 when gas prices are skyrocketing, grocery store shelves are empty, unemployment is skyrocketing, businesses are going bankrupt, our border is being invaded, children are forced to wear masks, vaccine mandates are getting workers fired, and 13 members of our military are murdered by the Taliban and Americans are left stranded in Afghanistan,” Dyer wrote.” Analysis finds that to be a pretty gloom and doom, negative and dire to say the least, assessment of America today. Shelves were empty, unemployment was skyrocketing and businesses were going bankrupt in 2020 when Biden wasn’t President. Just trying to steer the conversation like Youngkin is doing with school board controversies in Virginia? Perhaps. But Analysis is intrigued by the description of America presented by Dyer, not in the strategies of rhetoric. What if it is true? If it were true, one would expect the repercussions to be pervasive, across the board. September 2021 unemployment rate was at 4.8%, the lowest since before the pandemic. Supply chain issues are causing shelves to be emptied. Economist point to the pent up demand creating a tsunami of buying as one of the factors involved with this gap (and our methodology is as old as the extinct Sears Roebuck catalogue – we order it and expect it to arrive on demand). As for businesses going bankrupt, as of this writing the S&P was at 35,700. It has and continues to rise. In the past that would be an indicator of confidence in the ability to make money in America. But wait, didn’t we just assume that Dyer’s description of America was true? If the dire assessment is so, that conditions in America suck, then what creates the rising value of stock certificates, continuously increasing the wealth of the 1% who own most of it? Analysis finds a disjunct between what Dyer says (as spokesman for MTG) and what the financial wealth actually being made and determined says. Analysis finds that, true or false, Dyer is trying to steer the conversation (and have MTG benefit from the fear and anxiety it creates). But Analysis also finds that, true or false, the controversy and strife caused by “the conversation” has not dampened the ability of the wealthy to make more money from their money. It seems that the greater the chaos and crisis, the more opportunity there is to reap financial reward for those not caught in the fray. Analysis finds it all to be an obverse Punch and Judy Show, where the puppet masters are heartily enjoying (and benefitting from) the spectacle of their audience pulling each other’s strings while beating themselves senseless.

Didactic Interlude

October 10, 2021

            This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recognized two journalists, Dmitry Muretov and Maria Ressa, “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace” No coincidence that here, in the polarized politics of the US of A, journalists are the favored whipping boy of diverse ideologies. Here, in central Ohio, journalism is essentially whatever the Gannett corporation dictates it should be, retaining ownership of just about all the small town papers as well as the Columbus Dispatch (and many more outside the state’s center). How does all this square up — ”the precondition for democracy,” the media being the source of the demise of democracy, and the monopoly on what locals are privy to see and know about their small towns? Today’s Newark Advocate provides some insights as to how this is. The headline “Newark south end residents say they live in fear in their neighborhood” (Kent Mallett, 10-10-21) is pretty sensational. It effectively positions the reader’s response. The extensive article starts off with “South end Newark residents say they live in fear of people they see on the streets who may be on drugs or struggling with mental health issues, probably homeless, and possibly stealing from the area.” It then transitions to being about a “problem” (the source of the fear), and what is being done about it (the community’s response). This then transitions into how the problem is being dealt with by the city (the community) which covers police and carceral services as well as non city behavioral health resources. Mayor Jeff Hall, who is on record as being opposed to spending any city resources to address the problem, is quoted by Mallett: “Mayor Jeff Hall told the residents, “I’m sorry that’s going on in your neighborhood. It is a complicated issue, it’s not an easy one to fix, but that doesn’t mean we ignore it. We’ll have discussion. When you come in, we talk about it, so it’s not to deaf ears, trust me, we do talk about it.”” The bulk of the article bemoans a lack of police resources, the Covid challenge at the County jail, and the hope for a new outreach program through Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio. Interwoven throughout the reporting is the underlying tacit understanding that homelessness, and the homeless, are “the problem” (for if they had a residence they wouldn’t be generating fear throughout the neighborhood). “It is a complicated issue.” (Newark Mayor Jeff Hall) Really? If your gas gauge shows empty, you fill up with gas to solve the problem. Speaking of which, the city promoted the destruction of perfectly sound, inhabitable community housing stock for the sake of the development of an urban truck stop on N 21st street (with no provisions for replacement). Mallett does let this slip (just barely) with: “The federal moratorium on evictions ended recently, and Licking County evictions have increased from 136 in the first quarter of the year to 158 in the second quarter to 219 in the third quarter.” But this is followed up by a one line nod to a grassroots effort to address this debacle. Analysis finds the bulk of the article to perpetuate the misinformation that homelessness and the homeless are “the problem” not able to be solved by city government resources. It furthers the misconception that evictions, as well as being without a house, are inextricably linked with criminality, mental health, and a lack of moral compass (aka personal responsibility). “It is a complicated issue.” (Mayor Jeff Hall) Bull shit. Other cities, both here in the US of A as well as abroad, have dealt with it through providing housing for those without any. In Newark the misinformation molding the perception of those finding themselves without a house is reproduced and perpetuated by a monopolistic news journalism which bolsters the ideological polarity that undermines “the precondition for democracy.” Nowhere in Mallett’s report was any alternative view, approach or outlook on the matter of housing those without a house presented. Across the US of A (as well as elsewhere) the problem is being addressed and met. Why not here?