Friday January 18, 2013 - 01:31:00 PM

The US has a deficit problem. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that, if the US maintains the current tax code, we will only produce annual revenue of 18 percent of gross domestic product. Thus running annual budget deficits of $800 billion. The bipartisan 2010 Simpson-Bowles Commission recommended that we deal with this imbalance by raising additional revenue of $2.2 trillion over the next ten years. We must increase taxes. -more-


By Conn Hallinan
Thursday January 17, 2013 - 04:53:00 PM

“It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts”

Charlie Marlow from Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’

The vision that Conrad’s character Marlow describes is of a French frigate firing broadsides into a vast African jungle, in essence, bombarding a continent. That image came to mind this week when French Mirages and helicopter gunships went into action against a motley army of Islamic insurgents in Mali.

That there is a surge of instability in that land-locked and largely desert country should hardly come as a surprise to the French: they and their allies are largely the cause.

And they were warned. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Being Defined by the Illness, or Not

By Jack Bragen
Thursday January 17, 2013 - 10:51:00 PM

Being defined by a negative event is an unhappy thing. When major events take place, they seem to have a shaping influence on our lives, and this includes an effect on a person's day-to-day thoughts.

When receiving treatment in the mental health system, everything we do has the "mentally ill person" stamp on it. Our housing could be a unit set aside for a person with mental illness; our job could be a volunteer job or could be a "job" which has been provided by the mental health treatment system. The schedule we live on is filled with appointments connected to our mental illness; psychiatry and therapy appointments. We must continuously get our medications filled at the pharmacy. Thus, a person with mental illness often isn't allowed to forget for a moment that we are "a mental health consumer." -more-

SENIOR POWER: Waiting to Die

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday January 17, 2013 - 10:12:00 PM

One in four Israeli seniors cannot afford heating. Fuel bills for English elderly have doubled. Meanwhile, in Berkeley, California, senior power has become a trite phrase for numerous low-income renters who must resort to space heaters, heating pads, open oven-doors, and electric and emotional overloads. Old people who do not have families or whose primary language is not English are especially disadvantaged. Nighttime is the worst.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, sixty-two year old Dr. Rowan Williams, believes that society “can’t wait to get old people off our hands.” Last month he warned that the elderly could make a massive contribution, but many people are simply waiting for them to die. “[It is an] undoubted fact that we are becoming dangerously used to speaking and thinking of ‘an ageing population’ as a problem, a burden on public purse and private resources alike.”

In his final House of Lords speech, Williams said that too many older people are being tolerated rather than valued. The extremes of human life—childhood and old age—are sidelined because of an eccentric idea that only those in the so-called prime of life can contribute. Because families are becoming more scattered as people move to different areas, some young people are growing up with little contact with older people. The tendency to view older people as dependents or as problems is the root cause of neglect and abuse. Older people are routinely seen as passive and dependents instead of as assets. “We must recognize that it is assumptions about the basically passive character of the older population that foster attitudes of contempt and exasperation and ultimately create a climate in which abuse occurs.” He called for the Government to consider introducing a commissioner for older people, similar to the system in Wales. -more-