Ed Heath | Pittsburgh City Paper

Ed Heath 
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Re: “Op-Ed: Ruth Ann Dailey explains why you can't have nice things

I have to say, I think it might well be reasonable to ask the broad question, why is the ACA saying that contraceptives have to be paid for by health insurance for non-medical reasons? I mean, I know there are medical reasons to prescribe the pill (and I am assuming that the pill is the contraceptive we are talking about, not the almost disappeared diaphragm), but I don't think "so I don't have kids" is one of them. The inclusion of contraception as something health insurance and doctors must cover and prescribe seems like social policy to me.

But the Catholic church objecting to covering/providing contraception on religious grounds does strike me as major league hypocrisy. And Ruth Ann suggesting that Republicans should (as they are doing) make this an election issue is doubly hypocritical. If the church is so concerned with life, where were they when we attacked Iraq by choice, with flimsy justifications that never panned out? And how concerned are Republicans about freedom of religion, given their stance on Muslims building new Mosques?

Let's be clear, there are several types of contraception available including the afore mentioned diaphragm and of course condoms that can be purchased cheaply from every drug store and grocery store in the country (as far as I know).In denying coverage for the pill, the Catholic Church is simply punishing poor and middle income unmarried and married women who work at Catholic hospitals and Universities, for what evidently the Church considers promiscuity. They are denying them access to a form of contraception women can control, is easy to use, effective, and in this context inexpensive. In the real world, women may face a situation where the man they are "with", husband or otherwise, may choose not to use a condom, or may use it badly. That is where forbidding access to the pill can have a disastrous effect. This may be a religious issue for Catholics, but in this situation it is Catholics enforcing their religion on their employees (no matter what the religion of the employee might be). That makes it a social issue.

Again, I am not sure the ACA ought to mandate coverage of the Pill for reasons other than to treat a medical condition. But if that policy survives any legal challenge, then I am with Potter, there should be no religious exemption from this policy. Especially for the Catholics, who, I think everyone must admit, have a less than stellar record on all sorts of moral issues.

2 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Ed Heath on 02/16/2012 at 1:22 PM

Re: “Occupy Pittsburgh weighs policy on financial donations

I have to say the Occupy movements are absolutely fascinating from a political science point of view. And that is not to be condescending, I find the Occupy movements very admirable in their attempt to take some sort of direct action since politics in general and specifically in DC and Harrisburg seem at best stuck and at worst taken over by the interests of the 1%.

There are several dynamics in play here. It's not clear to me whether absolute consensus is required for decisions (some or all) at some or all of the Occupy movements, and whether that means the decisions truly reflect the will of the crowd or whether some people are a) truly compromising in the interests of getting something done, b) just going along or c) are (feel) forced to go along. In terms of participatory democracy, this is a very interesting attempt to approach the issues of inclusion versus streaming decisions for efficiency's sake. This post points out that personalities still play, for better or worse, a major role in this new political process (as opposed to a dispassionate examination of issues). On the other hand, how much does frustration with the conventional political process factor into frustration in the Occupy movements?

And there is a larger dynamic here as well. There have been tent towns before in our history. There were "Hoovervile"s, including most interestingly an encampment of World War I veterans protesting their lack of a bonus following the war (the "Bonus Army"). Some people thought they were communists and criminals (sound familiar?). Hoover ordered them forcibly removed, although during the process he tried to stop the removal, but Douglas MacArthur (!) continued, fearing a possible communist revolution. The Bonus Army was eventually successful (years and another encampment later) in getting a bonus, over the veto of FDR.

The 99 percent'ers face a different social and cultural situation today. We have unprecedented access to each other, and to social and cultural media (voting on Dancing with the Stars and Idol and the ability for a clever tweet, youtube or even blog post to go viral). Yet our access to our elected political "representatives" seems more remote than ever, since we (as 99% individuals) can not get their attention with our small donations. Clearly, especially in this age of instant communications, the Occupy movement is capturing our attention. Can they hold it, in the face of all the ADD causing media that is competing with them.

The Occupy movements now have the opportunity to get funded instantly, to enable them to stay longer where they are (local government and, in our case, Mellon permitting). We have the technology to enable a blind man to survive climbing Mt Everest, or keep protestors alive and unharmed in a park through the winter (for better or worse). Will the Occupy movements allow (some of) the rest of the country to help them easily? Just the latest chapter in this ongoing saga.

Competing with a third Cain harassment victim and the water skiing squirrel (SQUIRREL!).

Posted by Ed Heath on 11/03/2011 at 1:37 PM

Re: “What did Mellon do to deserve an occupation? Quite a bit, maybe

Blankets with smallpox?

Posted by Ed Heath on 10/14/2011 at 5:32 PM

Re: “Occupy Pittsburgh takes another step

Joe Wold, first of all, I will say I hate the expression "we are the 99%". I would much prefer "we are the 80%", which is roughly where the income divides between over and under $100,000 (actually right around 84% in 2003, so probably now 80%).

Second, I have been interested in politics for the last 35 years and I studied political science and economics in school (although I don't work in it). I can comment reasonably intelligently about policy. But the people you are complaining about, many if not most (I suspect most) do not have a background in politics. Maybe they made calls or knocked on doors for Obama, but that's almost certainly the extent of it. They know that their friends, if not themselves have had trouble keeping or getting a job, at all ages and stages of their careers. They know they work hard, but year after year their companies have been telling them that the companies can not afford to give them raises, or the raises are one or two percent. They look at the news and see Wall Street banks and financial companies getting billion dollar bailouts, and no executives going to jail. Yeah, it would be nice if the protesters had a degree in economics, and could call for specific policies. But a lot of these people are just ordinary people, many of them the 70% that don't follow the news. I doubt more than one in ten is a communist (if that), and calling them "communards" says a lot more about you than about them.

Third, if you go to the Occupy Pittsburgh web page, you will see they really have *too many* policy complaints, many of them unrealistic in my opinion. But a paucity of positions is not one of their problems. But go ahead and play the stereotype game.

Fourth, tell me about Europe. Yep, there is a financial crisis caused to a considerable extent by having so many nations share the Euro, and yep Greece and Spain and Ireland are among those in the worst shape. But I believe every single European nation has some form of universal healthcare, from Germany to Greece, and for every country it is a source of economic strength. They tax individuals at higher levels than we do, yet in the aggregate these are supposedly some of the happiest nations on earth (maybe the rich are miserable, should Europe value them more?). Europe may have lower tax rates for corporations, but I doubt any given European would let an Exxon pay zero taxes and receive billion dollar subsidies. And actually some countries in Europe do a good job of even providing free college for their citizens.

Finally, you seriously slam an unemployed single mom with a degree in graphic design just because she is a single mom with a degree in graphic design? Who exactly do *you* blame for the economic downturn? Obama? Did Obama cause Lehman Brothers to go bankrupt? Why exactly is demand down right now?

Posted by Ed Heath on 10/09/2011 at 4:06 PM

Re: “Sympathy for the Blue Dog

There was a documentary made in the (I believe) the seventies about some pollution legislation involving cars. I remember that a Florida representative (his name escapes me in the thirty years since I saw the film) was seen as championing the legislation, while John Dingell of Michigan opposed it. What makes it relevant is that Doug Walgren, former (relatively liberal) Democrat of Mt Lebanon, was immortalized in the film as a committee member who flipped from supporting the bill to either opposing or abstaining, due to pressure from (as I recall) "used car dealerships" in his district (curse you, Washington Road).

Both Atlmire and Obama have been disappointing Democrats. They have both pursued policies far more conservative than anyone expected and Democrats are comfortable with, yet neither has particularly won any sort of recognition or even a reduction in attacks from Republicans. Of course, Democrats in both Altmire's district and nationally really have no alternative, and even choosing to protest by not voting means that we will get some far worse Republican in the White House. Grumble.

Posted by Ed Heath on 09/23/2011 at 12:24 PM

Re: “Bad Bargain

I sympathize with Doyle, but I think the two most important components in politics among the voters are the wealthy, who finance the business, and the easily led, who will vote based on who presents the simplest yet scariest easy to digest ideas.

And based on their successes so far, the Republicans will hold whatever hostage to keep the tax cuts for the wealthy in place for at least another year, if not make permanent. Maybe they will hold unemployment compensation extensions hostage like they did last December.

Posted by Ed Heath on 08/12/2011 at 2:54 PM

Re: “Bike-sharing advocates peddle their vision in Market Square

Creating a bike friendly community requires a lot of public support, because to make it work drivers might have to make some sacrifices in order for urban bike riding to work. Ultimately I think a mixed bike, bus and car transportation environment maximizes benefits for the whole of a community, but drivers have to put up with fewer lanes for cars in order to get lass crowded (car-wise) streets.

I have to admit I am a little baffled by this bike sharing idea. It makes sense (to me) for a college campus, where you could roll out of bed, grab a bike by your dorm, take it to your classes and dining halls, and drop it off back at your dorm when you are finished. CMU tried it with free bikes, which all disappeared within a few weeks.

Anyway, I am confused by who would use the bikes downtown. They wouldn't be useful for shopping, bikes can't carry that much. I suppose tourists might use them, but since we are talking about a mile (and riding downtown dodging cars), walking seems like a better option.

Still, it's nice to see people talking about using bikes fro transportation.

Posted by Ed Heath on 06/12/2011 at 9:43 AM

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