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Aging gracefully, one skin-tag at a time

August 16, 2013

Aging gracefully, one skin-tag at a time

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February 18, 2018

Pro vs Con vs Dialogue [FINAL]

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Offal Oratory….

February 8, 2018

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made an eight-hour speech the other day to protest Speaker Paul Ryan’s stance of the day in the ongoing Congressional Intramural Urinating face-off. Yah, well, did she SAY anything…..?

I mean, supporters point out that she did the whole thing without a bathroom break, so clearly she was full of it…

I knew that.

I knew that…

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Me Too, The Movie…

January 24, 2018

NiceButt [FINAL]

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The Blizzard of 2018…

January 5, 2018

Blizzard [1]_004

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Life on one wheel…

December 11, 2017

OldBiker_Rear [1]_001

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Safety versus Liberty…

November 19, 2017

…and Ben Franklin’s maxim….


It could be said that action on the part of Congress when a problem is evident is certainly preferable to inaction.

Not necessarily.

There are factors to consider other than inertia, such as timing and the definition of the problem to be addressed. When a response is born of emotion rather than reason, the potential for simply changing deck chairs on the Titanic is increased.

This concern has been mentioned by some public officials in the wake of the two recent tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas. Nevertheless, Congress evidently feels compelled to answer the impassioned calls for that body to prove itself to be a viable life form rather than a petrified relic of one long gone. Whether their Show and Tell demonstration of bipartisanship and measurable vital signs purportedly evidenced in their pending legislation “to improve background checks for gun sales”, called the “Fix NICS Act” (NICS is the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is proof of measurable vital signs or not remains to be seen.

I’m not inclined to see more than a basic Show and Tell skit at this point, and my raised eyebrow suggests an element of expectation that the action will merely upgrade and redecorate an existing problem rather than actually resolve it. Furthermore, the phrase “to improve background checks for gun sales” can be interpreted to mean a great number of things…or nothing at all.

The recent shooting incidents generated immediate calls for “gun control”, of course, but also stimulated some with functional frontal lobes to point out that we already have appropriate laws that just aren’t being carried out very well. That would have had no bearing on the Las Vegas massacre but could most likely have prevented the Sutherland Springs, Texas incident. In any event, I am compelled to withhold my trust in Congress taking any substantive action at such an early date with little or no discussion. Besides, the banners they are flying tout the features of bipartisanism, and the nativity of “new” legislation with no effort to examine and fix the existing regulations wherein specific shortcomings have already been readily identified. In their haste to react rather than to intelligently respond, the only apparent “remedy” they seem to have come up with would be the application of leverage (read: “arm twisting”), which might enhance government’s sense of power and control but would be unlikely to impact the underlying problems one whit

My interest in these points stem, at least in part, from my twenty five years with a hospital based behavioral health department prior to retirement. I am familiar with the privacy aspects of the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability Act) of 1996 and other state and federal regulations enacted to protect the confidentiality of mental health and substance abuse patients.

During my years of direct contact with psychiatric patients, some voluntary, some committed by a judge, and both residential and outpatient substance abuse patients, I saw people from all walks of life, from the most inadequate and broken to most educated and successful. I remember a time when staff members were discussing rumblings at the time of the possible creation of regulations mandating the release of confidential records to government data bases or agencies. It sounded like a bad idea then, and it still does.

There are differences between the chronically ill person with a major psychiatric diagnosis such as paranoid schizophrenia suffering a crisis and the middle age school teacher who experiences a temporary decompensation following a family tragedy. None seek treatment because it seems like a fun thing to do on a Tuesday afternoon. As far as sensitive, personal medical records are concerned, there are procedures already in place by which certain information can be discussed regarding selected patients, with specified referral agencies or individuals, under certain circumstances. Any other exchange or release of information must be ordered through the court process. Confidentiality is important not only from a legal standpoint but even more importantly it can be a significant treatment issue affecting stabilization and recovery.

Such details aren’t the focus of people concerned with complying with regulations about providing pertinent information to the FBI and NICS, but they should be a consideration, and they certainly should be a focus of private citizens, whether they are gun owners or not. Any one of us, or a family member, may someday need some sort of psychotherapy or short term hospitalization, perhaps in response some overwhelming life event or a medically induced condition. The distribution of sensitive personal information should not be taken lightly, especially in this time of the Technological Revolution and Digital Era, when traditional personal boundaries and privacy seem to be disregarded as archaisms, and may on occasion be deemed expendable in the interest of convenience

Governments, by nature, become progressively intrusive if not constrained by law, especially when the people become complacent. It is no surprise then that our own government is more intrusive than it was shortly after its formation. Similarly, people, by nature, will tend to become complacent when their freedom is not under direct threat and life is generally good.

Along those lines, both conditions having been met, our federal government has acquired a disturbing habit of acting in its own interests rather than in those of the people by imposing regulations on the states and on individuals that are either unaffordable or not wanted in the first place, or both. It then lovingly creates subsidies or some other instrument to help pay for compliance for as long as the people and/or states march in step. Any wavering from the prescribed path or failure to appropriately comply with the mandate may threaten loss of the subsidies and whatever other consequences might apply to conditions of noncompliance.

In the case of “encouraging” states to fork over the required data, the federal government has been stockpiling leverage for decades and has no qualms about using it to twist arms and get what it wants.

The parallels to tactics used by small time drug dealers have not gone unnoticed: create a dependency and then provide relief in exchange for certain conditions being met.

I agree that prohibiting certain individuals from possessing firearms makes sense, but a generic reference to “mental health” patients covers a great deal more territory than the general public understands. Different patients present different strengths, weaknesses, liabilities and potentials. My experience, and common sense, tell me that a “one size fits all” approach here would be like draining the ocean to catch a fish. Properly followed and carried out, there is no reason existing rules would not be adequate. Instead of just throwing new rules on top of ones that aren’t working, at great cost but questionable benefit to the innocent, find out why existing rules aren’t working and fix that.

 

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The Risk of Civil Unrest…

November 15, 2017

is the Price of Liberty….

While it doesn’t always appear as such, when the world is in turmoil with chaos and uncertainty reigning supreme, citizens and government become more attentive to working in their own best interests. That doesn’t necessarily translate to them working in each other’s best interest. We are living in such a time right now.

It’s not the first time. In fact, we have a form of government today that was built from the ashes of civil unrest more than 240 years ago and whose founders intentionally structured it to allow for civil unrest. Considering the context of the day, it made great sense to protect the ability of the people to protest and confront the excesses and missteps of their government, and this was recognized as being in the best interests of both that government and the people alike.

Human nature being what it is, however, whenever civil unrest has occurred between then and now, that very government has responded “in its own best interests” by adding restrictions to limit the potential for civil unrest in the future.

It is no paradox that if our form of government is to survive, it must not only allow for the potential of civil unrest, that potential and all of the risk it entails must be embraced and defended. In any civilized society, of course, there must be certain parameters drawn by the people around their own behaviors in order to strike a balance between the chaos of unrestricted civil unrest and the lifelessness of unrestricted order.

Unfortunately, in part because of the complacency of the people and in part because of the natural tendency of governments to take on lives of their own when permitted to do so, that balance has begun to list precipitously to port, with the government claiming to act in the best interests of the people, while, actually seeing to its own interests instead. Such a claim, by definition, is oxymoronic.

 

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