Friday, December 26, 2014

"Festivus" at the Firehouse . . .

A humble little sign saying "Happy Birthday Jesus. We love you" at the Shepherd Place firehouse in Utica, NY, received a lot of national attention last week when the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained about it and threatened legal action.  For the most part, FFRF's complaint and threats went over like a lead balloon judging from the on-line comments posted on the multiple renditions of the story that could be found --  a public relations nightmare for those who wish to remove religion from the public square -- both nationally, but especially in Utica .

Utica, after all, has a long tradition of being a "melting pot" -- a place where people of different races, ethnicities, and  religions are welcomed -- a place where the stirring incantation of the call to prayer each Friday from the new mosque next to City Hall  has become as familiar as the noontime chiming of traditional Christian hymns from Grace Episcopal Church or the noontime factory whistle.

The  "melting pot" works in Utica because its diverse groups of people tolerate and respect each others' sensibilities and traditions  -- including respect for the dominant culture.  How could it be a "melting pot" otherwise?   Respect for the dominant culture -- or lack of it -- explains why a new mosque in Utica raised nary an eyebrow while one proposed for New York City created a firestorm of controversy.  

Context is the key to understanding everything.

Now, a new tactic is being tried per this story out of the O-D: Festivus group celebrates outside fire station.  The corner of Shepherd Place and Sunset Avenue would seem to be an unlikely place to "celebrate" "feats of strength" and "airing of grievances" unless the celebration is not really a celebration, but, rather, a protest against that humble little "Happy Birthday Jesus" sign.

This was no spontaneous "celebration." It was advertised in the local paper the day before, and in the Syracuse paper on the day of.  The organizer is a Utica College adjunct who has political connections and has mobilized activists.

There is nothing wrong with organization and mobilization.  Free speech is valued. . .   But what are they promoting? 

Although these folks speak in inclusive terms about Utica's amazing diversity and not "bringing any one group down, but it’s about bringing everybody up," if they get what they ask for what will be achieved?
The Festivus group, meanwhile, is calling for other local religions to request the fire department post signs representing their faiths to foster feelings of unity and togetherness in the city during the holiday season.
If the fire department received such calls, what would be the response?  Post other signs? Remove the original sign? Ignore the calls?

Posting other signs would dilute and confuse the firefighters' simple message about the meaning of Christmas. . . . A victory for anti-Christians.

Removing the sign would be a victory for those who would remove religion from the public square altogether.

Ignoring calls would make other groups feel slighted or discriminated against. . . . A victory for those who would exploit our differences.

Utica,  the "Town that Loves Refugees," needs no group of activists to "foster feelings of unity and togetherness."  Far from "bringing everybody up,"  the "Festivus"  group's tactics would undo Utica by shutting off or confusing certain messages while setting groups of people against each other.

True to their "live and let live" nature,  Uticans ignored the Festivus' call -- this time.  But those who would divide us for political gain, though few in number, are strategically located, highly organized, and know how to use the media.    

Perhaps this is what political 'science' is all about . . .  right, professor?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Celebrating Nonsense . . .

Oneida County "celebrates" the One Millionth Gallon of jet fuel sold at Griffiss "International" Airport with a big press release.

Does this mean that the Airport is finally self-sustaining?  . . . . I didn't think so.

The number of "operations" at the airport continues to fall.  The only reason O.C. did so "well" in the fuel department is due to military -- i.e., government -- flights.

But how "well" did we do?  As of 12/11/14 OC took in $84,473.46 . . . just about what we are paying the new airport commissioner.

Perhaps O. C.  celebrates this "non-event" to distract from the fact that O. C. has to chase down Mid-Air to collect $700,000 it is owed.

What nonsense!

Monday, December 08, 2014

NYS Single Payer: No Choice, No Jobs . . .

From the Rochester D&C: Supporters call for universal healthcare plan in NY .

The proposal is to replace private health insurance with New York State Health Insurance -- insurance without premiums, deductibles, co-pays, etc.

No one likes dealing with premiums, deductibles and co-pays!  Health care should be Free!!  It is a "Basic Human Right" -- No?

It is easy to make promises that sound good . . . it is quite something else to deliver on them.

For some politicians, the fact that insurance companies make a "profit" on providing a "basic human right" is downright wrong . . . and they intend to fix the situation by replacing the health insurance companies with government. [Never mind the fact that NYS heavily taxes this "basic human right" in hidden ways.]

"Free" health care ultimately has to be paid for.  With a "single payer" system in New York, the "government" becomes the payer . . . You can surmise where the government will get the money from.  Who pays ultimately will be determined by  . . . politics. Do you trust NYS politics?

If it is "free" healthcare,  you will pretty much have to settle for the health care you are given. "Beggers can't be choosers" we used to say . . . If the government is doing the paying then the government will determine what health care you are allowed.  What you get will ultimately be determined by . . . politics. Again, do you trust NYS politics?

And if the government is the sole payer, the pay of the people working in the health care system will ultimately be determined by . . . WHAT?  And if the healthcare workers don't like their pay, then what happens?

Frankly, I do not want politics -- especially NYS politics -- determining who pays for my health care, what my health care provider is paid, and what health care I will be allowed to receive.

But there are a couple other issues here, perhaps even bigger . . .

Insurance companies compete with each other for your business.  If you do not like the service you get from one, you can choose to do business with another.  If NYS politics makes the government your insurance company, if you don't like the service, where will you go?  YOU WILL HAVE NO CHOICE to go elsewhere for your insurance unless you move elsewhere.   

But why stop with health insurance?  Why not Workers' Comp. insurance? It's not that different.  Or auto insurance?  Or life insurance? Or homeowners?  Etc. Etc. If NYS politicians can go after health insurers, they can go after the whole insurance sector.

Insurance companies are big employers in New York,  including ones employing many in this area. We've seen what NYS politicians have done to the arms businesses in New York because they don't like guns.

It looks like the insurance sector is next.