To Be Constitutional or not to be?

We have discussed before how legislation often doesn’t mean what it appears to mean. And it garners support for what people assume that it means based on its title; case in point, Georgia State Senator Josh McKoon’s ‘Religious Freedom” bill. To see it named such a title, most who don’t bother to read it or at least do minimal research on what it is would assume it’s to protect religious freedom.

At first glance, it is, that is until one starts looking into the wording of the bill. The first question that comes to mind is why would we need this bill if our religious freedom is protected in the bill of rights? Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. What the new law does is allow people to discriminate against other people using religious freedom as an excuse. It does not, however address the fact that by doing so, it denies the victims it creates THEIR freedoms. Not just religious but others as well. The exact wording of the law can be found here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20152016/SB/129 .

Let’s take a closer look what the act says. The first section describes that it’s an amendment to title 50 of the Georgia code. The meaning of that is simple. It’s an amendment to change what title 50 says….language we’re use to in the Constitution. So that part is easy. Then it goes on to say what its intent and purpose is. First, to preserve religious freedom; doesn’t the Constitution of the United States do that? So this act is not needed for that. Then it goes on to say ‘to provide for legislative findings and purposes” and my first question there is what findings and what purposes? If I had to guess I’d say to give support for allowing for something title 50 does not allow for. Essentially, it will be determined by any lawyer that can justify any given case.

As we go further, that will become clear. “To provide granting of relief” is likely interpreted as a relief of a burden. The definition of said burden is left undefined so that it can be interpreted widely. This was done intentionally. They WANT it to be interpreted widely so as to allow for it to be applied to anything and everything they want to use it for, thereby gutting the laws that prohibit what they are working to allow for. “To provide for definitions” leaves it open for the definitions of anything they want it to apply to, case specific…again leaving it wide open to interpretation. “To provide for short title” heaven knows what that means. The other parts of this law are scary enough to make it dangerous without interpreting that short piece. “To provide an effective date” means just what it says probably, but what effective date? And how can that be used? These are questions we have to ask because any law and its language are subject to interpretation and often are interpreted in such a way as to benefit whoever has the most money to pay for its interpretation in their favor. “To repeal conflicting laws”…..WHOA….WHAT? What laws? Any law that conflicts with the purposes this law is intended to support? Here is where the big problems begin. We’ll continue with that further in. Finally on this statement of purposes of this act, “and for other purposes”, another one of those wide open statements intended to allow for wide interpretation. It could be used for any number of things.

The meat of this law is that one small portion of the first paragraph which can also be found in the last line of the act. This is the whole root and foundation of this act.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex or ethnic origin. If a business owner believes he is superior to anyone that this law protects, he can claim it’s a “sincerely held religious belief” and render this law null and void, thereby repealing this conflicting law. It also allows for them to discriminate against interracial couples. I know this sounds extreme, but this act allows for such extremism. (Which is pretty much the point in opposing this act) (http://www.dol.gov/dol/aboutdol/history/herman/reports/futurework/conference/staffing/9.7_discrimination.htm) –

Pregnancy Discrimination act of 1978 was intended to amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to included prohibiting discrimination against pregnant women. Under this proposed Act, if an employer decides he doesn’t like the fact that one of his employees is unmarried and pregnant, he can claim it’s against his religion and he cannot employ a woman who is pregnant but not married and fire her, rendering the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 repealed according to the terms of this act. (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/pregnancy.cfm)

This Act would also head off any anti-discrimination legislation that could come in the near future, such as LGBT protections. All they would have to do is claim religious exemption to the new laws and continue to discriminate at will.

This supposed ‘Religious freedom” Act is an abuse in that it allows business owners to deny anyone who works for them their own rights, making the business owners rights prevalent over anyone else’s. Not only that, but it allows them to deny service to anyone they wish to deny and call it against their religion. Think about that for a minute. People own a business and their rights are more important than the rights of the people who work for them. Rich people’s rights are more important than the rights of the middle class and the poor. Isn’t that EXACTLY what the founding fathers were trying to protect us from? Isn’t that part of the oppression that many were escaping when they came to the United States? And consider this; if a person is denying their employee birth control because it’s against the business owner’s religion, isn’t that forcing that employee to conform to the religious beliefs of their employer? Does that not deny the citizen her own rights to religious freedom? So in that sense, how does THIS law protect religious freedom?

And then there is the most important issue. The Grand Poobah (in the words of Fred Flintstone) of all applications of this act. The one for which it was intended; The Affordable Care Act. If there is one thing the rich are pissed about, it’s that the Affordable Care Act forces them to provide decent healthcare options to their employees. Federal law requires them to provide preventive services in EVERY policy and they have to be paid at 100% of the allowed amount. So the cost of these policies is bound to go up because this is better coverage for everyone, right? Actually, no. The cost is contained because if you utilize your preventive care consistently, you will head off any illness that could be seriously costly by catching and treating it early, thereby reducing costs before it even happens. And healthy employees don’t call out sick, but that’s a different blog altogether.

(a) The General Assembly finds and determines that: (1) The framers of the United States Constitution and the people of this state, recognizing free exercise of religion as an inalienable right, secured its protection in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and in Paragraphs III and IV of Section I, Article I of the Constitution of this state, respectively;

Okay, this says the framers of the constitution and the people of the state recognizing the free exercise of religion as an inalienable right. But who determines who is exercising that right? In the first amendment, it says the free exercise thereof but it does not say unless you work for someone of a different religion. It says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or free exercise thereof. Meaning Congress isn’t allowed to make laws respecting one religion over another nor any law restricting the free exercise thereof. It does not make exceptions. Does not this act respect the religion of a business owner over that of his employees and his customers? Does it not also inhibit the free exercise of the religion of those employees or customers in favor of that of the business owner?

Then it goes on to give additional excuses for a need for this law as (2) Laws neutral toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise;

Could be interpreted as laws that prohibit discrimination interfere with religious exercise, therefore they need to be eliminated. Or perhaps any law that was passed to protect people could be used to hurt the people. Isn’t that exactly what this act is doing? Sure looks that way to me.

Then (3) Governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling Justification.

Okay, it’s obvious that they’re calling cost a burden. But how could providing services to a mixed couple or a same sex couple be construed as a burden to religious exercise? It’s obvious now what “other purposes” refers to isn’t it? And the reasons for leaving the law wide open for interpretation is also obvious.

I think I’ve made my point in interpreting the purposes and extreme possibilities of this law evident. Need I go on? Lines 24-42 of the act merely cite cases the writer seems to believe justify the creation of this act in that they allow for similar interpretations of the law. He considers them justification. He then uses discrimination as justification for this law. But his interpretation of discrimination is to claim discrimination against those being prohibited from discrimination. It’s hardly justification to create this law, opening the floodgates to wash the state and any state that follows suit back into the 1960s.

(a) Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section. (b) Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is: (1) In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) The least restrictive means of achieving that compelling governmental interest.

Again, this section is dependent upon the interpretation of the term “substantially burden” which is left wide open to interpretation by the terms of the act. This being said, anyone that can pay more has the potential to swing the judicial interpretation their way. That’s not to say all judges are corrupt but the Supreme Court has shown that some of its members tend to rule in favor of whoever has the ability to pay more or whoever has more financial pull. (Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby) At least one has contradicted himself in his own rulings in order to please the “right side” of the argument. The point in this statement is that this law opens the door for this kind of corruption. Without going too deep into interpretation on this portion of the act, it speaks loudly to me of money, ‘big government’ having too much control and it costing business owners. You know the typical tea party approach to how things work in their world. And I don’t have to express how I feel about that. My blog name says it all on that score.

(c) A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this chapter may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against government.

Relief in this clause of course means relief from the burden of having to treat someone fairly under the law; or relief from following the anti-discrimination laws because they are hurting you in some way. The fact that not enforcing these laws on you because you have a religion you think exempts you from treating people fairly and as human beings is hurting those you’re discriminating against, don’t you think? Business owners want a free pass from enforcement of federal laws based on their religion. How is that fair and balanced?

And then there’s this: In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of this chapter, the court or tribunal may allow the prevailing party, other than government, a reasonable attorney fee as part of costs.

They want you the tax payer to pay the court costs that it takes to gain relief from the burden treating you like an equal human being and using their religion as an excuse for doing so. Heaven forbid a rich man pay a fee to get things ruled in his favor.

My main point is this. Men make laws and give them simple names that encourage the ignorant to support them. By not exploring the meaning of such laws, we do ourselves a disservice. There are likely still many who read this who disagree with my take on it that still have not made the connection that if these laws allow a “Christian company” like Hobby Lobby to deny their employees birth control because they don’t believe in it, that it also means a “Muslim company” could begin to force women to wear burkas or even fire them because a woman’s place is in the home, not in a man’s working world. These laws don’t specifically name Christianity as the definition of religion. So one may assume this is putting God into the laws of this country and its “Christian values” but it’s not that specific. Do you want people of other religions forcing their beliefs on you?

I thought not.

The charges of treason and sedition

treason [tree-zuh n] noun

1. the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign.

2. a violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state.

3. the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.

sedition [si-dish-uh n] noun

1. incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government.

2. any action, especially in speech or writing, promoting such discontent or rebellion.

————————————————————————————————

These words are often thrown around to describe the actions of distrusted and disliked politicians. They are often not serious accusations. They are often thrown around without a full understanding of what they mean. They have been used often over the last two days. The offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign. When one looks at how the Koch Brothers have paid off the politicians who are slowly but surely gutting useful laws protecting consumers (the population at large) by putting their own representatives in government through throwing a hell of a lot of money into political campaigning and lobbying, it appears they are guilty of this action. We went from being a fairly bi-partisan governing body that was fairly evenly split and willing to work together for the good of the country to a broken body with splinters that have made it impossible to get anything done for the good of the general population. The Majority have been hurt by this governing body which refuses to govern. One could conclude that they have effectively overthrown the government by rendering it ineffective. Not surprising that they used hate and fear to garner support for these actions; something they learned from evil men who came before them, the likes of Hitler and Stalin.

A violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state. First, I want to look at one’s sovereign. Also according to the dictionary.com from which I took the definitions above, the word sovereign means ruler, king or someone with supreme authority, power or rank. The office of the president definitely falls into that category. So, who has violated allegiance to the sovereign in this country? It appears that 47 senators did just recently. Given the definition of sovereign, the President of the United States cannot be said not to be the sovereign. The presidency is the highest office in the country and considered the highest rank. So let’s look at ‘violation of allegiance’ for a moment. Allegiance by definition from the same source is primarily the loyalty of a citizen to his or her government or of a subject to his or her sovereign. Again, the word specifically applies to the sovereign.

The first argument I can hear coming to this before any word is spoken is that the Senators swore no allegiance to the president. Whether they did or not is rendered irrelevant when one considers that we all, as grade school students pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands. They swore allegiance to this nation as children; they did so again when they were sworn into public office. One could argue that while they never swore fealty to the President, they swore to uphold the Constitution as a condition of holding their position. In doing so, they swore to do what’s best for the people of this nation who are their employers. And yet over the past 6 years, they have done nothing but obstruct progress in improving the state of the nation. They’ve denied climate change, thereby supporting the poisoning of our environment which puts our health at risk. They’ve denied veterans their health benefits and stood against jobs bills that would help those veterans support their families after their service ended. They’ve sought to force even more pollution on us through the KXL Pipeline which would go over aqueducts that supply millions with clean drinking water. They’ve cut education budgets thereby denying our children a quality education. Each of these actions work against the success of this nation in a multitude of ways; which prompts me ask one glaring question. Just where does their allegiance lie? It’s not with the president; it’s not with this nation or her people. So yes, they have violated their allegiance to their sovereign AND their state.

The betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery. We as a republic vote for our representatives to act on our behalf and in our best interest. It is how a republic is supposed to work. The current congress and the previous one, manipulated by the tea party republicans has been a do-nothing congress. They have passed nothing that would have a significant impact on the success of our nation simply because it had our president’s name on it or had his backing or his signature or endorsement on it. They did so to our detriment. So has there been a betrayal of trust? Absolutely. They betrayed us, we the people of the United States of America. They have kept our nation from becoming much stronger through acting to improve infrastructure and add jobs to our economy. They have stood against raising the minimum wage so that the majority of us are left behind to struggle for our needs and eliminate our ability altogether to be able to afford anything beyond needs. Without that ability, the nation cannot grow. The economy suffers when the average citizen cannot afford to buy anything because it takes all he can make to keep a roof over his head and food on his table. Therefore, they have betrayed us by denying us the very nourishment a struggling nation needs.

And then there is Sedition.

Incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government. From the beginning of the Tea Party Movement, its leaders have been telling its followers that ‘Obama is coming to get your guns” or “This country is going to be under Sharia Law because the president is a Muslim”. They even claimed “the President isn’t even American, he was born in Kenya” while not even considering the fact that even if he were, his mother is an American. They even devoted a whole ‘news’ network to the incitement of discontent and rebellion against the government. Faux News encourages the reporting of unverified stories and outright lies, even lies that have been debunked multiple times. And they feed it more daily. It’s as simple as that.

Any action, especially in speech or writing, promoting such discontent or rebellion. Faux News, right wing websites, right wing media rags and now an actual letter to an enemy foreign leader, I think they have speech, writing and promoting covered. Every single Tea Party Republican who speaks out against the president making false claims about his intentions is promoting rebellion. Anyone who encourages others to speak out against him are also guilty of inciting rebellion.

The president is in the process of negotiating along with other nations who are our allies with Iran to come up with a peaceful solution to our problems. He is not acting alone. He is acting in the best interests of not only our country but also in conjunction with other leaders acting in the best interests of their countries. The actions of our president are all part of international relations. We are not a rogue nation anymore. He is not a rogue president. He is not someone other nations fear and he shouldn’t be. He is not the aggressor that other nations have hated us in the past for. He is working toward peace. The actions of the 47 congressmen were an effort to do one of two things. Help the enemy by warning him of the possibility of future actions so he doesn’t waste his time trying to depend on the negotiations to bring forth a strong solution when there is none coming, or working against our president and our country by inciting war. Either is, by definition, is treason and sedition.

It is time for this nation to stand up and in one voice say “NO. This is NOT who we are.” It’s time for the world to know that we do not support the aggression displayed by these leaders. We are not a nation of hot heads that want to attack anyone and everyone. We are tired of being led into wars we don’t want. We are sick of losing our soldiers to rich men’s wars. It’s time for us to speak in one voice and demand that these men and women to be brought up on charges for treason and sedition. It’s time for them to lose their meal ticket on our dime. They should be tried, convicted and stripped of their obscene retirement plans. It is time for them to pay for their crimes against the people of the United States of America.

Do You Speak the Language?

abortion [uh-bawr-shuh n] • Examples • Word Origin noun

1. Also called voluntary abortion. the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.

2. any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months.

3. Also called spontaneous abortion. miscarriage (def 1).

4. an immature and nonviable fetus.

5. abortus (def 2).

6. any malformed or monstrous person, thing, etc.

7. Biology. the arrested development of an embryo or an organ at a more or less early stage. –

8. the stopping of an illness, infection, etc., at a very early stage.

9. Informal.

1. shambles; mess.

2. anything that fails to develop, progress, or mature, as a design or project.

We’ve addressed before that often the lawmakers writing laws for this country do so with a misunderstanding or misuse or even just an overly broad use of the language in writing these laws. I have stressed that they often don’t consider the broad definitions these laws can reach in legal terms that could be detrimental to the people they govern. I understand that when I’ve said this both in conversation and in blog statements, people often either don’t associate this to their own situations or they don’t fully appreciate what the laws being written mean.

In writing today, I intend to help clarify what’s going on here. Politically, when we hear the term abortion, most anti-choice persons automatically jump to the understanding they have of the term as defined in the first definition line above, a voluntary abortion. A woman goes into a clinic and says I’m pregnant and I don’t want to have this baby and has the pregnancy terminated. Needless to say, they’re all for ending that choice. However, they fail to take into consideration the other definitions listed above from dictionary.com which outline the other meanings of the term. As you can see by that definition however, abortions are not always voluntary. And they don’t always go well. A woman’s body does not always work the way we expect it to. A fetus is not always viable.

Viability is important. It means the ability of the fetus to survive and thrive outside the body of the mother. Often, the body recognizes the lack of viability and spontaneously aborts the fetus. This is the process more commonly known as a miscarriage. It’s amazing to me that SO MANY people do not know that a spontaneous abortion is the medical term for a miscarriage. While working in a hospital, I encountered an angry woman who was there to demand we correct her medical record to say she had a miscarriage because she DID NOT have an abortion. I could not get through to her that the term in her record was correct and that this was the medical term for a miscarriage. I had to send her to Medical Records so they could explain it to her. Finally, they sent her to her doctor to get a full explanation. So therein lies the problem. If people don’t understand that the term they hate and stand staunchly against also applies to something devastating that they can have sympathy for, they don’t fully grasp the meaning of the bills being put forth. They’re supporting the passage of a law they do not fully understand. And by doing so, often supporting it to their own detriment. They don’t understand that the laws they’re supporting and even demanding affect them in a very negative way that could be life threatening.

I often hear stories of women who have had abortions but who are aggressively against them. They generally do not associate the term with what they experienced. When asked about their own abortion, they will often tell you “well my situation was different”. They don’t understand that in the eyes of the law as the anti-abortion laws are written, they are not different. These laws categorize all women with all situations into one category and outlaw abortion for all of them, regardless of circumstances.

About 15 years ago, I married my second husband. Soon after we married, I was admitted to the hospital. I had abdominal pain on the left side that was a deep concern to doctors in the Emergency Department of Shands Hospital in Jacksonville. I was taken to xray to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound to see what was going on. I was pregnant. I had had a tubal ligation 5 years before that so the fetus was not implanted in the wall of my uterus as per the normal process. Instead, it was growing in my left fallopian tube. It had grown to the point that it was too big for the fallopian tube and had ruptured it. I was bleeding internally. There was nothing wrong with the fetus. The problem was with my body. According to the current wording of the current bills proposed the emergency surgery I underwent to save my life would be rendered illegal. They would put the life of the fetus that could not survive outside my body over my own life. They would have required the hospital to allow me to bleed to death rather than perform procedures that saved my life. They would have left my two daughters without their mother for the rest of their lives. TECHNICALLY, I had an abortion.

Last year, my daughter got pregnant. She came to me excited to tell me I was going to be a grandmother. We were very much looking forward to it, but something was nagging at me. Call it instincts. Something wasn’t right. When she reached four and a half months, the doctor scheduled an ultrasound to determine fetal age and possibly find out the sex of the baby. My daughter, being who she is, did not ask any questions. She heard ultrasound and got excited. My warning bells went off….it’s a bit early and if they’re determining fetal age at this stage, something’s wrong.

When we went for the ultrasound, I watched the screen, knowing what it’s supposed to look like and had my suspicions confirmed. There was no fetal movement, nor heartbeat. When the tech stepped out to call the doctor, I asked my daughter if she was even paying attention. She had not so I told her to pay attention when she came back because something is wrong. When the tech came back, she looked again, made notes and I said “something’s wrong, isn’t it”. She said that she was waiting for a call back from the doctor but that she would likely be sending us to the ER. And so it began. Fetal demise; something no woman wants to hear. So we went there to the ER and spent hours there awaiting the OB/GYN on call to notify the ER physicians what their instructions were. We ended up being sent home that night. We were back in the ER twice before it was over; one visit in which her water broke and she had some contractions which stopped before long. For nearly a week, we awaited the spontaneous abortion to complete itself. They would not do a D & C because her insurance, a Georgia Medicaid variation would not cover it unless the life of the mother was in danger. They checked her each time for signs of infection which were the only signs she could have shown that would have allowed them to proceed with the D & C that would have relieved her pain and stress. Because, you see….a D & C is also an abortion.

So for four days, she had to live with the fact that she was carrying a deceased fetus in her body and that it would come out eventually. When it finally did, it did so in her home. She was transported, with the fetus back to the Emergency Room where they checked her to make sure there was nothing else that would have to be done. This horrific story and experience were brought to you by current abortion laws. My experience, and my daughters make us no different than some “trashy woman” the anti-choice movement portrays in their fight to end all abortion. In the eyes of the law, they are all abortions and all will be ended by the language commonly used in these laws. There is no way to separate our experiences from the myth because the term Abortion is a medical term, not a political one. So when those anti-choice activists say they had an abortion but their situation was different, know that it’s not. It’s exactly the same as anyone else’s in the word of law. And if these extremists get their way, healthcare for women will get ugly. There is no other way around it because the authors of these laws are so uninformed that they write them under the assumption that everyone who seeks an abortion is the same and that its ‘killing babies’. It often is not.

Also know that if a woman is seeking abortion after the 20 week mark, only 1.4% of all abortions according to the CDC, there’s a very good chance that it’s because of fetal demise or because the mother cannot survive to full term. Because the chance of complications increases as the gestational age does, doctors are more likely to discourage abortion after that time and offer other alternatives if there are better ones for the issue at hand. That being said, no woman has an abortion no questions asked. They go through a medical interview at every appointment, even an abortion appointment. Doctors want to keep their licenses to practice so they’re not likely going to put the woman’s life at risk unnecessarily. This significantly decreases the number of women having abortions after 20 weeks without there being serious medical issues. If you feel the need to question this, I’d advise you to find yourself some reputable sources.

Redirection

I read something this morning that I found absolutely absurd. Republicans blaming Democrats for the recent freight train derailments spilling oil and burning it along the tracks. They’re angry because the Democrats denied them their precious KXL Pipeline so it’s their fault these horrific fires are burning until they burn out because it’s dangerous to put them out any other way than just allowing them to burn and just manage the fires to keep them from spreading. http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2015/03/thanks-democrats-another-eight-railcars-carrying-gas-explode-near-galena-il/

These statements are ignoring some highly relevant facts.

First, consider what they’re transporting. Crude oil is flammable. It’s poisonous to the environment and to humans. And the type of crude oil currently burning in Illinois is particularly volatile; which means that this kind of risk is going to be there regardless of how it’s transported. Yet, we now have the technology to get away from our oil dependence. We have the capability to not even risk transporting oil at all. We could put all our focus on further development of renewable resources and minimizing our dependence on oil altogether. Yet we still put our environment and human well-being at risk to support this industry.

All this being considered, let’s compare the pipeline spills to rail transport spills. When a train derails, there are impacts of metal on metal generating sparks that ignite horrible black smoke blazes which pollute the air and the spills that pollute the ground surrounding the area. Fumes spread throughout the area and the fires have to be managed because to spray water on them would increase risk to contaminating nearby bodies of water. However, these fires are quick to spot and get on top of controlling. A pipeline spill on the other hand can quietly leak for months before the evidence is found leading to the spill….then they have to track where the spill is coming from which could take days, perhaps even weeks if the spill is slow and the mess has spread far enough. Most pipelines go OVER bodies of water so the spillage has by the point of discovery already poisoned the waterways. Animals and vegetation are already dying by the time repairs are made. The damage has been done and clean up could take weeks…months…years in some cases. Not to mention that these companies find ways to skirt around the cost of cleaning it up which means some of this contamination is permanent. Then consider that this particular pipeline is slated to cross over one of the largest clean water aqueducts in the country; an aqueduct that supplies clean drinking water to millions.

So if crude oil is burning in a one mile crash site and the fire is being controlled so as to not let it spread, it will eventually burn out. Once that is done, any reputable railroad will clean up the spill with a collaborative effort between the railroad and outside contractors well trained in the cleanup of such spills. If the cause of the spill is found to be caused by the railroad like a hotbox or a damaged rail, the railroad will absorb the cost. However, if its cause turns out to be due to the negligence of the company the shipping is being done for, the railroad will handle the spill exactly the same way, and then pursue the company at fault to recoup their costs. In the case of the pipeline, the company at fault is the one responsible for maintaining the pipeline, in EVERY case. And history of these spills and the damage they cause has often been found to be permanent because the company responsible skirts that responsibility and never fully cleans up the mess. So at this point, it becomes a choice. How would you rather the spills be handled? By responsible railroads that make it company policy to take their impact to the environment and communities into consideration and clean up after themselves or by oil companies that have by historical account made it a habit to cover up or just ignore their impact on the environment in favor of their bottom line? Making them transport by rail forces them to be responsible because railroads are responsible. Pipelines allow them to shirk their responsibilities to the citizens of the country and to the environment. If they own all the land around the pipeline, no one is going to report it until it seeps over the property line. If it doesn’t, it may take people getting sick from contaminated water ingestion which could take years and cost millions in healthcare costs to any unlimited number of victims.

My mother use to tell me to consider what people tell you, and then consider what they have to gain by telling you what they do. This article is a perfect example. The following link is a better representation of the facts minus the devious spin, though it’s not really perfect either. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/train-carrying-bakken-crude-derails-burns-illinois-29431139?page=2

This incident, the previous one last month and their timing tend to stick with me. It makes me question what’s going on. These two incidents got much more press than did the two major pipeline spills this year. http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/why-we-shouldnt-shrug-off-the-latest-pipeline-spills Perhaps because they want to present rail spills to be more costly than pipeline spills…..and they are…for the oil companies. But the cost of their impact on our environment and human lives is more than we can afford.

Protecting One from Oneself

I’ve had many people say to me that some people should not be allowed to reproduce. And while sometimes I’d agree with some of the reasoning, I recognize the slippery slope this line of thought would lead to. Generally speaking, this idea has been presented to me as stupid people shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce. And it’s usually presented by, for the most part, intelligent people. That being said, are we really to put into the hands of a few people the right to define stupid? This is where the slippery slope begins, is it not?

I am a liberal. I’m not ashamed of that fact. It is something I see as the way I should be. And yes, I do consider some people stupid for seeing things the way they do. I’m not trying to be insulting, I’m just lamenting on the fact that its human nature to make judgment calls on some things and that when one does, they’re often perceived as arrogant. Yes, I own that. However, I also see the flipside of that very ideal. I have a distant relative by marriage who thinks I’m an idiot because of how I see the world. In turn, I see her as an idiot because she doesn’t see things the way I do. Maybe neither of us is wrong, but maybe both of us are. I have another friend I’ve referenced in my commentary before who just thinks I’m naïve and don’t see the real world. I also see him the same way.

I find that the more educated one gets, the more they see other people differently. They tend to see a person’s reaction to any given topic as “I use to see it that way too, but now that I’ve experienced things, I see it differently”. Personally, I feel the need in these instances to share my experiences and education with that person but they are often not receptive. I find that lack of receptiveness frustrating because by nature, I’m open minded. But my friend thinks I’m close minded because I refuse to back step on what I’ve learned in order to “see things his way”. I don’t see this as close minded because I was there before and once we learn different, we never go back to what we believed before. We grow and evolve with knowledge. I find it unacceptable to devolve.

That being said, the more some people are educated, the more they think they know what is best for not only themselves but for their loved ones and yes, even strangers. But they often make these assumptions on their own perceptions of other people, and not on what the circumstances those people face are. I’m not saying all well educated people are arrogant and of the mind that anyone less educated is just ignorant, just that some are incapable of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. They are unable to imagine a world that is different from the way they perceive it. And if anyone tries to educate them on that alternate view, they see them as the same. They discount the fact that everyone perceives the world in a way that’s based on their experiences. And once you go through those experiences, you cannot unlearn what you learned from them.

Take me and my friend for instance. I lived in what some would call a ghetto for a few years; a neighborhood where gunshots could be heard at night on most weekends and occasionally during the day and on weekdays. I saw all kinds of struggles that I’d have never seen in any of the neighborhoods I grew up in. My friend, on the other hand has never lived in that kind of circumstances. Therefore, he believes in the idea that there are welfare queens and people that get rich off the system. Having seen it for myself, I know that it’s nearly impossible. I realize that these well put together people who use food stamps are usually doing much of their ‘maintenance’ themselves. They purchase their well-manicured nails at the dollar store and put them on themselves. They do each other’s hair. They buy their name brand clothing at the Goodwill and clean it up themselves. Either that or they have someone in the drug trade taking care of them which also does happen. A man three levels up from a street dealer will make sure his lady has a decent phone and always has service so he can reach her when he wishes but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t really qualify for welfare. It just means he wants to make sure he can reach her. Keep in mind that he may have three other ladies so he likely isn’t paying rent for all of them. They still need the help to put food on the table as well. Just because they have a smart phone doesn’t mean they’re cheating the system. My friend assumes this is exactly what it means.

I’m not saying this is the story for all of them. There could be any number of reasons they don’t look like they qualify for help but do. And it’s not predominantly black people either. There are a lot more white families that qualify and get help than most people that haven’t seen it realize. And all the other races and ethnic groups also have members who need help and qualify for it. The point is, you don’t have to LOOK poor for it to be a fact. And we can’t assume that the reason they got to the point of needing help was because they’re lazy. Most of those who qualify hate the fact that they do and they search for jobs that pay enough to support their families. Anyone who has looked for a job knows those that pay well enough to support a family are few and far between. This is also something I’ve seen for myself.

So when we go allowing lawmakers to make laws that take our freedom to make our own decisions and put them in the hands of others, thereby removing freedoms from the average citizen, we are allowing decisions that affect the lives of others to be made by people that do not know all the facts. Do we really want to do that? My friend thinks I am naïve because I don’t believe in the welfare queen myth. I certainly wouldn’t want him or his peers deciding whether or not I am smart enough to reproduce. For the record, I am college educated and he is not. But I doubt being educated would change his view, because it didn’t change his father’s view. He, also, has never lived in a ghetto. And HE is WELL educated. Hell, look at George W. Bush. He has a college degree and look what his decisions did to our country.