Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Social Welfare and Political Ideologies and Health Care Reform, Oh My!

If you don't feel like reading this whole thing, at least read the last paragraph
and the last line.

Introducation to Social Welfare Systems is quite the interesting class. It makes me
feel like a sine curve, haha.

"Why am I a Social Work minor?"

"This is going to be really helpful and applicable."

Chapter Ten was about "Social Work and Social Policy." Included within that chapter
was a discussion of political ideologies and how they influence the policies that
influence the field of social work.

I would like to quote the definitions directly from the textbook, but am at the
library and do not have it with me, so will have to quote what I wrote down while I
was reading the chapter...

Included in the textbook were Liberalism, Conservatism, and Radicalism.

My reading notes...

= uphold human rights/social equality, protect political/civil liberties, ensure
economic freedom/democratic participation.
social welfare = legitimate function and citizen's right
neoliberal = reduction in spending, working with businesses

= free-market, individualism, competition, localism, work ethic
social welfare = only temporary, destroys individual initiative, privatizing
neoconservative = needs-based, family responsibility, state/local responsibility,
blame big structures, empower mediating structures

= societal responsibility, revolutionary social change through work force
macrostructural reform, redistribution of power/wealth
[non-capitalistic welfare state in which all citizens share benefits equally]

--> interactive mix of ideological perspectives generates a creative
tension that invigorates and renews the profession (social work).

When Dr. Ford began to lecture about the political ideologies outlined in the book,
she began by saying she did not know why the textbook authors chose to include these
three because radicalism has never been prevalent within the United States and never
will because we've never experienced a workers' revolution because we always had a
high supply of workers. For example, if miners complained about poor work conditions,
their supervisors were able to not care because there were always people seeking work
and workers have always been replaceable.

...workers have always been replaceable? Perhaps. Perhaps for simple manual labor.

She continued by saying that, although radicalism is not existent within the United
States (something I believe I disagree with), there is a third political ideology.

I grinned.


I grinned more.

She asked if anyone had studied anything about Libertarianism in other classes.

No, but I have outside of class!

She asked for examples of prominent Libertarians in society.

"Ron Paul!" I said.

She agreed after a moment's hesitation and explained that he infiltrated the
Republican party and made many of them mad with his Libertarian values.

When Ron Paul was a guest on The Colbert Report and Stephen Colbert asked him to
confirm the fact that he is a Libertarian, he said, "I like liberty, yes." :)

The next example of Libertarianism she provided was Rush Limbaugh. Rush. Limbaugh.
Rush. Limbaugh. What a terrible example. This would not have been that big of a
problem, except for the fact that she did this singling out the Libertarian ideology.
But that's because Libertarianism is less-known and everyone is familiar with the
archetypes for Liberalism and Conservatism!

No matter. Equality in all information given. Right? Equality? Yeah.
She continued to talk about Libertarian values, how the root of the term is the
word "liberty" and how Libertarians value liberty and prefer limited government.

Okay, okay, we're on the right track. But then, of course, she felt the need to
talk about the most extreme example of a "true Libertarian," which again would not
have been that big of a problem, except for the fact that she did this singling out
the Libertarian ideology. Again.
Anyway, she went on to say...

"A true Libertarian believes in defense forces, not armed forces; that government
should not rule abortion, that government should be as minimal as possible, that
there should be no social services, that public education should be federally funded
only through sixth grade, and that federal government should not fund social welfare."


"It sounds like Libertarians just don't care about people in need, doesn't it?"

A student in my class nodded in agreement. I nearly died. But she saved herself.

She explained that this doesn't necessarily mean that Libertarians don't care about
the needy, simply that they do not believe that welfare should be funded through the
federal government, and especially not through taxes.

Right! Because we don't like taxes! :)

There was some other stuff she said that made me kind of mad and I had a fun time
laughing to myself instead of being the outspoken person that I am.

I hope she saw me resist the desire to open my mouth. lolz.

We talked about the health care reform bill. Before you kids jump all over me and my
Libertarian ideology, let me just say that, to be completely honest, I'm mostly
neutral to the health care reform bill itself, simply because I have not researched
it on my own time. Sure, I've heard stuff about it, but I've heard stuff in both
directions, from both sides of the table. And I certainly cannot just rely on stuff
I've heard.

So, in regards to the health care reform bill, I'm mostly neutral.


However! Amongst what I've heard from others, I have heard values that are either
reflected or denied within the bill and, in regards to these, I know where I stand.

My values are not blurry.

My teacher began by explaining that the journey toward health care reform (namely,
universal health care) began with Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900's. The
American Medical Association (AMA) was originally opposed to the early attempts at
initiating universal health care, but now vigorously support it.

That sounds fishy to me.

We then worked with a partner to try and complete a T/F quiz about "How Health Care
Reform Will (and Will Not) Change Your Life?" This can be found here.

Starting in 2014, if Americans do not have the minimum required health insurance,
they will have to pay a fine. (There is contradicting information on the amount)

Individuals and employees will choose plans for themselves.

The government will not launch a new health insurance company that would compete
against private companies.

Not all employers will be required to offer health insurance to all workers. (Only
business with over 50 employees. Tax breaks for small businesses who do offer.)

Small business owners who want to offer their employees health insurance will be
granted tax credits. (Uncertain about amount)

Insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage based on age or medical condition.

Federal money cannot be used to pay for abortions, except in cases already allowed,
such as rape, incest, or endangerment of the mother's life.

Illegal immigrants still will not be able to purchase health insurance. (Apparently
there is a university in PA that is accepting illegals?)

There will be an estimated sixteen million new Medicaid recipients.

My teacher said that the debate over the bill is simply the embodiment of politics.
= lies on both sides.

As I continue reading more and more newspaper articles, I keep realizing how poorly
they tend to be worded. "Tax credits will be awarded to small business owners who
want to offer health insurance"? Really? All a small business owner has to do in order
to receive a tax credit is prove that they WANT to offer health insurance?

We then read an article titled, "For Consumers, Clarity on Health Care Changes,"
which my teacher failed to cite. It was written by Tara Siegel Bernard and published
March, 21, 2010, and I am certain that you can find it, if you so desire.

The last thing we did in class was imagine circumstances to see how the health care
reform bill will affect real people. You can participate here.
Again, TERRIBLE WORDING, media! Way to go!
A computer-generated database CANNOT tell a person "what the health bill means to
"To mean to" refers to one's personal opinion. Media, I believe you meant "to mean
for," which refers to impact upon an individual.
What's EXTRA interesting is that the hyperlink says "mean-for," rather than "mean-to."

Ohhhhh my. Not only are you wrong, media, you're also inconsistent. Oh dear.

Annnnnnyway. Enough about politics. Back to political ideologies. What I originally
set out to say. Personally, I believe that Radicalism is alive and well in America,
even though it may not necessarily be reflected through workers' revolutions.

Radicalism = "redistribution of wealth"

That's all I hear anymore. Interesting that that's also a core value of Communism.
(Which is an economic system, not a political structure.)

What I REALLY want to say is that, until Social Welfare class last night and reflecting
upon it afterward, never before have I felt like such a true Independent. To be quite
honest, I like parts of each political ideology (Liberalism, Conservatism, Radicalism,
Libertarianism), but will have to discuss this more in-depth when I have my textbook.
And, while I am whole-heartedly proud to be registered as an Independent:Libertarian,
never before have I felt so unfairly stereotyped and pigeon-holed. This is an example
of how judgment is not okay. When judgment is applied without equity, when a certain
group is singled out and spoken about in a negative manner, when... this is when
judgment becomes discrimination. Stereotypes are dealt with differently, but discrimination
occurs when one specific group is singled out for negativity above the rest. Not only
do I appreciate certain values about each ideology, I also disagree with specific
goals or values of each ideology. This is the opposite of discrimination. Things are
viewed equally and the good is extracted from every perspective. Marx* may have missed
some things, but he provided perfectly sound (and moral!) sociological insight and it
is this good that I agree with and extract and add to my own perspective.

Never before have I felt so Independent.

*"Marx Missed Some Things," written during the Fall 2008 semester when I took
Introduction to Sociology with P.T. Collamer. Apparently, I've never posted this
reaction paper anywhere, so will put that on my list of things to post. It's a
winner. Also, remind me to email Collamer.

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