As Hurricane Barry makes its way into Louisiana, Americans brace themselves for impact. A somber sky slowly towers over the bayou state and the waters slowly rise. The Washington Post paints an even dimmer picture of Louisianans fleeing for their lives with their final few belongings.
Post Malone is a rapper, singer, and songwriter who recently blew up in the past few years. His song “Rockstar,” released in 2017, marked his first number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 as a solo artist. The song is considered his most successful song, but he also has numerous other songs that have been just as successful, such as “Congratulations” or “Psycho.” The album which “Rockstar” featured in, “Beerbongs & Bentleys,” broke several records on its way to the Billboard 200 and went platinum in just four days after the album’s release which is a massive achievement in the world of music.
Despite Post Malone being on record that he supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election, the gun-loving government skeptic makes it reasonably safe to say that he is a libertarian. During his time in Canada, he sat down for an interview. The interview was light-hearted in the sense that the questions were about his favorite video games or his plans for the future. However, when asked about what the biggest lie in the world was he said, “The biggest lie in the world the U.S. government.” He does not believe that the government is the same as it used to be in the sense that it is not about freedom anymore and that it has become some massive reality show. The questioning of the government in the way portrayed by Post Malone here really encapsulates the libertarian view on the role of government.
He also believes that the United States government killed president John F. Kennedy for telling the truth. He reasons that just days before Kennedy died, Kennedy had a grand speech explaining how our government focuses solely on being corrupt instead of going around trying to find the truth in all things. Post, who has a JFK tattoo on his arm, is a big fan of his and states that he was “the only President to speak out against the crazy corruption stuff that’s going on in our government nowadays.”
Although he says how the United States government is practically a giant screw-up, he has not once said where he exactly falls on the political spectrum. He did go on to say that he did support Bernie Sanders for president as he was “the realest one.” It is interesting that a man with such a distrust of the United States government would be an advocate for Bernie, as his policies suggest a stronger and more powerful government. One could infer that the reason as to why he would support Bernie is not because of his policies but because he believed that he cared about the country and wanted the best for the people of the United States, unlike Trump and Clinton.
In another interview after the election, he stated that he would not mind performing at Donald Trump’s inauguration for a fixed amount of money despite not supporting Trump and not voting in the election at all. Because he said this, he got much hate from the fans and later said that he was kidding. However, he still didn’t understand why he got so much stick for saying that. He feels that at the end of the day he would just be doing the same job he has always been doing regardless of he was to perform at Trump’s inauguration or any other venue or concert.
“If I do his show, does that mean I’m a supporter of him?” -Post Malone
To answer the question as to why he did not vote in the presidential election is that he feels our votes do not count and are just suggestions to the electoral college. According to Malone, the Electoral College could practically vote for whomever they want, and there is nothing that we [the people] can do about it. It is unclear to say if Post would have voted for Bernie if Bernie did win the primary, but it is safe to say that he would have supported and backed him throughout the entirety of the election process.
On the issue of guns, Post Malone is entirely pro 2nd amendment. He believes that it is an American’s right to own a gun and he is indeed taking advantage of that right. He owns:
an M14 – used by the Navy SEALs
“James Bond’s gun.”
a .44 Desert Eagle hand cannon
an M1911 pistol
two gold-plated Glocks -used for decoration, not for shooting
a Cobalt AR-15 -modified to pass California regulations, his most prized possession
a pump-action Mossberg shotgun -“great for home defense.”
an FN Five-Seven pistol with a laser sight -to disorient home invaders
a Glock 19
He has these because “They’re fun, they’re practical, and bad sh*t happens. If you hurt me, I’m gonna hurt you back.” He has a lot of valuable items, and he wants to protect those along with his friends and family. He acknowledges that it is dreadful that people have to be fearful of going to a concert, but he maintains that there will always be sick people, and if they want to go shoot-up a concert, then they will get the weapons necessary to shoot-up that concert no matter what. He also admits that he does not have all the solutions went it comes to these horrible mass shootings, but that he just believes in what he thinks is right.
“The world is going to shit. They’re taking away a lot of our rights.” -Post Malone
This quote suggests that Post believes we are continuously falling deeper into a tyrannical state, which is another reason as to why he maintains the right to bear arms is just as a necessity now as it ever was. He does not believe that Trump is solely the reason as to why we are going deeper into a tyrannical state, but that there is a much bigger problem going on behind the scenes of our government. Post thinks that the worst of the United States government is yet to come and that it is going to arise after Trump.
From his extensive gun collection to his complete and intrinsic distrust of the government, Post Malone could be a man easily converted to the libertarian movement.
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On July 28th a group of riders rode out from Mankato, Minnesota, planning to arrive at Coleman prison in Coleman, Florida on September 22nd. Coleman prison is where Leonard Peltier is currently being held on a double life sentence for the murder of two FBI agents. They plan on making many stops along the way and need all the support they can get. Leonard Peltier is believed by many to be wrongfully imprisoned. That’s why Ken Fourcloud, a Crow Creek Sioux Tribe citizen, organized this freedom ride in the hopes of President Trump granting Peltier his release.
Peltier, suffering from serious health issues, is 73 years old and has spent the last 41 years of his life in prison. He has been denied parole a multitude of times and hopes to be set free so he can spend his final moments with his family. It is highly believed that the prosecutors and federal agents:
planted his murder weapon as well as other evidence against him.
hid evidence that proved his innocence.
used torture methods to produce a false testimony out of Peltier.
ignored court orders.
lied to the jury.
On June 26th, 1975 two federal agents went onto private property on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Jumping Bull Ranch. The agents did nothing to identify themselves. They were in a normal civilian car, had normal clothes, and didn’t mention to anybody that they were federal agents. All of a sudden, a shootout started for unknown reasons. A family with children were caught in the cross-fire. Fearing for their lives, many of the men on the reservation returned fire.
The two federal agents died in the shooting along with a 30-year-old Native American man who went by the name Joe Stuntz. The investigation of the killings of these two federal agents went into full throttle by the United States government, however, the killing of Joe Stuntz was never investigated. Immediately after the shooting took place, government forces swarmed the area and began harassing the people on the reservation. Forces shot up the Jumping Bull home (not killing anybody, but just shooting at the portraits in the house) and intimidated the people with assault rifles to issue warrantless intrusions on the homes of these individuals.
Manipulation of the media is nothing new by the United States government and it is not new in this case. FBI reports claimed that the agents were set up in an ambush by trained guerilla warfare and even went on to say that one of the agents begged for their lives for the sake of the other agent’s family. More reports stated that the agents were “riddled with bullets.” That statement had to be taken back by the FBI director as many reporters who were digging around figured out that that wasn’t the case at all.
According to the government, the two agents were out to arrest a Native American man, Jimmy Eagle. They claim that the agents saw Eagle drive onto the Jumping Bull Ranch property in a red pick up truck. Coincidentally, members of the American Indian Movement were on the property at that time because they were seeking protection from all the violence on the reservation. Leonard Peltier was one of these members present and became the focus of the whole investigation.
Investigators would take the bits of evidence that they had on Peltier and manipulate it in a way to pin the whole shooting on him. They issued indictments on Peltier and two others who were present on the shooting. They charged Jimmy Eagle but later dropped those charges as prosecutors admitted that Eagle was not on the reservation on the day of the shooting. FBI documents support that the government dismissed charges on Eagle so they can put all their power on nailing Peltier for the shooting. Despite all the individuals who were present at the shooting, nobody received as much scrutiny as Peltier did and nobody else was charged for the killings. It was even made clear that the bullets that killed the agents weren’t even the bullets fired from Peltier’s weapon but it was never presented to the jury. To learn more about post-trial admissions, click here.
The freedom riders just want to seek justice for Leonard Peltier so he can spend his final moments with his family. They want to raise awareness on this issue and many other issues that are related to this manner. Please go and give them a donation on their GoFundMe page so the riders are able to afford everything they need to complete their journey. To track their progress, go to their Facebook page and give them your support.
“The only thing I am guilty of is struggling for my people.” -Leonard Peltier
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Another day, another article by an opponent of universal health care publishing lies about Canada’s single-payer health system. That’s right, lies. There’s no point anymore in giving the people that publish these articles the benefit of the doubt given both the evidence and people’s experiences with the health care systems they are attacking are so radically different from what they describe.
There’s a list of talking points critics of programs like single-payer work from. I’m sure at some point they were written down somewhere, but by now everyone on both sides of the universal health care debate can recite them from memory: single-payer is expensive, there are long wait times, patients are denied their choice of doctor, and of course people suffer and die needlessly as a result of one or more of the above problems.
In an article appearing in The Hill on July 28, Dr. Dean Waldman follows the talking points to the letter. He offers us a list of assertions, but no data to back any of them up. He makes a number of claims about the Canadian and British health care systems without once telling us how they compare either in terms of cost or outcomes to the US system, all the while implying the US system is far superior to both. My family’s experience is limited to the US and Canadian systems so I won’t spend much time on the UK’s National Health Service other than to cite some data.
No health care system is perfect. By its very nature health care delivery involves difficult choices. These choices are often forced upon health care providers and insurers (whether the insurer is the state or a for-profit company) under very difficult circumstances. If you’re looking for situations where the outcome was less than ideal, or even tragic, you can find examples in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms around the world.
But if you’re going to use these examples to tear down a country’s entire health care system and to hold your own up as superior at the same time, intellectual honesty demands that you show the examples you are using occur with less frequency in your own system than in the system you’re attacking. So, for example, you don’t allege one problem with the Canadian health care system is a lack of patient choice without also showing that there is a greater degree of choice under the American model. If it turns out there is less choice in the US than in Canada, you have to admit that the Canadians have at least done a better job of providing choice to patients than the US.
The same is true when it comes to cost. Telling people over and over again that single-payer is too expensive without providing any comparisons to the cost borne by consumers and society as a whole under the American model is being dishonest.
Dr. Waldman, like so many before him, makes a number of assertions without providing his readers with any comparative data. He claims, “The British and the Canadians pay a very high cost for their systems, and not only in monetary terms. Single-payer health care systems take away individual choice, they discourage life-saving research and innovations, and they exchange quality of care for a balanced budget.”
It’s worth noting here that the first sentence and the second appear to contradict each other. On the one hand “The British and the Canadians pay a very high cost of their systems” in, among other things, dollars, but on the other “they exchange quality of care for a balanced budget.” Either the government in these countries is spending a lot on healthcare or they are skimping on it to avoid deficit spending. Which is it?
Regardless, both in Canada and in the UK the amount of money spent per capita on health care is far below what Americans spend on it. In Canada’s case that was $4,752 in 2016. In the UK the amount was $4,192 for the same year. Dr. Waldman rightly points out that in the United States that amount is over $10,000 annually, but his failure to provide any context is troubling given he wrongly implies healthcare is incredibly costly in both Canada and the United Kingdom. Indeed, Dr. Waldman goes so far as to claim the single-payer system being advocated by Senator Bernie Sanders would cost a whopping $18 trillion, or roughly 90% of the total current US economy. Given Canada currently spends more than 50% less than the US per capita, that’s an obvious falsehood.
Dr. Waldman and other critics of universal health care programs would likely respond that it is precisely this lack of spending that is the problem. Setting aside the fact that such an argument directly contradicts their claim that universal health care programs are too expensive, this objection raises the important question of what the citizens of countries like Canada and the UK are getting for their roughly $4 — $5,000 in per capita health care spending when compared to the average American’s more than $10,000 investment in the same product.
Given Dr. Waldman’s unsupported assertion that “There is death-by-queueing in single-payer systems, where sick persons die from treatable conditions because they could not get care in time and succumb ‘waiting in line’ for care,” we would expect to find that Americans spend less of their lives suffering from disability and disease than Canadians, the British, or others living under the heavy hand of government-run healthcare systems. But instead, the US leads the developed world by a wide margin when it comes to the number of years lost to disability or premature death.
Dr. Waldman works for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. By itself, this is an unremarkable fact, but one has to wonder if being from Texas is the reason he’s not so keen on drawing attention to the shortcomings of America’s healthcare when compared to other nations. Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. According to an NBC News story on the crisis in Texas, “Texas’ maternal mortality rates are 35.8 per 100,000 live births as of 2014, according to a study in Obstetrics and Gynecology. By comparison, the maternal mortality in Japan was 5 per 100,000 live births, according to UNICEF’s 2015 data. In Poland, it was just 3.”
What about life expectancy? Given Americans are spending so much on healthcare relative to everybody else, surely they get a few extra years for it. Nope. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as of 2017 life expectancy in Canada was 81.9 years, in the UK it was 81.2, and in the United States it was 78.6. In fact, Chile and Costa Rica had higher life expectancies than the United States.
Finally, a note about choice. My wife and I have lived in Canada for seven of the last eight years and will be returning within days of this article. During our time in Canada, we’ve had several direct encounters with the health care system and have gotten to know a number of Canadians that have been dealing with it their entire lives.
Because my wife has type 1 diabetes, finding and keeping affordable healthcare in the United States was always a struggle. Group insurance through an employer was the best option, but this meant that every year as her employer signed on to a new plan she often had to find a new doctor because her old one was not part of the new insurer’s network.
As the name implies, single-payer means there’s one insurer for everyone. No doctor is outside a Canadian province’s network. If a Canadian travels to a new province, agreements between provincial governments guarantee coverage will be maintained. The only reason a doctor might turn someone away is because he/she is no longer accepting new patients.
My wife has been able to find a specialist she likes in Canada. There’s absolutely no danger that at the first of the year British Columbia is going to decide to drop her doctor from their network because every doctor is paid through the same network. In other words, Canadians have by far greater choice than Americans. Americans insured through their employer have no say in who the insurance carrier will be from year-to-year and the pool of doctors inside any given insurer’s network will always be smaller than the total number of doctors available. It is simply false to speak of American healthcare as an example of choice in this context.
Healthcare delivery always involves tough choices. Triage requires individual doctors and entire healthcare systems to prioritize the treatment patients will receive according to the staff and other resources available and the demands being placed upon the system on any given day. That’s true in every country in the world.
But Dr. Waldman and other critics of universal coverage are simply wrong when they say that countries like Canada and the UK are doing a poorer job of handling these choices than the United States. The statistics don’t support their claims and haven’t for quite a while. The fact that Dr. Waldman failed to provide data for Canada or the UK in his article should make clear he knew the data didn’t support his argument.
Speaking from personal experience I can say without hesitation that the cost to us of the Canadian system has consistently been very small relative to what we spent on healthcare in the US. Test results have been available to us within 24 hours every time and our treatment at doctor’s offices and hospitals have been excellent. In the US, getting test results required a return visit to the doctor’s office which usually meant another bill. The amount taken out of our pay-checks in the United States to cover our personal portion of the monthly insurance costs would have paid for roughly 6 months of premiums in British Columbia.
It’s time Americans stop listening to the critics of universal healthcare and start looking at the data. By every measure the American health care system is failing to deliver the kind of care so much spending should guarantee every single citizen. When it comes to health care the United States lives in one very big glass house. It should stop throwing stones at other countries and start taking a good hard look in the mirror.