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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Is there evidence anywhere of objective obligation beyond contextual or situational obligations?

I just listened this morning to the President's weekly radio address on healthcare (in making his case, President Obama, like Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and many Democrats, used individual case studies of persons whose chronic conditions are not covered by healthcare) and the Republican Response by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). (Ensuring access to affordable healthcare for all Americans is not a Democratic or Republic issue; it is an American issue" (key words here are the meaning of 'access' and 'affordable'). Hatch advocated 'reforming the market' by increased information on treatment options, wellness measures by quitting smoking and living a healthier lifestyle, and more.

President Obama Radio Address 8/12/09
Republican Radio Address 08/15/09

I wish the Democrats would agree to this much - that living a healthier lifestyle is going to reduce overall costs for all Americans, however it's paid). Even Hillary Clinton made such comments during her research on national healthcare in 1993-1994. (The Clintons have a vegetarian daughter; I doubt that healthy living was the primary reason Chelsea Clinton went vegetarian in her preteens.)

We vegetarians and vegans aren't clear how we think or where we stand on these issues. Brilliant voices on both sides of this debate feed us oceans of information. Some preventive health voices (like Jeff Novick, Alan Goldhamer, et al) focus on how much money we could save on treating lifesdtyle-related conditions by shifting our society away from junk food, smoking and alcohol, and meat and animal products. To be sure, powerful interests impact the public mind through advertising and government subsidies to the wrong kinds of agriculture. Other voices gtell us that no change can be made until we have in place the systems that are financially dependent on keeping the American people well. Then and then only will the evidence become crystal clear to all Americans that it is in their individual AND collective interest to transform our lifestyles and everyday behaviors.

What if the community of vegan voices demanded that those vegans who advocate BOTH animal rights and universal healthcare coverage become an effective unified voice in the current US healthcare discussions??

Orrin Hatch included that issue (living a healthier lifestyle is going to reduce overall costs) along with payment reform in his talk, but the Republicans have been VERY slow to offer any structural change UNTIL the prospect of 'the public option' began to appear.

The notion of individual obligation and collective obligation emerges in public debates frequently. The current 'healthcare' debate (about public responsibility = obligation) is one such instance where the public is dealing with philosophical issues about obligation in ethics. Military conscription, taxes, public transportation, and much much more depend on answering questions about moral, political, and social obligations in public life and personal living.

Am I alone in thinking that the Democratic Party has become a haven for 'anything goes' morally (hands off my body, etc.), while contradicting itself in its abstract ethical argument when talking about public provisions of social goods?

Lert me give an individual illustration. Years ago, I had headed north from Boston to participate in an anti-nuclear rally. It was politic at the time for the head of NOW to appear there, where she was among the few to be interviewed. She appealed to the Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of assembvly and the inherent right of protest implied in such rights to justify the protesters at Seabrook. By the time I arrived home, she had already appeared at an anti-abortion rally where she urged the local Boston police to round up the protesters and cart them off to the local jails for unlawful assembly.

Oh, my! Can you see how careful conceptual analysis of speech and ethical analysis really ARE important in public discourse - and in developing public policies?

How do we hold court publicly on open public issues such as responsibility for health (not merely 'responsibility for healthcare) and responsibility for personal and public safety?

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