Tag Archives: Oxford

DON’T RUN WITH THE HERD

WEIMAR PRECEEDED HITLER

When we lived in Africa, I used to advise people that, if they wanted to live a long life, they should stay out of politics.   I’ve now started to do the same in the United States.

Demonstrations and riots all too often end in violence.  Rise to prominence and there’s always the prospect of assassination.   Play it low key and you might live to old age.

I’ve never been one to run with the herd.   The fate of the herd is too likely to be that of the gadarene swine.   In the biblical account, two demon-possessed men have the demons cast out of them by Jesus Christ.  The demons then ask to enter a group of pigs.  The pigs then head straight for a cliff and instant death.

Politics is a bit like that.  Certainly, it is right now.

Most people, companies, even churches, are tripping over themselves trying to distance themselves from the wrongs of the past; asserting how they are not racist and proclaiming their love for Black Lives Matter.   Past American leaders are out of favor.  Even the British Empire has come under attack (would they rather be goose-stepping?   The British Empire was the only force standing up to Hitler while the US and Russia continued to sleep.  Historians have shown that, if Britain had fallen, the US would have followed and we would now all be speaking German.)

When we consider the tenor of the times, people need to remember that Weimar preceded Hitler, with a Depression in between; that a very liberal and decadent brief period of history was quickly followed by an administration of the extreme right.  Economists are already talking about another Depression, with our economies in a collapsed state through the corona virus.  Could history repeat itself?  Of course it could.  In America?  Of course.  As fascism consumed many countries in Europe, the US saw a big expansion of government power during the same period.

When people are hungry and have no jobs, they look for alternatives.

The Bible talks about an end-time combination of ten nations.  These have the hallmarks of a fascist conglomeration, embarking on world conquest.  You can read about it in Revelation 17:12-14.  (Incidentally, when European nations in the past went down a similar path, it was the British Empire that defeated them.   It will be different next time as the British Empire is no more.)

So, avoid the herd.  You never know where the herd will be a few months from now.  Robespierre or Napoleon (another “nut job”  who was defeated by the British Empire!)?   Liberal or Very Conservative?  It doesn’t depend on an election.   The herd is emotional.   Like those pigs, there’s very little thought, just an instinct that drives them toward the cliff.  Today, it’s liberal socialism.  Tomorrow?  Who knows?

Remember the pigs in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”?   They started out liberal.  But after over 100 pages, they were very different!

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ANOTHER TERROR ATTACK IN UK

Three men were killed (and three injured) in Reading, outside of London, when a Libyan asylum seeker stabbed them.

The British government said they will learn from this.   The most important lesson is the risk in allowing asylum seekers into the country.  Once again, this asylum seeker is a follower of the “Religion of Peace”.

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AMERICA IS SOCIALIST, DUMMY

“Every American state decrees that all its children shall be educated at state expense, no matter how rich or poor.  The idea began with Horace Mann in Massachusetts back in the 1830’s and eventually caught on nationwide.”

“Second, the entire American highway system is built, paid for, and maintained by the state and federal governments.

“Third, estate taxes were introduced in 1916, in the name of equality and to prevent the children of successful parents from becoming a parasitic leisure class.

“Fourth, in the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal established the principle that the federal government should intervene on behalf of distressed citizens everywhere.  It introduced Social Security (old-age pensions) and a growing array of farm subsidies to prevent rural depopulation.   In the 1960’s Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs went further, introducing healthcare for the poor (Medicaid) and for the elderly (Medicare).  Poor citizens in every city gained access to public housing complexes and were offered food subsidies and welfare benefits.

“During wartime emergencies in 1917 and 1942, the major industries were organized and run by central government departments in the name of efficiency and to prevent wasteful duplication.”  (“America is socialist, dummy,” Patrick Allitt, Spectator US edition, April 2020)

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WHITE LIVES MATTER

Burnley Football Club bosses have vowed to slap lifetime bans on supporters who flew a “White Lives Matter” banner over the Etihad Stadium on Monday.

A light aircraft towing the banner appeared in the skies shortly after players from Burnley and Manchester City had kneeled in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM) ahead of kick-off.

Speaking to reporters after the game, which ended in a 5-0 defeat for his side, Burnley captain Ben Mee said that he and his teammates “were embarrassed, disappointed, upset” about the stunt.  (The Week, 6/23/2020)

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NEXT PHASE FOR COVID-19

Covid-19 has thus far taken its most serious toll on rich, peaceful countries.  America, Britain, Italy, France and Spain, five of the six worst-affected, have collectively borne over half of recorded deaths from the virus worldwide.  But the disease is now rippling through less stable places.  What will happen as it does?  There are reasons to fear not only that conflict will help the virus to spread, but also that its’ spread may worsen wars.  The two could feed upon each other, creating a cycle of misery it is difficult to arrest.

At the outset of the Peloponnesian war with Sparta, which raged from 431bc to 404bc, Athens was ravaged by a plague that swept through the city for three years, killing thousands of soldiers and a third of its inhabitants.  “Such was the nature of the calamity, and heavily did it weigh on the Athenians; death raging within the city and devastation without,” recalled Thucydides, a Greek historian and general.  The Spanish flu of 1918, another world-shaping pandemic, festered in the trenches and barracks of the first world war and killed more people than the conflict itself.  Over 36,000 American soldiers died before ever reaching France, with 12,000 dying on troop transports.  In total, more American soldiers, sailors and Marines died of flu and pneumonia than bullets and bombs.  (“Covid 19 raises the risk of global violence,” The Economist, 6/23/2020)

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ISRAELI SOVEREIGNTY OVER WEST BANK                                             TV:   Trump, top aides to decide this week whether to back Netanyahu’s annexation ‘Decisive’ White House meeting, to be attended by Pompeo, Kushner, Friedman, said set to determine whether US okays PM’s July 1 plan for sovereignty over settlements, Jordan Valley.  (Times of Israel, 20 June 2020)

The White House will this week hold a “decisive” meeting on whether to approve Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared plan to start from July 1 annexing the 132 West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley — the 30 percent of the territory allocated to Israel under the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, Israel’s Channel 13 reported Saturday night.

Citing unnamed American and Israeli sources, the report said US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is to fly home on Sunday for the pivotal meeting, which is scheduled for Monday or Tuesday, and which is also to be attended by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and National Security Adviser Richard O’Brien.  Friedman may meet with Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz before he leaves.

Trump himself is “likely” to join the session, the report said, since “he’s the one who will ultimately decide” on whether to approve Israeli annexation, and if so on what scale.

A central issue in the White House meeting is likely to be the internal disagreement in the Israeli coalition over annexation now, which Netanyahu is vigorously championing, while Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi have said the Trump plan should be implemented in coordination with Jordan and the Palestinians.

A joint US-Israel committee has been mapping out the West Bank areas set to come under Israeli rule, and has not yet completed its work, having been delayed in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Times of Israel was told earlier this month that the committee was weeks away from finishing the job, and that the US was “highly unlikely” to green-light annexation by Netanyahu’s July 1 target date.

Netanyahu’s vows to push ahead with unilateral annexation have been condemned internationally, with European and Arab states, as well as senior members of the US Democratic Party, warning the Israeli government against doing so.

(https://www.timesofisrael.com/tv-trump-top-aides-this-week-to-decide-whether-to-back-netanyahus-annexation/)

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Worst of crisis now behind us, says Germany’s chief banker
Germany has turned the corner on the worst of an economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and is now on the path to recovery, the central bank chief of Europe’s biggest economy said Sunday.  (AFPnews, thelocal.de, Germany, 21 June 2020)

“We experienced in the last months the deepest economic slump in Germany’s (post-war) history,” Jens Weidmann told Sunday’s edition of the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  “The good news is:  the trough should be behind us by now, and things are looking up again. But the deep slump is being followed only by a comparatively gradual recovery.  “Weidmann, who has never minced his words against expansionary policies ramped through in the past by the European Central Bank, on Sunday also voiced support for the unprecedented economic rescue and stimulus packages unleashed by Berlin to shield German companies and jobs.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had stunned observers in March when it unveiled a rescue package worth 1.1 trillion euros, smashing through a long-held no new debt dogma to fund the measures.  Earlier this month, it said it would plough another 130 billion euros into various schemes, including a cut in VAT, to stimulate the economy.  Reacting to comments that Germany, once known as a “frugal” nation, was now dramatically loosening its purse strings, Weidmann said:   “The image of the Swabish housewife is often wrongly portrayed.  “She is not saving for the sake of saving, but so that there is money that can be spent sensibly and in case there are difficult times.  And that is precisely the case here.

“Like nations across Europe, Germany shut schools, shops and sent workers home from mid-March to halt transmission of the coronavirus.  The impact of the health crisis has pushed the economy into a deep recession believed to be the worst since World War II.  After the rate of new infections dropped sharply, Europe’s biggest economy began easing restrictions in early May although social distancing rules are still in place and huge events banned.  Nevertheless, the improved health situation and the huge government support have helped lift sentiment, with a closely-watched survey showing confidence among investors surging to its highest level since before the financial crisis.”

(https://www.thelocal.de/20200621/worst-of-crisis-now-behind-us-says-germanys-chief-banker)

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NATO EXPANDS INTO ASIA

NATO should systematically expand its military exercises and operations into the Asia-Pacific region, an expert of Washington’s Atlantic Council think tank proposes in the intensifying debate on the posture the western war alliance should assume in relationship to the People’s Republic of China.  China’s “presence in the Arctic, in Africa and in the Mediterranean” calls for a response, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.  Think tanks suggest that NATO should more closely monitor Chinese investments in the European infrastructure, because “civilian roads, ports and rails” under construction with Chinese participation “are an integral part of NATO’s plans for military mobilization.”  NATO is also strengthening its relations with “global partners” such as Japan, South Korea and Australia.  For the first time, Australia’s defense minister participated at the meeting of the NATO Ministers of Defense that ended yesterday.  The Atlantic Council is also suggesting the establishment of a NATO military headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region.   (German Foreign Policy, 6/21/2020)

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WHEN EVERYONE KNEELS, WHO WILL STAND UP FOR THE WEST?

“We are afraid that anything we do is colonial. There’s plenty of countries willing to step into that global governance gap: China, Iran, Russia, Turkey.” — Bruce Gilley, The Times, May 10, 2018.

British post-colonial guilt is, however, having repercussions far larger than statues.  There is, for instance, still total silence about persecuted Christians, according to a UK bishop leading a government review into their suffering.

Western history is seemingly being remade to portray all of Western civilization as just one big apartheid.  It is as if we should not only pull down statues but also pull down ourselves.  A successful democracy, however, cannot be built on just erasing the past.

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”  (George Orwell, 1984)

(“When Everyone kneels, who will stand up for Western history and culture?” Guilio Meotti, Gatestone, 6/21/2020)

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US military in Germany:   What you need to know

A decision to move US troops out of Germany would mark a major change in the defense relationship between the two countries and reshape the basis of American military presence in Europe since World War II.  (Deutsche Welle, 16 June  2020, by Ben Knight)

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UK DEBT EXCEEDS SIZE OF ECONOMY

The UK’s debt is now worth more than its economy after the government borrowed a record amount in May.

The £55.2bn figure was nine times higher than in May last year and the highest since records began in 1993.  The borrowing splurge sent total government debt surging to £1.95trn, exceeding the size of the economy for the first time in more than 50 years.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the figures confirmed the severe impact the virus was having on public finances.

“The best way to restore our public finances to a more sustainable footing is to safely reopen our economy so people can return to work.

“We’ve set out our plan to do this in a gradual and safe fashion, including reopening high streets across the country this week, as we kickstart our economic recovery,” he added.

Income from tax, National Insurance and VAT all dived in May amid the coronavirus lockdown as spending on support measures soared.

This is the first time debt has been larger than the size of the economy since 1963, but it is not as high as the post-war peak of 258% in 1946-47.  (BBC 6/19/2020)

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STATUES AND RHODES

“I come from a country with no statues.

“It is not that Morocco never had statues.  Not that long ago it had statues of French officials – of which only one remains, hidden in a consulate garden.  It had, a bit earlier, statues of Christian saints and Roman dignitaries, of which there is no trace. Before that, it must have had statues of Phoenician deities.  All have been destroyed, and with them visible proof of the complex history of North Africa.

“There is nothing new about submitting statues to the trial that their subjects escaped.  In the Roman Empire, when a Caesar fell out of public grace and was murdered, his successor’s first thought was about statues.  Faces were erased, then redrawn in the new emperor’s image.  Tearing down statues is not new, either.  People re-evaluate the past, but when it comes to re-evaluating individuals, things get trickier.  How much did a person’s representation owe to its own time?  Frankly, almost everything.

Cecil Rhodes was not particularly loved in his own day; his wealth was admired, but not his half-avowed homosexuality.   He might have been too forward-thinking, for what business of his was it to create a scholarship that could be awarded regardless of race or creed?  The language of his will is clear and obvious:   “no student shall be qualified or disqualified for election to a Scholarship on account of his race or religious opinions.”

If Rhodes was the racist we assume he was, then surely he knew what “race” meant?  Five years after Rhodes’s death, in 1907, in the wake of the election of the first black Rhodes Scholar, Alain LeRoy Locke, the Rhodes Trustees argued that when Rhodes used the term “race” he might have meant “Dutch, English, Jew, and the rest.”  Perhaps Rhodes was simply more progressive than his trustees, and than most people of his time.

Rhodes endowed my college at Oxford, Oriel, with the means to further its work and fulfill its vocation as “The Provost and Scholars of the House of the Blessed Mary the Virgin in Oxford, commonly called Oriel College, of the Foundation of Edward the Second of famous memory, sometime King of England.”  Rhodes is included in the daily college prayer said after dinner in hall, and in the yearly benefactors’ service.  Does that mean that we, as a community, condone the horrors he engaged in?

It is alright for hands to be dirty.  No hands are clean in history.

The first colonizers of North Africa wiped out all its Christian and Jewish heritage, and thrived on the slave-trade.  They had black slaves as well as white slaves.  Any neutral view of history tells us that oppression is a matter of military power, and not of race.  (6/19/2020)

(Marie Daouda is a stipendiary lecturer in French at Oriel College, Oxford)

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TO THE POINT

  • Sajid Javid warns against a return to austerity
    Former chancellor Sajid Javid has warned against a return to austerity.  With the government grappling with the effects of the coronavirus crisis, Javid has called for low taxes on business to aid the UK’s recovery.  He said “early hopes of a V-shaped recovery” had “proved optimistic.”  Javid also predicted that “some long-term damage to the economy” had become “unavoidable.”  (The Week, 6/23/2020)
  • Pulling U.S. troops from Europe won’t save any money but it will make America less safe.  (Bloomberg 6/22/2020)
  • At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a fight with Chinese troops on a disputed border, though no shots were fired.  The incident took place during what India had described as a “de-escalation process,” more than a month into a series of punch-ups in Ladakh, a Himalayan region over which the two countries fought a war in 1962.  Today both armies are nuclear-tipped; senior Indian and Chinese officials met to discuss the situation.  (The Economist, 6/17/2020)
  • “The British relied on Indians to carry out the heavy lifting of imperial occupation and governance.  As late as 1921, there were only 156,000 British citizens living in India, one for every 1,500 Indians (Copland 3).”    (How can one oppress 1500? MR)
  • “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”   (Leo Tolstoy)
  • Vera Lynn, the singer who entertained British soldiers during the second world war, has died at the age of 103.   Known as the “Forces’ Sweetheart,” she made the white cliffs of Dover a symbol of home in a popular song.   The Queen referenced another, “We’ll Meet Again,” in an address to the country during the covid-19 lockdown.  (The Economist, 6/18/2020)
  • For his first foreign trip since France went into lockdown, President Emmanuel Macron will head to London today, where he will be welcomed by Prince Charles.   The official purpose is to mark the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle’s “appeal from London,” a BBC broadcast in which the general urged the French to resist Nazi occupation, as well as to award the British capital the Légion d’honneur.   But Mr. Macron will also squeeze in a meeting with Boris Johnson, the prime minister, at a time of tension over unresolved Brexit negotiations.  The French president was keen to keep this trip in the diary, even though Britain is still largely under lockdown and had to exempt him from its 14-day quarantine rule.   Macron hopes the visit will remind the French of the resistance spirit embodied by de Gaulle, even if historical figures—le général included—have recently become objects of conflict rather than conciliation.

I LOVE PARIS IN THE SPRING TIME

The second round of the French presidential election takes place on Sunday.   Polls (!) show that the centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, is leading with 62% of the vote.   Madame Marine LePen, of the National Front, is not doing so well.   Reports say that she is already looking to what is often called “the third round of the presidential election,” voting for the Legislative Assembly, in June.   She has the potential to lead the opposition to Macron, who has no party support.   A future crisis (financial or terrorism), could lead to a major upheaval that would be to her benefit.

Mrs. LePen’s support comes mainly from rural areas and France’s rust-belt; Mr. Macron has all but 5% of the vote in Paris and the more affluent regions of the country.

The French political system, with three elections in just a few weeks, is rather complicated and, certainly this time, quite suspenseful.   For the first time since the birth of the Fifth Republic in 1958, the major parties are not involved in this second round – their candidates did not garner the necessary support.

It’s not just the political system that is different in France. Mr. Macron, married to his former school-teacher, 25 years older than himself, laughed off an accusation that he has had a gay relationship with a prominent radio personality; but now is issuing frequent denials about an overseas bank account!

In a heated televised debate on Wednesday evening, Madame LePen made the best prediction of the evening.   She said that seven days from now, France will have a female leader – either her or Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor.   Mr. Macron is a committed European, whereas she would like the French people to have a Brexit style referendum on the country’s future membership. Under pressure,   M. Macron is talking about the need for Europe wide reforms, but he would keep France in both the EU and the single currency, the euro.

A victory for Emmanuel Macron would mean the 27 remaining members of the EU will stand together against the United Kingdom in the Brexit negotiations.   A win for Mrs. LePen would actually help London, though no politician in the UK is going to say anything to that effect!

So Sunday’s second round is not just about France, but Europe.   We should know the outcome sometime Sunday evening, Eastern time.

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MORE MIGRANTS COMING

  • Turkey appears determined to flood Europe with migrants either way:  with Europe’s permission by means of visa-free travel, or without Europe’s permission, as retribution for failing to provide visa-free travel.
  • The migrants arriving in Italy are overwhelmingly economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe.   Only a very small number appear to be legitimate asylum seekers or refugees fleeing war zones.
  • The director of the UN office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.   (Gatestone Institute, 5/5/17).

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DIVORCE EUROPEAN STYLE

Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister who negotiated with the EU during the financial crisis a few years ago, is warning the United Kingdom NOT to negotiate with the bureaucratic nightmare known as the European Union.   In effect, Mr. Varoufakis was saying that nobody wins against the undemocratic EU.

Wolfgang Munchau, a German contributor to the London-based Financial Times, is also warning the Brits that they cannot win against Brussels.

The alternative for the UK is simply to leave and face the consequences, what is called a “hard Brexit.”   There are plenty of other countries wanting trade agreements with the UK, so there’s definitely a case for this.   But the British government is hoping for a trade deal with the EU post-Brexit.   They have also re-committed themselves to closer military ties, reaffirming their commitment to Europe.

A hard Brexit could be a better choice.   It would certainly be quicker as Brexit talks will last two years – and that time frame only covers the actual exit, not talks on a new trade pact.

It’s like a divorce – after over 40 years together, the UK and the EU are now talking to divorce lawyers about a divorce settlement.   As with a divorce, the only people who will benefit are the lawyers.   And, as any divorced people know, divorce never ends – the animosity (and the financial costs) just go on and on.

Footnote:   Mr. Varoufakis, who cannot vote in France, has called on people to support M. Macron, in spite of the way he and his country were treated by the EU!

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PRINCE PHILIP TO RETIRE AT 96

Britain’s Prince Philip is retiring after seventy years of public service.   His wife, Queen Elizabeth II, will continue with royal duties, but will no longer be accompanied by her husband.

Shortly after the announcement, the prince was at a function when an older man came up to him and expressed his sorrow that the prince was “standing down” from his responsibilities; the prince consort quipped back that his problem was not standing down, but rather standing up!

In his seventy years of public service, Prince Philip has attended over 25,000 public engagements and made over 600 overseas trips representing the United Kingdom.

He will end his official duties in August, by which time he will be 96 but will still take on a few as he feels up to it.. The Queen turned 91 two weeks ago. It is expected that Princes Charles, William and Harry will take on some of Philip’s commitments.

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INTERESTING QUOTE

( I cannot independently verify the following, but thought that some readers would find it interesting. It’s from a magazine called “Truth in History,” which comes out of Oklahoma.)

“…Bob travels to London quite often on business and from time to time has dinner with a very close friend of his, which is Queen Elizabeth’s personal secretary.   Bob told me that he asked his friend when the Queen was going to turn the throne over to Charles.   He replied, “she does not intend to ever give the scepter to Charles – possibly to William, but her desire is to present her crown, throne and scepter to the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns, whose rightful throne it is. This is her desire.”

Anyone who has read “The Servant Queen and the King She Serves,” published a little over a year ago, will know that the queen is a very religious woman.

“This tribute focuses on the Queen’s own words to draw out the central role of her trust in Jesus Christ in shaping her life and work, offering us an inspiring multi-faceted insight into a life well lived for others.” (Backcover, Google Books)

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DEATH OF OBAMACARE

I have mixed thoughts about the vote yesterday to abolish Obamacare.   The ACA went into effect on April 1st, 2014.   Before you marvel at my memory, I should add that I ended up in the hospital on April 2nd and spent over four months fighting for my life. I had one of those deadly infections that’s killing people all over the world.   I needed two major back surgeries and then fought nausea and vomiting while working my way through all the medications.   They gave up on me twice.

During this time period I was in two different hospitals. The bill from the second one was a million dollars; from the first, it was roughly half that.

Obamacare covered almost all my bills.

If it had not been in place, I would have died.   If I had gotten sick a month earlier, before it came into effect, I would have, likewise, died.

Having said that, I’ve also seen the negative side of Obamacare, of people having to spend a significant part of their income to get coverage, of a bureaucracy that has often failed beneficiaries, of a system that is too expensive to be maintained.

I do believe that the Republicans have made a mistake – they should have come up with another system first, before abolishing what the country already had.

I’ve been in the United States for 27 years, since 1990.   Health care (and how to pay for it) has been at the center of American politics during that time.   Whereas other, less affluent countries, have been able to put a workable system in place in months, the richest country in the world still cannot find a solution to the problem of healthcare.

Apparently, President Trump, who is in New York to meet with Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull, made a favorable comment to the visiting prime minister about their country’s healthcare system. It’s a single payer system, so the president’s comment is of particular interest.

A possible solution lies in each state working out it’s own system,

But it’s embarrassing that, after decades of talking about it, Washington still has not come up with a sustainable medical system.   Perhaps America could start by looking at the medical systems in Australia, the UK and Canada, our next-door neighbor.   France, too, which the WHO claims has the best system in the world. You would think that one of our TV news programs would take a look at one or two of these other countries.

I might add that if a Conservative government in the UK, the closest equivalent to a Republican administration, abolished the medical system, they would not make it back into power for decades.   The same goes for the French, Canadian and Australian conservatives.

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FAVORITE SCRIPTURE

John Wycliffe (1320-84) was a major figure in what became the Protestant Reformation.

“John Wycliffe was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, Biblical translator, reformer, and seminary professor at Oxford.   He was an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century.”  (Wikipedia)

His favorite scripture was Philippians 2:12 – “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   This was heresy to the Roman Church, which dominated the country at the time. Later, the Church had Wycliffe condemned as a “heretic.”   It didn’t bother him – he was already dead and buried. But his bones were exhumed and burnt.

He did not just influence religion.   He also had a profound political effect.   Not long after the birth of the modern parliament in 1265, Wycliffe encouraged people to think for themselves, thereby encouraging democracy, an idea the church did not like at all.

The freedom to think for ourselves is seriously threatened today by universities that won’t allow conservative speakers to address students, citing security concerns.   This is unlikely to be a temporary phenomenon.

Sadly, few remember Wycliffe today.   When I visited Lincoln Cathedral in England some years ago, I asked after the man who served there for some years in the 14th century.   A senior member of the cathedral’s clergy had never heard of him!   I did find a very thin book on him in the bookstore, which I bought.

John Wycliffe (pronounced WICKCliff) is one of the greatest men in our common history, who made a big difference both religiously and politically.