Let’s face it. Human beings generally prefer familiar environments and people. We seem to be wired that way. Infants smile earliest and most frequently at their mothers’ faces. People often choose to live in areas where people look, think and talk like themselves.
With an innate tendency to seek commonalities with others, people often have to be reminded that those who are different aren’t bad, but rather dissimilar. However, it is rather easy to convince individuals that different is dangerous and encourage hate. It’s been done for ages and when leaders, such as President Trump, take this stance, followers who knew it wasn’t acceptable to show their prejudices recognize that it’s now fine to let their “inner” hate out.
It’s not that we Americans previously haven’t expressed our utter dislike for those of other racial and religious groups. Native Americans were first to receive such treatment. African-Americans had to deal with slavery, inhumane treatment and lynchings. We wanted Asians to build our transcontinental railroads, but we didn’t want them to live here. When many Irish and Italian Catholics and European Jews began arriving, they were not welcome.
Economic stressors often give rise to prejudice and racial and religious hate. There is a fear that “those different people” will take over their work opportunities or social values. It’s what is playing out now and what led to America’s more restrictive immigration laws in the 1920s. The same fears provided a rationale for Hitler’s rise to power after that country’s WWI loss.
Hitler was able to convince millions of good Germans that Germans who were Jewish and who had resided in Germany for hundreds of years suddenly needed to not only be removed from his nation, but from the face of the earth.
He legitimized hate and his followers, who needed an explanation for their problems, accepted his virulent anti-Semitism as the answer.
Even in countries where people’s appearances are similar, there are still differences among groups. It’s how clans and tribes are organized. It might even explain how West Virginia, a state that sees itself as unique, has traditionally had such regionalism that has inhibited statewide growth.
In countries and regions where the population has been homogeneous, acceptance of foreigners varies. Sometimes, small groups of immigrants, who readily adapt to the host groups’ values and cultural norms, are acknowledged neutrally or even positively.
Yet, when masses of immigrants try to enter an established or homogeneous group, problems occur. The newcomers often attempt to continue their own social and cultural disharmonious with their new environment. This is happening around the world now as millions flee from the Middle East and Africa.
Most advanced and stable nations recognize that there must be an orderly flow to immigration, but that new ambitious people are often needed to grow a country. It’s how America was formed and many European countries found they needed new immigrants to meet their labor demands.
Immigration isn’t a new problem for our nation. It actually was an issue in 1798 with the Alien and Sedition Acts. It will always be a concern here as there will always be people clamoring to enter our wonderful, but imperfect country.
What we Americans must understand is that when a nation’s leader expresses hate or clear prejudiced opinions of national, ethnic, religious groups or even handicapped people, it legitimatizes hate and permits those who follow the leader to express similar sentiments. How sad it is that our American president has done just that.
[Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist who lives with her husband Maury in Huntington, West Virgina. Her email is email@example.com. This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on January 25, 2018. We have, with permission, occasionally reprinted articles by Mufson which we found to be especially important and worthy of the widest possible distribution.]
The U.S. Senate is reportedly considering a healthcare bill, although few will admit to seeing it or knowing its contents. Rumors indicate it will not, as hoped, be a “kinder, gentler” version of the House bill. There’s been a great deal of criticism of the direct effects of the House bill including, but not limited to, tens of millions without insurance, astronomical cost increases for seniors and those with pre-existing conditions, inability to get coverage for preexisting conditions, watered-down coverage (with many standard situations not covered) and loss of support for those in nursing homes. However, I’ve heard little regarding the effects on those not included above.
Please note the following is not deeply researched, but largely the product of my own logical process and as such could be far from accurate. I’d love feedback from those more deeply-informed than I.
Let’s imagine an employed head of family with a spouse and two children. Insurance for this family is provided by his/her employer and deducted from his/her paycheck. In fact, both spouses enjoy this benefit, so if one loses his/her job, there’s a back-up plan. This happy family is probably laboring under the illusion that they have nothing to fear. I believe this is far from the truth!
The disappearance of billions of dollars from medical payments will impact clinics and hospitals. Personnel will be laid off and programs will be cut. Wait-time for all services will be longer and some “frills” will disappear. If you need a class on dealing with your child’s juvenile diabetes, for instance, it may no longer be offered as often or not at all. If it takes you a month to get an appointment with your doctor now, that wait may double. If you child falls off the playground equipment and breaks an arm, the emergency room visit may stretch to eight hours as opposed to four.
Ted Chan, founder of Care Dash, an online site for feedback on doctors, (yeah, I did some research!) was quoted in Becker’s Hospital Review on March 9, 2017, as saying:
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without clear guidelines for replacing coverage will drive up costs across the board for patients, employers, and hospitals. Without requiring all to be insured, hospitals will be the insurers of last resort and will absorb the costs of uninsured patients seeking care. One recent study found that half of hospital bills go unpaid and that will only likely increase without an individual mandate….
When hospital bills go unpaid, taxpayers and local governments are often forced to pick up the tab. The question is not whether healthcare coverage should be paid for, it’s who pays.”
If you live in a rural area, the impact may be even greater, as rural medical services are economically tenuous. With fewer patients to serve and more low-income individuals, tight budgets are a constant. Under the ACA, there were supposed to be provisions to help rural medical programs, but many of these provisions were revised or never implemented.
Our happy fictional family may find their medical costs increase despite their insured status. When a family isn’t insured, that doesn’t mean they don’t get sick! They do, however, wait longer to seek treatment, present as sicker when they do go to the doctor, and their treatment is therefore more expensive. Since the bill is less likely to be paid, the hospital must recoup as much as possible in the form of increased costs for those WITH insurance. When insurance companies pay more, they’re going to raise the cost of their policies. Our fictional family will pay in increased insurance costs.
People who don’t have insurance are more costly employees. Since they can’t afford preventive care, they’re more likely to be sicker and miss additional time at work. (I’d prefer they NOT work, since someone coughing over my fast-food order is not something I relish!) I suspect this was one original motivation for employer-sponsored healthcare coverage.
Therefore, Fictional Family will be affected directly by the proposed healthcare bill. The medical services they need may well become harder to access, their health insurance costs increase, and their communities become a less pleasant and welcoming place to live.
PERHAPS WE SHOULD BE SHARING THIS MESSAGE FOR THOSE WHO MISTAKENLY ASSUME THEY’LL NOT BE AFFECTED BY THIS [“REPEAL AND REPLACE”] LEGISLATION.
Deborah G. Hankins is a retired “worker” who lives with her husband Milt and their little chihuahua Jose in Ashland, Kentucky. She is a leader in the local “Indivisible” group and is seriously concerned about our future under the present administration.
I am old enough to remember pre-integration days in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Segregation to me, as a young boy, seemed perfectly normal. It was dimply how things were done, how things were, and, since our neighborhood, Crescent Hill, was completely white, I seldom saw a “Negro” unless I rode the bus downtown or went through the black neighborhood in West Central Louisville. In my mind, “they” hardly existed.
Our schools were segregated, of course, but so were churches, theatres, restaurants, parks, amateur and professional sports, restrooms, trains, swimming pools, water fountains, neighborhoods: everything. When Negroes got on a city bus or trolley car, they automatically moved to the rear before taking a seat.
Such was true throughout the American South and in parts of the North, as well. As late as the early 1960s, for example, I visited a small town in Northern Indiana that had signs posted at the city limits warning Negroes that they had to be out-of-town by sunset — believe it or not!
When I was a boy of about twelve, I was with my mother visiting her sister in Washington, D.C. As we were leaving D.C., we crossed over the Potomac into Arlington, Virginia on a Trailways bus, and the driver pulled into a small parking area. Now that we were entering “The South,” all the black riders who had been sitting near the front of the bus had to get up and move to the rear — while all the white riders who may have been sitting in the rear had to move closer to the front. Then the bus continued on further south.
It seems unbelievable to me today, but that is how it was. I guess that is one reason why I’m still a little surprised when someone who did not live back then tries to tell me that not much has changed since those pre-integration days.
Many racist attitudes are still in place, to be sure; but in a legal sense, the changes have been very great; indeed, and who would say the changes have not been for the better!