jeudi, mars 31, 2005

A Republican Proposal I Like, A George Will Column I Admire

I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about this proposal. After much thought, I have decided that, if nothing else, I prefer this proposal to our existing tax policy. I see it as a step in the right direction.

Why I support it:

Representative Linder’s proposal has a component to address the regressive nature of sales taxes (though I would exempt types of purchases (like groceries and non-luxury clothing) as we do in Minnesota instead of the proposed rebates).

The tax code is in desperate need of simplification. Opponents love to point out that the tax code is 55,000 pages long. Linder’s proposal would make the code fewer than 150 pages long.

The current code favors the rich and provides more loopholes and escape hatches for them than it does for the middle class and poorer classes.

The delta between what the IRS collects and what it should collect is “strong and getting stronger.” At present it is approximately $300 billion per year. That’s $6 billion per state that could be used for social programs, homeland security, public golf courses, etc.

A simplified tax code decreases opportunities for dastardly tax cheats.

A simplified tax code decreases the number of IRS agents that are needed to oversee the revenue services.

A simplified tax code, by decreasing opportunities for tax cheats, increases revenue, which could lead to more spending options or to a decreased tax burden.

Inequities in the current code (where the wealthiest – by virtue of laws that skew to their favor, sometimes do not pay federal income taxes at all) are reduced significantly.

You have the ability to choose what you buy, and therefore, citizens have more control over how much they spend which translates into some influence over the rate at which they are taxed by the federal government. For example, I might get the Saab 9-3 instead of the Saab 9-5. I may also get the Hybrid Accord.

It applies to corporations as well as individuals. Under this proposal, they will pay a larger share of what they owe. Corporations used to pay 24% of all taxes paid, they now pay 11%.

Mrs. Duf and I will no longer employ an accountant to prepare our taxes (yes, we employ an accountant to prepare our taxes - we did it once when Mrs. Duf was working as an independenct contractor, and it was so addictive, we never stopped).

What concerns me:

Though I like the bill, I worry about the impact of a 23% federal sales tax on the purchase of durable goods. Presumably, we keep more of our income (I pay approximately $700 in federal income tax per month) so that when I buy my Saab 9-5, I won’t mind paying $9,200 in federal sales tax.

The monthly rebate seems like it will require a lot of administrative support. The infrastructure to maintain it seems like it will be unnecessarily large.

I can already feel the black market developing and miscreant industries rising to “devalue goods” or create options for those who can afford to avail themselves of those cheater's exits.

Last, if corporate America used to represent 24% of taxes paid and now represents 11% of the taxes paid, why do I feel like they will transfer their 13% increased burden to the work force or to consumers instead of addressing the unreal problem with executive compensation?

We like our accountant and would miss visiting with him every February (he always seems so happy to see us).

All that notwithstanding, I like this idea and I hope it happens.

mercredi, mars 30, 2005

Mea Culpa

Sometimes I feel obsessed with poverty. I don't ever really do anything about it, except think about it and write about it. But when it comes right down to it, I don't really do anything. My charitable dollars go to the environment, literacy, two public universities I like, and my church. The poor really get nothing from me except concern. Not terribly helpful. One cannot eat concern. Concern does not shelter anyone from the rain. Nor do these words.

The only note I'll raise in my defense is this: I feel in my heart that we make the biggest impact on the lives of the poor by changing the public policies to support them. We need to increase the minimum wage, to redefine the poverty guidelines, to reform healthcare and improve the mechanisms that see after basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, transportation). We have the ability to do it all we need is the desire.

Anyway, after that self-flagellation, here is a more human side of an subject I've posted on before - the minimum wage.

mardi, mars 29, 2005

My Favorite Films

Cross-posted on Pandyland

A Good Yarn posted her top ten movies and inspired me to do the same. It was much more difficult than I ever imagined.

So, with apologies to: “Run Lola Run” “The Professional” “La Femme Nikita” “Dangerous Liaisons” “Dressed to Kill” “The Hustler” “The Color of Money” “The Milagro Beanfied War” “The Decalogue” (a movie?) “Blood Simple” “Do the Right Thing” “Fargo” “Dr. Strangelove: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” “Caddyshack” “Raising Arizona” “Sideways” “The Untouchable” “The Pianist” “Breakfast at Tiffanys” “Homicide” “Glengarry Glen Ross” “Short Cuts” “Babe” “Babe: Pig in the City” “The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl” “Annie Hall” “Hoop Dreams” “Jackie Brown” “Manhattan Murder Mysteries” “To Be and To Have” “Three O’Clock High” “Big Night” “Mission Impossible” “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” “Elling” “A Clockwork Orange” “Citizen Kane” “Taxi Driver” “The Princess Bride” “Amelie” “Husbands and Wives” “The Princess and the Warrior” “Raising Arizona” “Deathtrap” “Election” “Rushmore” and countless others, here are my ten favorite movies:

1. The Bicycle Thief
2. Blue, White and Red (3 films, but…)
3. Amadeus
4. The Big Lebowski
5. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
6. Crimes and Misdemeanors
7. The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II (2 films, but…)
8. Il Postino
9. Cool Hand Luke
10. The Ice Storm

lundi, mars 28, 2005

Hope Springs Eternal

I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

The staff at ILIM had a fabulous weekend. First of all, the weather was sublime – near or above 50 degrees both days and mostly sunny. But more than that, our women repeated to the crown, our men are in the Frozen Four, and Duke lost/the Big Ten was vindicated.

On Saturday, we did a wine testing Chez Duf, and tasted for tannins (tannins are several compounds that are obtained from oak galls and various tree barks – they add a gripping texture to a wine). We drank an elegant pinot noir against a frisky cabernet, and the contrast made the tannins in the cabernet really stand out. Our guests were two wonderful friends, one of whom is a regular reader of this humble blog.

I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about 3 things:

The Red Lake tragedy
Terri Schiavo

Or, stated differently, I spent a lot of time thinking about death and rebirth.

Initially, I did not come up with much. I don’t consider myself a Christian – I consider myself someone who strives to be Christ-like. So, the Resurrection is a point of struggle for me. Growing up, I would have been hard pressed to tell you a significant difference between Easter and Halloween (in one you go out for the candy, in the other, the candy comes to your house?). So, with all of my thoughts of death and rebirth, I wasn’t making much progress. Until…

On Easter Sunday, we went to the First Annual American Indian Center of Rochester Pow Wow (held at the National Guard Armory in beautiful Rochester, Minnesota). It was amazing and wonderful. I really enjoyed the ceremonies and the culture. We saw the grand entrance, the Men’s Traditional Dance and the Women’s Traditional Dance. The MC spoke of the tragedy in Red Lake but did not dwell on it. Somehow, he found the perfect balance between noting it, responding to it, but not allowing it to remove the celebratory nature of the event (the Pow Wow was scheduled long before the shootings). After a tasteful reflection on the tragedy in Red Lake, there was singing and dancing. There was a celebration, and it was perfect. It ended up being a fine metaphor for my thoughts on death and rebirth. If a nation of peoples can continue to sing and dance in the wake of a tremendous tragedy, then rebirth is possible.

And if that did not make it clear, walking around and seeing signs of Spring (warm weather, tulips just pushing through the thawing soil) really helped to further it all along.

vendredi, mars 25, 2005

True or False: Everything's Okay

"...Oh world, oh money..."

Martin Amis, Money

Child Poverty Quiz

True or False (please do not circle the answers on your computer screen):

Under federal poverty guidelines a single person qualifies as poor if his or her income is $9,570 per year. TRUE or FALSE

For a household of two it’s $12,830. TRUE or FALSE

For a household of three it’s $16,090. TRUE or FALSE

For a household of four it’s $19,350. TRUE or FALSE

Those numbers are ridiculously low. TRUE or FALSE

Those families and individuals would be hard up with twice the money. TRUE or FALSE

In the Unicef ranking of the 23 richest countries, we ranked 22nd in percentage of children living in poverty. TRUE or FALSE

The number one ranked country has 3% of children living in poverty. TRUE or FALSE

22.4% of children in the U.S. live in poverty. TRUE or FALSE

The only “rich” country that fared worse was Mexico. TRUE or FALSE

In Mexico, 26.2% of children live in poverty. TRUE or FALSE

In fact, our economy is “strong and getting stronger.” TRUE or FALSE

Kids who grow up without enough to eat, with improper nutrition, with limited access to effective medical care, with inadequate shelter, and inconsistent living arrangements (occassioned by homelessness) can compete for grades and jobs with kids who grow up in middle class and wealthier homes. TRUE or FALSE

These kids will be prepared for a global marketplace. TRUE or FALSE

Poverty is generational. TRUE or FALSE

Breaking free of poverty is easy, you just have to try. TRUE or FALSE

Even if, as an infant, you get an ear infection, it is never treated (no money for healthcare), grows worse, compromises your hearing, leads to a speech impediment and has an impact on your school performance. TRUE or FALSE

What these poor kids need is a healthy dose of Horatio Alger. TRUE or FALSE

The Free Market will cure all. TRUE or FALSE

Bush’s tax cuts to wealthy Americans are the best cure for children in poverty. TRUE or FALSE

For almost 20 years, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have held child poverty below 5%. TRUE or FALSE

The economic model in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden is inferior to our supply-side, Smithian economic model. TRUE or FALSE

We can do better than this. TRUE or FALSE

Please don’t raise my taxes, I have to put gas in my SUV. TRUE or FALSE

Property taxes at my lake cabin sometimes make we want to sell the darn thing. TRUE or FALSE

Congress should spend less time addressing poverty among children in the United States. TRUE or FALSE

Among those same “rich” countries, the United States lead the group in number of full time workers with wages less of less than 2/3rds of the nation’s median income. TRUE or FALSE

I’d rather have cheap toilet paper than pay workers an adequate wage. TRUE or FALSE

Wal Mart ("Always low prices, Al[l]ways") is a great place to buy cheap toilet paper. TRUE or FALSE

Sam’s Club too. TRUE or FALSE

Three cheers for Wal Mart. TRUE or FALSE

Children born to mothers who live in poverty are more likely to have low birth weight. TRUE or FALSE

Children born to mothers who live in poverty are more likely to be born prematurely. TRUE or FALSE

Poor children experience stunted growth. TRUE or FALSE

Short people got no reason to live.” TRUE or FALSE

Children who live in poverty suffer from lead poisoning at a greater rate than children who do not live in poverty. TRUE or FALSE

Lead poisoning is no joke. TRUE or FALSE

27 million children in the United States grow up in poverty. TRUE or FALSE

More than 83% of them have at least one working parent. TRUE or FALSE

In most cases it is not until a family reaches twice the income of the federal poverty level that parents truly are able to provide for their children’s basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc.). TRUE or FALSE

The rich get richer. TRUE or FALSE

The poor get poorer. TRUE or FALSE

Poor children are not victims of genetic chance – unfortunate to be born into a poor home in a country that has the ability to address poverty but doesn’t; poor children are lazy. TRUE or FALSE

Especially the infants. TRUE or FALSE

Their parents never should have had kids in the first place. TRUE or FALSE

The sins of the parent should be visited on the child. TRUE or FALSE

It’s not my fault. TRUE or FALSE

I shouldn’t have to pay for their mistakes. TRUE or FALSE

Even though nearly one in four children live in poverty, I sleep well at night. TRUE or FALSE

It has a lot to do with my sleep number bed. TRUE or FALSE

Well, and my down comforter. TRUE or FALSE

What’s wrong with this picture?

Nothing. TRUE or FALSE

Extra Credit (multiple choice):

Who said: "America, at its best, is compassionate. In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation's promise. And whatever our views of its cause, we can agree that children at risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they are failures of love."

a. Bill Clinton
b. George W. Bush
c. Ronald Reagan
d. Harry Truman
e. Truman Capote

Who said: "Come, let us put our minds together to see what kind of life we can create for our children."

a. George Bush
b. Bill Clinton
c. Sitting Bull
d. Duf
e. Truman Capote


Source one, source two, source three, source four.

Recommended Reading

Extra credit answers (because you know the answers to the other questions): B and C.

jeudi, mars 24, 2005

It's Time to End the Suffering

The Supreme Court will not intervene in the Schiavo case.

The State of Florida will (try to) intervene in the Schiavo case.

Few people in the history of American jurisprudence have had more due process than Mary and Bob Schindler (Terri Schiavo's parents). Death row inmates look up to their level of due process in awe.

Apparently Governor Jeb Bush has found new evidence! You have to admire the timing.

A neurologist who has reviewed the medical records (but has not seen Terri) feels that she may be in a minimally conscious state and not a persistent vegetative state. The doctors who have observed her for 15 years are hacks!

The governor also has 30 new allegations of abuse against Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo. Thank goodness they surfaced yesterday!

Okay, it's time to say it now. At most, these efforts will prolong what is quite inevitable at this point. Terri is not going to recover. The most the Governor can do is get the feeding tube reinserted, have another round of due process, lose yet again (Her parents have been to the Supreme Court 5 times already!), only to be disconnected again.

Mary and Bob Schindler have had ample opportunity to present expert testimony in support of their belief that Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state. Apparently this is also not the first time allegations of abuse and neglect have been levelled against Michael Schiavo.

Given the mixed motives so clearly expressed by Republicans earlier this week. I think it is fair to doubt the motives of the Governor in this valiant, noble and very, very public effort to prolong the disregard of Terri's wishes.

What I'd love to see is new evidence that Terri's wishes would be to continue in this state - whether is it persistently vegetative or minimally conscious.

Has everyone forgotten what the standard is? The court was looking for clear and convincing evidence of her intent.

I'd love to see a poll of Americans to see how many would want to live as Terri lives for 15 years (and counting).

It is time to end this suffering. It will be difficult for all who love her, but we did our very best to determine what her wishes were. It is time to let he go.

UPDATE: I found a much more coherent an effective argument on this by a blogger/logician who makes a very interesting point. Check it his post "I Shouldn't Chime in but...".

mercredi, mars 23, 2005

Thank You Terri/The Lord's Mysterious Ways/Let Me Go/Wishes for Terri

I think Terri Schiavo’s parents have pretty much exhausted their legal remedies. I hate to speculate on such things, but I predict that the Supreme Court will not grant a Writ of Certiorari – I predict they will decline to hear the case. As I understand it, the Supreme Court has thrice declined to hear her appeals.

I wonder if this is the Lord working in mysterious ways. Through Terri, we have all learned a great deal about living wills, PVS (persistent vegetative state) and MCS (minimally conscious state). Fewer people who care about these issues will neglect to make their desires known.

As for me, I plan to complete a proper living will (I have one, but it needs updating). If I am not able to do it, I would like everyone to know:

I am not afraid to die (but I hope to be healthy and to live a very long time).

I ask for no heroic measures (I understand that is an ambiguous term: try to save me, but if it can’t be done, I’m fine with that).

I do not want to be a financial burden to my family or to my community.

If I am in a persistent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state, I would prefer to move on to the life that awaits me beyond this one (such as it is).

If I need help to breathe, to take in fluids or to take in nutrition, if I cannot recognize friends and family members, if I cannot communicate or ambulate, if my condition seems permanent or irreversible, if I do not respond in some way (foot tapping, blinking, increased heart rate ) to the following items: The Radiohead song “Myxomatosis,” the Wilco song “Poor Places,” the Coen Brothers film “The Big Lebowski” or video or audio of a KU basketball game, if all of these or a significant number of these (by significant number I mean qualitatively or quantitatively) items listed above are present, then I ask that all supporting devices and treatments be discontinued, that I be given comfort and transfer to a hospice facility, and that I be embraced in my passage to whatever comes next.

If I can make those decisions for myself, I will. If I cannot, I ask that the following persons, in order of priority, make them on my behalf:

If we are still married (and we will be), my wife Karen, solely. If she cannot do it, then

My brother Martin, solely. If he cannot do it, then

My mother Lequetta, solely. If she cannot do it, then (provided she is above the age of 18)

My daughter Elinor, solely. If she cannot do it, then I submit to the discretion of my personal physician (whomever she is at the time).

As regards the decision on what to do, of those listed above, I ask only two things: first, that they consider my wishes (expressed above) when they make the determination, and second, that they err on the side of letting me go - I won't mind.

For Terri Schiavo, two things (a wish and a hope): First, I want her wishes, whatever they are or were, to be honored and, second, I hope her continuation here, or her journey elsewhere, is blessed.

mardi, mars 22, 2005

A Sad Day

Today is a sad day for Minnesota and for America. As you’ve heard (no doubt), there was a school shooting here. A student killed his grandparents, 9 people at Red Lake High School, wounded 13 others, and then killed himself. If you read the new accounts, you will note immediately that the killings took place within a Native American reservation. As my dear friend at Good Yarn writes very eloquently today:

This incident brings to mind the many challenges facing Native American people - the high unemployment rate, the chemical dependency and mental health issues, the lack of resources to address these issues. And the general lack of attention to children and the emphasis on not raising taxes, regardless of the impact of those decisions.

It goes without saying that this is a tragedy. Sadly, this is not an unspeakable tragedy. This tragedy involves a young man in crisis (suggestions that the crisis was known are emerging). This tragedy involves a community in crisis. I am a part of that community. You are a part of that community. The community is in crisis. We are in crisis.

lundi, mars 21, 2005

This Is a Great Moral Issue! This Is a Great Moral Issue? This

With a grateful nod to an Irate Savant, I draw your attention to this interesting article on Bush's history of standing up for people like Terri Schiavo (OAC, certain restrictions apply, see store for details).

"This is a great moral issue...This is a great political issue..."

What's the difference again?

Here's the talking points memo that the Republicans circulated RE: Terri (note the proper spelling) Schiavo.

Man, politics is a dirty, dirty business - it's filthy.

My heart goes out to all the Republicans who capitalize on the suffering of others. To me, their motives are clear.

1. Distract attention from the economy/budget.
2. Throw the base a bone.
3. Make political gains against Democrats.

Enter Money Enter Madness, or: No Child Left Behind, My Behind!

Congratulations to the O’Jays on their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On a related note, there are reports out of Texas that schools are cheating on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exams. Should we hold the phone on our plans to expand this mess to the greater U.S.? Methinks yes.

The cheating is reportedly widespread (more than 200 schools were flagged), but the reports focus on Houston and Dallas.

(The unfunded mandate) No Child Left Behind legislation requires schools to have a minimum number of students pass standardized tests. In order to believe that they prove that all the kids who pass are learning, you have to believe in the test and in how it is administered. If you require schools to have a certain percentage of its students pass, are you requiring the school to make kids learn or are you requiring the school to make kids pass?

This morning, NPR had a story on this same subject. Listening to that story, I also learned that school principals receive a bonus of $5,000 if the requisite number of students pass the TAKS exam. District Superintendents receive a $20,000 bonus if a percentage of their schools are in compliance. Enter money, enter madness.

What I’m really asking is this: what is more important – that our kids learn or that our schools have a percentage of students who appear to pass an exam? In effect, this question could be: is learning a community thing or an individual thing? If a genius passes the standardized test, has she learned? If a simple child fails the test, has he failed to learn?

Also, by adding financial incentives, have you improved student learning or promoted cheating? What do the results from Texas suggest?

I’m not sure tests prove students are learning.

I’m not sure requiring a percentage of students to pass is a good idea; I’m not sure it matters. If schools are cheating (remember the test examines schools more than students), then it really doesn't matter.

I definitely think threatening school closures and offering financial incentives to educators takes you further away from the actual goal by placing more emphasis on the passage rate than it does on actual learning.

Oh, and what does all this have to do with the O’Jays? C’mon now, you know their big hit right? You’ve heard “For Love of Money,” right?

The O’Jays told you what happens when money becomes involved:

Money-money-m-money... People will steal from their mothers.
Money-money-m-money... People will rob their own brothers.
Money-money-m-money... People can’t even walk the streets.
Because they never know when the world they’re gonna meet.
For that mean, oh mean, mean green.
Almighty dollar! Blood-money!

Money-money-m-money... People will lie, rob; they will cheat.
Money-money-m-money... People don’t care who they hurt or beat.
Money-money-m-money... A woman will sell her precious body.
For a small piece of paper, it carries a lot of weight.

Oh, that mean, mean, mean, mean... mean green!
Almighty dollar!Talkin’ ‘bout- talkin’ ‘bout...
You know that money is the root of all evil.
Do funny things to some people.
Give me a nickel - Brother, can you spare a dime?
Money can drive some people out of their minds.

Call me altruistic or naïve, but I truly believe the best approach is to adequately fund the schools and trust educators to reach individual students. It’s certainly better than all this (unfunded mandate) No Child Left Behind (wink, wink) business.

If you really want to know how the schools are doing, do what a doctor would do - go to the school and examine them. Governments monitor restaurants with audits, why not the same for schools?

dimanche, mars 20, 2005

An Unlikely Hero, an Unlikely Goat

So, I fancy myself a bit of a baseball fan. For example, I’m thrilled to see the boys of summer return. I’m as excited about the home opener as I am about the Masters and about the NCAA tournament. I kinda like baseball to be blunt about it.

Want my advice on the whole thing? Run to Vegas and put a honeybee (at least a honeybee) on the Twins to do it all. I have a feeling about that group. Yes, the Dodgers and Mets spent like the Yankees (and the Yankees spent like the Yankees on a World Series drought), but I think a spirited group from the Twin Cities will claim the crown.

But back to steroids. Jose Canseco is one of those guys for whom I have never really held much regard. He was a fair hitter in his day, and you could count on him to get his share of round trippers. But he always seemed to be short (many miles away actually) of what he could have done if he were dedicated and unjuiced. The whole Madonna thing, the sports car thing, the gun thing and the coming out of retirement thing, all combine with every fly ball that hit him on his steroid enlarged noggin to make him more of a joke than anything else.

I hate his book. I hate the idea of his book. I hate what his book does. I hate what it advocates. I hate how it treats former teammates. I hate that it sells. His book is horrible. Like all things in this world that are despicable: drugs, prostitution, cigarettes, pornography, new country (to name a few), the badness of the book is devastating. You hate that it exists. You hate that people buy it. You hate that people buy it in huge quantities. You hate what the purchases say about the people. You hate what the purchase say about people in general. You hate what the purchases (when it is you doing the purchasing) say about you.

But, having said all that, I kinda like what he did the other day at that congressional hearing. He essentially said – “yeah, I’m a shooter. I think steroids, properly used can be good, but I also think they have no place in baseball.” Not too shabby. He might actually get baseball to get serious about steroids. I almost respect what he did.


Then I remember...of all the guys under oath, he had the least to lose. He already told all (an maybe a lie or two in the bargain); he’s not a hall-of-famer; his career is over; the public at large thinks he a schmuck, and none of his buddies from his diamond days are going to seek him out for good times. After all, how can you share friendship or intimacy with a rat fink?

And now a word for our (former) hero Mark McGwire…

(and can we pause here to note four things: first, congressmen (probably because they are, first and foremost politicians) are fiendishly clever (whoa and woe unto anyone called before a subcommittee - and particular caution to those who don’t want to plead the fifth – you’re in for a long da). Second, McGwire need not say that he used steroids. McGwire saying he used steroids would be the equivalent of Michael Jackson holding a press conference to announce that he’s a pathetic freak. Third, the best exchange of the hearings started with McGwire answering "...we're not here to talk about the past," to which a Congressman replied "well, I don't think we let the guys from Enron get away with that answer." Fourth, if you parse Sammy’s statement, it’s pretty clear he initially tried to get clever with the language. Saying “I have never used an illegal performance-enhancing drug” is not the same thing as saying “I have never used steroids.” Heck, it ain’t even the same thing as dropping the word illegal and saying “I have never used a performance-enhancing drug.” Later, Sammy said he has “never used a ban substance in the United States.” Still later than that (can we cite a language barrier?) when a congressman (more clever than Sammy by far and twice as nimble) read off the check list of denials (paraphrasing now) “Frank Thomas, Rafael Palmiero, Sammy Sosa, and Curt Schilling have all denied using steroids…you did deny using steroids, right Mr. Sosa?” Our friend, with his smiling face and his sprints to the outfield and his particularly buoyant bat, our friend was had.)

… It was not fun to see him (McGwire) taken down. I’m still not sure it should have happened. I can’t help but feel that baseball could be steroid-free without calling a retired player to the carpet like that. But…um… thanks for saving baseball that one summer.

Here’s my whole thing on steroids:

Steroids should be legal.
Steroids should probably be available only by prescription (some mechanism is needed to avoid abuse).
Steroid use by children should be prohibited.
Adequate enforcement and education should be directed toward preventing steroid use in children.
Employers should be allowed to prohibit steroid use just as they prohibit the use of other controlled substances.
Athletes should not be allowed (by terms of contract and/or on condition for admission to a particular league) to use steroids.
Athletes who use steroids (and there could be escalating penalties) should eventually be banned from sport.

Steroids improve your strength and therefore your quickness, but they can take so much away. People who use steroids are unpleasant and cannot control their temper. Men who use steroids get a big head and a small head at the same time. People who use steroids get acne and cancer and circulatory problems. Abuse of steroids can lead to tissue death and amputations. Steroids are hell on your major organs. People who use steroids in order to compete or excel in a world where, without them, they could not excel, are frauds.

But if consenting adults in the larger world want to look buff and cut, and those folks don’t mind a little erectile dysfunction, if those folks shoot and rub to their heart’s (dis)content so be it. My only request is that they put warning labels on the bottles:

“WARNING: Using steroids may cause you to end up like Jose Canseco or, natch, like Mark McGwire.”

mercredi, mars 16, 2005

"We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership."

The quote above is from our good friends, the neo-conservatives. By the way, who was the loser sissy-boy who said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself? Boy was he wrong!

Anyway, how is your day? Anything to be concerned about? Anything? How about here? Anything? Anything?

How about now?

Past Imperialist States

The Roman Empire
Great Britian

Current Imperialist State

The United States of America

Nationalism and Imperialism are Bad Therefore Paul Wolfowitz (who is a Nationalist and an Imperialist) is Bad

There are two ways to keep imperialism in place: militarily (consider the CIA backed overthrow of democratically elected Allende in Chile as one example, our regime change in Iraq as another and the entire history of imperialism advance through military means (see the list above)). Nationalism and Imperialism can also be advanced economically (consider especially the IMF and now...the World Bank).


Just to make sure. There are two ways to keep imperialism in place militarily (Paul Wolfowitz is the Deputy Secretary of a defense, a fouding neo-conservative, and a notorious hawk - one of the few unwavering proponents of the war in Iraq) and economically (Paul Wolfowitz may be nominated to lead the World Bank).

lundi, mars 14, 2005

Minnetopia was Trademarked

Conversation with a friend inspired an idea. The idea? I’m going to create my own city, and call it…

New Utopia

Here’s the master plan-


All are welcome. Because all are welcome, only those who welcome all are welcomed (so I guess all are not welcome).

If you have problems with gays or lesbians, if you have gender issues you’re working through, if you have racial prejudices, then New Utopia is not for you. You have to be down with the plan to live in New Utopia.

Here’s the rest of the plan. Growth will be limited to accommodate smart/reasonable growth.


House sizes will be limited to 500 square feet per occupant (two occupants = 1,000 square feet, four occupants = 2,000 square feet and so on). Citizens receive a 100 square foot bonus for each cat or dog residing on the premises limit 4 cats or dogs, etc.). Houses will be powered by renewable energy (wind, solar/photovoltaic, hydro-electric, biomass, etc.) and designed for maximum energy efficiency (creativity in design is encouraged). Lawns are allowed, but citizens are asked to keep it reasonable when it comes to lawn care. Fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and gas powered lawn mowers are not allowed. Sidewalks are required. Recycling is required. Composting is required. Those who cannot afford a house will be given a house by the community.


Just like on Mackinac Island, (gasoline powered) cars are not allowed (law enforcement personnel and public servants are granted an exception and are encouraged to use electric vehicles). We will have parking outside of New Utopia for use when visiting non-utopian communities. Initially, New Utopia will be small and bicycles and walking will be primary modes of transportation. As we grow (recognizing that growth is inevitable), we will add light rail transit or electric cars.


New Utopia will have daycare, pre-school, K-12, trade school, technical school and college (through trade school or bachelor’s or its equivalent).

Costs for child care and education are the responsibility of the entire community.

Each school will have excellent infrastructure, the best teachers available, strictly enforced student teacher ratios of at least 15 to one and no more than 100 students in any one daycare or pre-school, 200 students in one elementary school. 350 students in one junior high-school and 500 students in each high school.

Every school will have:

Orchestra and band
Physical Education
A library and a librarian
Age-appropriate health and sexuality education
A swimming pool
Computer labs
Science labs
Complete special education programs including (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, an alternatives for students with behavioral and cognitive challenges).
Vegetarian options in the cafeteria

For free trade school, technical school or college, some residency requirements may apply. Anyone who gains acceptance may attend the school, free tuition…not so much.


New Utopia will have a hospital and physicians for every required medical discipline. Alternative medicine will have equal status to western medicine. Mental health will have equal status to physical health. Healthcare for the individual is the responsibility of the entire community.

Law Enforcement/Public Services:

New Utopia will have a police department, a fire department, ambulances and paramedics. They will have really cool uniforms. We will have courts and halls of governance. We’ll think about how we respond to criminal activity if it comes up; our orientation is toward examination of the behavior and its roots causes. Punishment will not be the goal. Victims will be exalted, but revenge will not be our motivation.

Business Climate:

Businesses who want healthy, well-educated, high functioning , creative, kind, earth-loving people will come to New Utopia. No tax breaks will be given - business will pay their share. If you don’t want to come to New Utopia, we’re okay with that. Our expectation is that New Utopia will attract service providers, artists, farmers, craftspersons, consultants, musicians, writers, small business owners and larger multi-national corporations probably will want to have their headquarters and production facilities elsewhere. We realize some of our citizens will work outside of New Utopia. We realize that citizens of non-utopian communities will work in New Utopia. It’s all good.

Places of worship:

All faith traditions are respected. All faith traditions must comply with the standards for citizens of New Utopia (religions that are working through gender and sexual orientation issues may not wish to erect houses of worship in New Utopia). Religion is not permissible grounds for mistreating or judging a fellow citizen.


New Utopia will not have a flag. New Utopia will not have oaths, pledges or anthems.


Tax burdens will be allocated based on income. There will not be a property tax. There will not be a sales tax. There will not be a sin tax. There will not be a gasoline tax (there will be no gasoline). At the end of each year, citizens will be assessed a portion of the overall community expense based on the percentage their income represents of the entire community income. So, if Citizen A’s income is 3% of the entire community’s income, then Citizen A will be responsible for 3% of the community’s expenses. If Citizen B’s income is .00015% of the entire community’s income, then Citizen B will be responsible for .00015% of the community’s expenses.


New Utopia will be governed by a Constitution. These foundational principles will be included in the Constitution. Changes to the Constitution, amendments or alterations, requires assent from 100% of the voting-age populace. The voting age is 16. New Utopia will not have a mayor or a city council. New Utopia will have elected facilitators. The facilitators cannot enact legislation, but they can approve the tax request, and they can prepare ideas for consideration by the larger community. All new laws (laws without constitutional implications) will be submitted to the community and will require the support of at least 60% of New Utopia citizens.

I know I’m painting with a broad brush, here, but I’m curious to know your thoughts on 4 things:

1. What is New Utopia missing?

2. Would you live in such a city?

3. Would New Utopia fail?

4. Would only the elderly, the sick, the poor and those with special needs live in New Utopia or would some of the other features (free education, excellent air and water quality, excellent schools, free healthcare, openness to all) make for a diverse community?

jeudi, mars 10, 2005


If you are liberal, what one book or article would you like to have conservatives read?

If you are a conservative, what one book or article would you have liberals read?

As for me, it's time I announce myself. I am a little on the liberal side.

Anyway, I happened upon this article which I've referenced it on this site once before. I wish I could get all Americans to read it but especially Conservatives. It is a call to conscience.

I have read it twice now, and I find it to be a stunning rebuttal to Smithian economics. It points out a dishonesty in our policies, and how we ignore the poor. It may take awhile to read it, but believe me when I tell you that it is worth your time.

Please read it and encourage others to do the same. If I could get one conservative to read this, it would make my year -even if they think it's hooey it would make my year.

Toward that end, in exchange for a conservative reader telling me they read this article, I will read any book or article they recommend, and I will write about it here at iliveinminnesota.

I'll make a short post today. Read Edney instead.

mercredi, mars 09, 2005

Let's Talk about the Earth Today

I never thought I’d write this, but:

Go General Motors! Thanks also to the federal government for collaborating with GM on this important work. We can do more.

Let’s talk about the earth today. I love the earth, man. Do you love the earth? The earth is so cool. Do you ever find yourself thinking that? The earth is it. Even though it isn't April 22nd, let’s talk about the earth today.

Easy Question Number One:

If you had a choice between powering your home or car with clean renewable energy or dirty non-renewable energy, which would you choose? [Republicans, powered by cash from big oil, support dirty non-renewable energy]

Easy Question Number Two:

If you were the President of the United States and you had a choice between investing in clean renewable energy (RE) or investing in dirty non-renewable energy (NRE) (including the displacement of wildlife and wars against Iraq), what percentage of your dollars would you use for RE and what percentage would you use for NRE?

While Bush is still hoping to savage the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (searching for oil like he searches for WMD), serious scientists, advancing the dream of a visionary President, are talking about how we can power our world more intelligently. Support this wisdom, please.

I saw a bumper sticker a few weeks ago. It was on a Geo, and it said – “This car gets 33 mpg. What are you doing to protect the homeland?” So I ask the same question to you: Are you protecting the homeland? Is your car mean or green?

mardi, mars 08, 2005

The Life of the Working Poor, A Case for Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour.

Did you look at your watch to confirm that it is 2005? I did.

$5.15 per hour. Let’s do the math.

$5.15 x 40 hours a week = $206 per week for full time work.

$206 x 52 weeks per year = $10,712.

Because I live in Minnesota, I will use Minnesota as an example of how ridiculous this is.

Let’s get really silly for a second, and assume that a minimum wage worker, we’ll call him Frank Forgotten, lives alone and somehow found an apartment for $400 per month. ($10,712 minus $4,800 leaves $5,912). For the record, it is very difficult to find an apartment in the twin cities for $400 per month, but I want to give every advantage to our conservative brothers and sisters.

Also, let’s assume that Frank needs transportation to get to work and to the grocery store, etc. Let’s also assume that Frank can use the least expensive bus pass all the time (he never rides the express bus, and he never rides during peak hours – absurd, but bear with me). That pass is $42 per month or $504 per year.

$5,912 minus $504 leaves $5,408.

To continue the silliness, let’s assume that Frank’s water, gas and electric only come up to $100 per month. They won’t, but let’s assume that they do.

$5,408 minus $1,200 leaves $4,208.

Let’s also assume that Frank can eat for $100 per month (again, impossible, but humor me).

$4,208 minus $1,200 leaves $3,008.

So we’ve done food, shelter and transportation. But we have not done clothing. Let’s allow Frank to spend $500 on clothes per year.

$3,008 minus $500 leaves $2,508.

Let’s add $40 per month so that Frank can have a phone (but let’s not allow him to use it for long distance; if he has a cell phone, he can never go over his allotted minutes).

$2,508 minus $480 leaves $2,028. Okay, good. Frank has food, clothing, transportation and shelter, and he still has two grand left for “walkin’ around money.” Wait. I forgot something.

Frank has not paid taxes yet.

The federal income tax is 15% for single filers like Frank who have an income between $7,151 - $29,050. Source.

So, 15% of $10,712 is approximately $1,607.

$2,028 minues $1,607 leaves Frank $421.

But the State needs her pound of flesh too. The state income tax for Frank is 5.35%. Source.

5.35% of $10,712 is $573.

$421 minus $573 is -$152.

And Frank has not gotten sick. He has not had an injury. He does not have a gym membership, nor does he tithe at church. Frank does not have a bicycle or running shoes. Frank has no fun. Frank cannot buy a gift for his mother or father or any siblings. Frank never goes to a concert nor does he rent roller skates at the park. Frank has no margin for error at all. Frank has not paid his Social Security taxes. Frank does not have medical insurance or dental insurance. If his employer offered it, he is not likely to be able to afford it. If Frank gets a toothache, my advice is bourbon and a string (borrow the bourbon BTW). If Frank’s vision blurs, he’s in trouble. Frank cannot go out to dinner. Frank, at this point, does not have a hunting license or a fishing license. Frank cannot go to the home opener. Frank cannot buy the new 50 cent album or rent videos at Blockbuster. Frank does not have a television or a radio or a DVD player. Frank does not have a newspaper subscription. My advice to Frank is: avoid coffee, because on the weekends, when he is not getting free coffee at work, he is going to have impressive caffeine withdrawal headaches. Even though Frank has no money for condoms, Frank can have no dependents – ever. Frank does not make a living wage for even one person.

The Democrats propose that we raise the minimum wage $2.10 over the next 26 months.

Republicans, seeing the embarrassing largesse in that proposal, want $1.10 over the next 18 months.

On an unrelated item, have you seen this?

Or this?

We can do better. You know we can. We can distribute the pie more equitably. You know we can. We can insure a living wage for people who are willing to work a 40 hour week and still make sure that the middle class, the upper middle class and the wealthy can buy gasoline for their multiple cars that they use to travel between their multiple houses.

lundi, mars 07, 2005


Mrs. Duf and I just bought a digital camera. Don't hate.

Unrelated item: status of 2004 Bonus - spent.

Unrelated addendum: status of potential 2005 Bonus - spent.

Even though I know my pictures will never be as good as the photos posted by this artist/blogger (especially see his post "Snowy Night"), someday I'd like to put pictures on my site like this blogger and this blogger.

Dare to dream I always say - dare to dream.

Problem is, I don't know how to do it.

Can someone help a brutha out please? Also, please make your instructions painstakingly simple...I was a political science major.

mercredi, mars 02, 2005

"Affordable Health Insurance for the Middle Class? Yeah, Okay, Just a Sec' I'm Really Busy on More Pressing Matters..."

Two Minnesota legislators (and I’ll let you guess which party these geniuses represent) have presented legislation that seeks to prevent professors at public universities from pushing ideology. No, I didn’t make it up. You can read about it here, and yes, it is part of a national effort backed by some wealthy moron with too much free time and too much anger that he has such a big head and most of it is bone. I only wonder who wrote the bill and what color crayon he used.


Can we just call this what it is? A widdle-biddy self-esteem problem that conservatives have.

Follow my bullet-proof logic chain:

College professors are learned.
College professors are smart.
College professors are experts in designated fields.
College professors are altruistic optimists (many could make more money in the private sector)
College professors are overwhelmingly liberal.
Therefore liberalism is overwhelming favored by the learned, the smart, by those with expertise and by altruistic optimists.

The inverse is also true.

Superficial cynics who are not-learned, not smart, and lack expertise are not liberal.

People who are not liberal are conservative. Therefore...

Conservatives are superficial cynics who are not learned, not smart, and who lack expertise.

Man, once I commence to decipherin’… wooooooweee, I get a powerful hankerin’ for some rheumatism medicine! But I digress…

Who cares that 95% of all PhD economists know that supply-side economics is a ridiculous and failed policy. Guess what? Supply side economics is a ridiculous and failed policy.

By the way, I know my logic chain is flawed. I merely use it to point out how thinking motivated by a low self-esteem (however justified the low self-esteem is) leads to absurd conclusions.

Even if you aren’t troubled by the effort to kill academic freedom, please be troubled by the fact that it’s nearly impossible to define what ideology is. For example, will professors who teach evolution come under fire? What about teachers who think the earth is more than a few thousand years old. Will they be silenced? Fired? In 2009, when teaching HISTORY 0401: History of the American Presidents, will a professor who says “President George W. Bush was the worst President of all time” be terminated even if she presents the mountain of indisputable evidence to support her assertion?

If you don’t care about the long rich history of academic freedom, if you don’t have any problem with legislators intervening in the classroom, if you feel it will be easy to define what constitutes personal political or ideological beliefs, at least mourn the attempt to kill one potentially effective teaching method.

Side question: why is it that as I get older I’m less able to suffer fools gladly? Oops, I’m digressing again…

One of my favorite college professors, in a class called current American foreign policy, frequently took outlandish positions and challenged us to undermine them. Initially, we would struggle. It was hard to dispute even the most ridiculous policies.

Professor: Glasnost is bad; the USSR should remain communist.
Students: No, because democracy is better.
Professor: Why is it better?
Students: Well, because we have more freedoms and stuff…

By the end of the semester, we did a much better job. We knew concepts from foreign affairs, we knew our history and prevailing ideologies in western foreign policy, we understood the world better, and all of those tools combined to make us much better sparing partners for the good professor. I might assume any number of things about his political leanings or his ideological preferences, but they would be exactly that – assumptions. I’m troubled by the prospect that some are so threatened by ideas. I’m sad that conservatives don’t feel they can present opposing viewpoints successfully. I’m perplexed that folks who are afraid of liberal ideology don’t just send their young impressionable children to lesser schools where superficial cynics who are not-learned, not smart, and lack expertise try to teach. Schools like Bob Jones, Oral Roberts, the Citadel, and Kansas State University.

Quick question: is that “Hootie” of Hootie and the Blowfish in those new Burger King commercials? Man, I hope not. Um…where was I? Oh, yes, now I remember…

Those who “author” legislation seeking to limit the free exchange of ideas in our universities not only put our public institutions at a disadvantage to our private institutions, they not only limit pedagogical approaches, they not only run the risk of labeling as ideology items which are fact-based and indisputable, they not only write laws that would be all but impossible to enforce, they not only waste real legislative time that really could be better spent addressing real issues that really effect real people in real ways, but in so doing, they showcase their tremendous ignorance and fear and lack of self-confidence.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: those who have the strength of their convictions do not fear opposing views, they welcome them. And, unlike the logical chain I linked up earlier in this post, in this instance, the inverse is true as well: those who do not welcome opposing views lack the strength of their convictions.

Now ask yourself…why do they lack the strength of their convictions?

Soldier's Heart or Nostalgia

Last night, Frontline had an excellent show on the psychological effects of combat on soldiers. I learned a lot watching it.

After Vietnam, 1 in 3 combat soldiers had some psychological injury that was noted upon return to civilian life. Imagine the impact to our combat veterans, and imagine the impact to their families and to the companies they work for. Alcoholism is a common result of these injuries.

They also traced the history of these psychological injuries.

After the Civil War, it was called nostalgia or soldier’s heart.

After World War I, it was called shell shock.

After World War II, it was called combat fatigue.

Only after Vietnam, with the expansion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder recognized as a mental illness directly attributable to being too long in the theater - to seeing and doing too many traumatic things.

Worse, the military has a tendency (it’s changing, but it’s still there) to discourage soldiers from seeking treatment for psychological injury. Problems that might be checked before they get out of control can become fatal because soldiers are so concerned about the stigmas associated with getting treatment. Worst of all is to ask for treatment while you are on active duty.

Anyway, I hope we will devote more time, energy and resources to expanding care for our combat veterans.

mardi, mars 01, 2005

On Euthanasia

I received this email today regarding a friend who lives in Arizona and whose father is terminally ill:

When Kristine got to Texas she found out that her father had not actually passed away. The Dr. called her grandmother to tell her they had found no brain activity and that he was brain dead. The message was misunderstood and calls were made stating he passed on. Kristine flew out to Texas Friday on the 1st flight she could get. They had a family meeting with the Dr. on Saturday and decided to take him off Life Support. During previous attempts to take him off, he flat lined so Dr.'s only gave him 2 hrs to live once it was removed. This time he was able to breathe on his own and is still breathing on his own as of this morning but with some difficulty. He has been taken off all but one of his medications and has been removed from all monitoring machines. There is nothing more that the Dr.'s can do for him so they are looking to send him home for his final days, or find a facility for him.

Euthanasia is much discussed these days. It has been prominently featured in film since the days of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Terri Schiavo is a regular on the news. I have two personal experiences that bring the topic to mind for me. I just shared one, and now I want to tell you about the other. I want to tell you about my friend Paris.

Paris died on December 26, 2004.

I moved to Minnesota in August of 1990. I was a student at the University of Minnesota’s law school, and all of my friends were law students. Our conversations were all the same. “Professor Marshall is so brutal!” Do you understand the rule against perpetuities?” “What is the holding of Katko v. Briney?”

The first friend I made in Minnesota who was not an attorney or law student, was my friend Paris Bickharry. I learned his last name when I read his funeral announcement in the paper. It just so happens that Paris was the man who cut my hair. For 14 years, I would go to his shop. I would say nothing to him about what I wanted my hair to look like, he cut it just the way I like it. He cut my hair when I barely had money to pay him; he cut my hair once when I forgot my wallet. He was there when I graduated from law school. He was there when I passed the bar. He was there when my dog died. He was there when I lost a love. He was there when I got married. He was there when my daughter was born. “Paris, I need a haircut so that my new baby girl won’t see me looking all ruffed up.” My goodness, he was so happy for me on that day.

I hope I was half the friend to Paris that he was to me. Of course, I asked after his family and his life. He was an outstanding fisherman (his shop was full of pictures of him holding up a line of fish). His son goes to the University of Wisconsin. His daughter attends St. Bernard school in St. Paul. He was married to Kathy, and he loved his son, his daughter and his wife very much. I know because he told me all the time.

Paris was no fan of the Bush administration, and he would rail on against racism and classism at the slightest provocation. Is it any wonder I loved him so?

Paris was my favorite personal vendor (my brother in law taught me that term – we all have personal vendors and business vendors – when he explained the concept to me, he said “Paris is one of your favorite personal vendors”). The one thing I can say on my behalf is this: almost all of my Minnesota friends can tell you the name of my barber. “Looks like you went to Paris!” My friend Kelli would say that to me all the time. It was such a joke too…his shop (the name of it was “Paris’ Little Hair House”) was far from the glamour and grandeur of the city on the Seine.

Sometime in 2004, Paris found out that he had inoperable and terminal cancer. He would not tell me what kind nor would he tell me that it was terminal, and I never understood why until he died. He moved his shop from the familiar place close to the University and opened doors near his home (not far from my own) in the North End of St. Paul (he changed the name of his shop to “Paris’ North End Barbers”). It was a dream to open a neighborhood shop. It was his dream to have a neighborhood place where men (and women) of all races would get their haircut together. Twice, when he cut my hair there, I was sitting next to a white man who was getting his hair cut at the same time (something I had never done before (and I’m darn near 40). He cut hair there for 3 months. Man, I can’t tell you how happy he looked at his new place. As long as I live, I will never forget seeing him in that shop for the first time. I will never forget the look on his face, and I will never forget the hug he gave me.

Paris knew he was dying all along. He hired his replacement. He gathered his family around, and he said goodbye. I’m told he passed away peacefully in the company of his wife and his children.

If I found out tomorrow that I had the same cancer that Paris had, this is what I would do:

I would give thanks for my time on earth. My life has been a happy one for the most part.

I would gather my friends and enemies and coworkers and family near and tell them what I’m told hospice patients are taught to say –

First, I would say “thank you.”

Then I would say “I’m sorry.” I know I’ve stepped on toes. I know I’ve trespassed. I would apologize.

I would say “I forgive you;” I hold no grudges. I hate no one, but I would want everyone to know that there is nothing negative that I would carry with me.”

Last, I would say to everyone “I love you.”

I would go to California and play a round of golf at Pebble Beach, and Spyglass Hill and The Links at Spanish Bay (while there, I’d drop in on my friend Tim in the San Mateo area)

I would come home and have a big party. Then, I’d wait for death to come. I would not end my life (but I would want to).

And here’s why: I have life insurance that my family would need. Second, it’s illegal.

When one is terminally ill, it would be nice if they had the option to alleviate their suffering and make a decision to end their lives. I support euthanasia because it provides options for those who want them. Yes, it’s true, you can’t punish the dead, and (some) people can (and do) make their own decision to end it, but there is dignity in allowing the terminally ill some sanctioned control over their destiny. We have the capacity for this kindness, and we have the ability to determine (in many instances) that an individual is terminally ill and will (with certainty) die soon.

A quick thought on Terri Schiavo. I have no idea what to do there. I can only say this. Neither my wife nor I want to be kept alive using life-support or other heroic means. I once had a living will made, but I need to update it (my attorney reads this blog from time to time, and “hello dear, I need to update”). I respect and love my in-laws a great deal, but if (horror of horrors) my wife were in a PVS (persistent vegetative state – and I understand that is in dispute with Ms. Schiavo), knowing her wishes, I would challenge my in-laws if they wanted to employ heroic means. I would hope my right to assert her wishes would not be limited by any mistakes I made after she became comatose. The challenging part of the case for me is not whether she should have the right to die. It’s not even whether she is in a PVS or not. It’s definitely not whether or not her husband is a jerk. It’s determining what her wishes are. The moral of that story for me is: people should write things down.

I know for a fact that my friend Paris wanted to live. He did not have life insurance. He could have made the decision to end his life without financial repercussions to his family (if anything it might have saved his estate some financial hardships they face now), but he didn’t. By not doing it, he got to fulfill his dream and to spend a few more days with his loved ones. I hope he felt he had options, and I hope that if he did, he was glad for the decision he made.

Two families facing a difficult decision: In one case a family decided to hasten the journey. In another the family waited until the time arrived. My only point is this: there is no universally correct answer. What we want for all families who face these difficult decisions is options.