Archive for July, 2013

Practicing What Jesus Preached about Healthcare for the Poor

July 29, 2013

You could say that maybe if we had thousands of philanthropic physicians like Grant Scarborough and those who support him, our country could provide affordable health care for all.  Maybe we wouldn’t need single-payer or Medicare for all to solve the crisis of exploding costs and millions without healthcare insurance.  Of  course, that alone would not solve the problem.

Dr. Scarborough is Founder and Executive Director of Mercy Med.  It’s a religiously inspired non-profit organization that provides healthcare for the poor.  He and his paramedics treat anyone who walks in the door of his clinic in the former CB&T banch building on 2nd Avenue whether they have insurance or not.  Speaking to the Rotary  Club of Columbus, he said, “individuals come in and pay an average of 28 dollars and get over 300 dollars of health  care. It’s a great deal.”  If someone comes in who is  making more than $45,000 a year, he’ll charge them 45 dollars for an office visit.  What if you are homeless and can’t pay? No one gets turned away.

It’s also a great deal for hospitals with emergency rooms, because clinics like his save them millions of dollars.  Many of those who use clinics like his would simply go to the hospital emergency rooms for their treatment if those clinics  did  not exists.

He is motivated by the lesson of the Good Samaritan parable that the Bible says was told by Jesus Christ.  The Good Samaritan stopped to help the man who  had been beaten and robbed.  Took him to an inn and gave the  innkeeper money to care for him, and said he would back and give the innkeeper more if more was needed.  And Dr. Scarborough invites us to  join him in his quest.  He said, “I encourage you to get involved with us or with another ministry, or with another country, and consider, and then be kind to the poor by loving your neighbor.”

I said earlier that having thousands of doctors like Dr. Scarborough might solve our healthcare crisis.  However, physicians ares only part of the picture.  There are other elements involved, things like hospitals, labs,  diagnostic centers, and pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

Just How Powerful is Your Vote in the U.S. Senate?

July 21, 2013
111th U.S. Senate (Photo by U.S. Senate Photo Studio)

111th U.S. Senate (Photo by U.S. Senate Photo Studio)








If you live in New York, your vote counts a lot less in the U.S. Senate than if you live in Vermont.  Both states have two senators. A senator from lightly-populated Vermont represents 312,000 people. A senator from heavily-populated New York represents 9,600,000 people.  Is that fair?



What’s the Answer to Hate?

July 16, 2013


Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1989. Phot6o by Alan Light.

Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1989. Photo by Alan Light.

In 1968, when I was working at WAGA-TV in Atlanta,  I interviewed the late and great entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., who had flown into the city to attend Dr. Martin Luther King’s funeral.  Standing at the side of the small plane that brought him, I asked him, in essence, what was it going to take to end the hatred that was evidenced by the assasination of the civil rights leader. He gave me a slight smile and simply  said, as best as I can remember the quote, “Love … for people to love one another.” He said that was what Dr. King wanted.

It’s so simple, but, as the lessons of history tell us, it is so hard for a lot of people to practice when it concerns people who are, as a class, culture, ethnicity, or religion, different from one another. In my view, though, progress has been made in a number of countries, including ours. 

A Music Man Will Lead The Columbus Public School Parade

July 9, 2013

“But, I’m not Harold Hill!”

David F. Lewis, MCSD Superintendent fInalist

David F. Lewis, MCSD Superintendent finalist

I let David Lewis know that  I was pleased that he is a “music man.”

To which he replied, “I am, but I’m not Harold Hill.”

Harold Hill, as you probably know, was the music con man in the modern Broadway and Hollywood  classic musical, “The Music Man.”

Lewis, who was the Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for Polk County School District in Florida, is the  finalist for  the  job MCSD School Superintendent.  After the public hearing time lapses, the MCSD School Board is expected to hire him.

What inspired me about the pick is his music education background. Before he worked his way up as middle and high school principal, and Associate Superintendent in  Polk County, he was Director of Bands.

Being a member of the late Bob Barr’s original Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket  Band, I am  familiar with what a music man can do for disadvantaged students.  The legendary, award-winning band director turned around a lot of lives, inspiring teenagers to not only become accomplished musicians, but become successful and useful contributors to their communities.

David Lewis appears to have the  same talents as an education administrator. School Board Chair Rob Varner said,  for instance, his school district has  had “seven consecutive years of increased graduation rates during tenure as Senior Director of High Schools and Associate Superintendent.”

And he still has a love for school music, with his district being the 2013 recipient of “Best Communties for Music Education from the National Association of Music Merchants.”

Increasing the academic scores for Title I students, those who receive federal government financial assistance, is a huge challenge for him.  We have a lot of those in Muscogee County. It appears he has had a great deal of success  in that area in Polk County.  So that is encouraging.

I told him that he came to the right place because Columbus is  a great town for  school bands, or, at least, it  was.  He said, “And it  will be again.”

I replied, “That’s great!” Indeed it is.

“T’aint Funny, McGee”

July 8, 2013

…and Paula

Here I go showing my age again by quoting Molly’s reaction to Fibber McGee’s attempt at humor on their 1930s and ’40s NBC radio program.  There is a reason. It came to mind as I reflected on the  absurd amount of coverage given to TV cooker Paula Deen because of her alleged joking use of the “n” word, which she is said to have done many years ago.  Reporting it briefly would have been all right, but to give the amount of time it got on national news programs when there is a lot of really important news going on in the world seems to me a bit irresponsible.   

The story also made me reflect on the nature of prejudiced humor and  Sigmund Freud saying that hostile humor is veiled aggression, a way to attack an adversary.  He said, “By making our enemy small, inferior, despicable or comic we achieve in a roundabout way the enjoyment of overcoming them. It’s an emotional catharsis for repressed aggression.”

There is an interesting article on why prejudiced jokes are not funny.  You can read it at this LINK.

David McCullough says We’re Historically Illiterate

July 2, 2013

It’s not a new phenomenon.  Some students who excel in math and computer courses flunk or do poorly in history courses. I’ve known a few.

There are good reasons for that. For instance, once a math geek understands the logic of math problem solving,  he/she can figure out answers without doing a lot of homework.  Not so with history.  You have  to read and remember what you have read to pass history tests.

Another is that so many young people don’t believe history has any practical  value.  Who cares about all of those historical dates? Besides, memorizing them is a pain in the neocortex.

Anyone who  reflects on the  fact that  we are our histories has to see the value of studying the subject.  The same is true for our  country. How can you possibly know who you are if you don’t know who  you were?  The moment a thought enters your head it’s history. As some philosophers tell us, there is no present, only past and future.

My favorite historian, bestseller David McCullough, who wrote, among other things, histories of  Presidents John  Adams,  Truman,  and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the  Panama Canal,  is quite concerned that our country has become, in his view, historically illiterate.  That’s what he  told Morley Safer on 60 Minutes.

He says that thought really came to him when a young Western U.S. college student revealed to him that she didn’t know the original 13 colonies were all east of the Alleghenies.  He said he ran into similar experiences at other colleges where he spoke..

He blames not just the  students and their teachers, but all of us.  It is important for parents to encourage their children to learn the  stories of  history and to discuss family  history with them.. As for as history teachers are concerned, they should emphasize the stories of history, not dates.  This is not  a new idea, and I know some very good history professors who have practiced that for a long time, but it doesn’t hurt to remind those who  don’t.

So, tonight when your family  is gathered around the supper table,  direct some of the  conversation toward family and American history.   Of course, you’ll have  to make them stop texting first.


Television’s Intellectual Ghetto is Still Somewhat with Us

July 1, 2013

Thank goodness!

The term “intellectual ghetto” was originated by TV critics years ago.

Since the inception of network television,  Sunday has been the main day for the networks to broadcast  their “prestige” programs.  Fortunately,  the tradition is being continued by CBS, which has been running two great magazine programs, CBS News Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes for decades. CBS News Sunday Morning has been on the air since January of  1979.  60 Minutes, which is more investigative, went on the air on September 24, 1968. Wikipedia tells us that in 2002, the program was ranked number 6 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.  It is also credited with being the most successful program in the history of television.  I’m glad.

On this weekend before the 4th of July, Morley Safer repeated a compelling and engrossing piece with historian David McCullough.  I’ll have more on that. Stay tuned.