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Jan 2: Replay – Climate Change Consensus and the Skeptics
Dec 27th, 2009 by Sam

Replay of December 12th broadcast:  Climate change consensus and the skeptics – what’s the problem??

Dec 26: A country’s social health is tied to economic equality
Dec 19th, 2009 by Sam

Segment 1

The Importance of Economic Equality:

What if there was a way to raise a population’s life expectancy and reduce its rates of crime, suicide, teenage pregnancy and mental illness, among other social problems? British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett believe they have found one. In The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, published in the U.S. on Dec. 22, they present data suggesting that almost every indicator of social health in wealthy societies is related to its level of economic equality. (See the data here). Comparing statistics between developed economies and within the U.S., Wilkinson and Pickett argue GDP and overall wealth matter little to wealthy societies. Rather, it is the gap between the rich and poor that is telling. They spoke to TIME about what they believe are revolutionary findings.

Segment 2

Tom Clark; Director, Center for Naturalism

Explains what Naturalists celebrate during the holiday season, where they find meaning in life, and how they answer questions of ultimate concern.

Liberate Yourself and Enjoy the Holidays
Dec 19th, 2009 by Sam

Thoughts from  Cause and Effect World:  Don Leka

I want to share with you something that our family decided several years ago that has made all the difference in our enjoying the holiday season. Namely, we all agreed to stop exchanging gifts at Christmastime.

When we removed the economic burden and joyless hassle of shopping and wrapping and sending consumer items to each other, we found the freedom to concentrate on the other, should I say the real, purpose of the holidays. You know, getting together with friends and family, celebrating the religious or spiritual aspects of the holidays, enacting or creating traditions to commemorate this special time of the year.

If a situation arises that truly calls for some sort of gift-giving gesture, we make a charitable donation in the name of the gift recipient – say to a homeless shelter, or to one of my favorites, Heifer International. Nothing compares to telling someone you gave a goat in his name to a needy family in Ecuador.

But what about the kids? Isn’t Christmas for them?, you may ask. Well, my modest proposal is intended to reduce suffering, not enhance it, so if you are worried that the kids would be sorely disappointed if they were denied a long-anticipated morning devoted to tearing open numerous packages, then go right ahead – just make it for the kids only. But you might consider just what lessons your kids learn from this ritual, and whether some alternatives are better. Try simple changes such as giving presents at unexpected times over the holiday period; this random schedule can also make it easier to avoid or explain the myth of Santa Claus.

Of course not everyone wants to decline being part of the shopfest. If you enjoy the bustling crowds and you are eager to arrive at the shopping mall at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, this proposal is not for you. But in our family, the day after Thanksgiving is for sharing a leisurely dim sum lunch at a Chinese restaurant – now that is my idea of a great holiday tradition.

Then there is the holiday dilemma: real Christmas trees or fake? There is no dilemma for my daughter in Boulder, Colorado. She goes out and finds an attractive dead branch, perhaps 4 or 5 feet long, and strips away any remaining leaves. Then she and her two kids set up the branch and place all their decorations on it. The economics and the symbolism are far superior to wondering which exploitative seasonal tree industry should receive our dollar. And I think it looks terrific.

Please don’t take my commentary as a traditional rant against the commercialization of Christmas. Retailers have every right to try and hijack the holidays for their purposes. But it is not your patriotic duty to go along with them and let them do it.

And I am not here to denounce materialism in modern life. If you want to own lots of things, maybe to play with them or just look at them or display them to impress other people, go right ahead, with my blessing

I have a more subversive message buried within this proposal of not giving gifts. That is, God did not command, request, or even suggest that you give somone a gift at Christmastime. God has confirmed to me that she never said any such thing. That goes for all the holiday traditions, which are 200 years old or less. But whether a particular tradition is ancient or a Disney invention, you have the power to pick and choose which traditions are worth keeping and which are a drag. That power is liberating, and I commend it to you.

The approach I am describing with respect to Christmas is to decide for yourself what parts make sense to you and make you and your family happy, and then ignore the parts that do not make sense or make you unhappy. The reference point is your own common sense, not what you are told or what everyone else is doing.

In fact, I confess to following this approach in just about everything. But this recommendation becomes controversial when one moves to areas that are governed by tradition and obedience to authority. The epithet “cafeteria Christian” comes to mind when you start choosing for yourself which parts of dogma to accept and which to reject. You especially run afoul of those members of the priestly class who do not want to give communion to those people whose political views are contrary to the priest’s dictates. But the notion of deciding for yourself about religious practices has a distinguished history. Just read Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 14, which is usually summed up in the phrase “God Alone is Lord of the Conscience.”

And if you decide to join the folks who make their own decisions, based upon reason and common sense rather than upon tradition and authority figures, all I can say is Welcome to Cause and Effect World.

Happy Holidays everybody.

Don Leka

Dec 19: Healthcare – so NOW what??!! A doctor’s view
Dec 19th, 2009 by Sam

December 19, 2009

Segments 1 & 2: Single payer healthcare

Dr. Geoff Clark, retired medical doctor who practiced in New Hampshire for over 30 years, will tell us why he thinks “single payer” is still the best system for America. With feeling! And perhaps shed some light on why the American Medical Association is against it, what other things they’ve been against, and where the heck we go from here!

The following links were provided by Dr. Clark:

Worldwide statistics on health:

Infoplease – Health and Social Statistics

World Health Organization – Health Statistics and health information systems

Polls of doctors on Single Payer Healthcare that show broad support:

Western PA Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare (numerous polls, including Kaiser Health, Time Magazine, Grove Insight Opinion Research, New York Times/CBS News)

New Hampshire Medical Society: Two thirds of New Hampshire physicians, including 81% of primary care clinicians, indicated they “would favor a simplified payor system in which public funds, collected through taxes, were used to pay directly for services to meet the basic healthcare needs of all citizens.”

On whether the American Medical Association represents doctors:

Position on single payer Liasson reports that AMA opposes any public plan, ignoring AMA’s inconsistency | Media Matters for America

Percent of Physicians as members NBC’s Guthrie falsely suggests AMA represents “the nation’s doctors” | Media Matters for America

Other Physician Organizations:

Physicians for a National Health Program

National Physicians Alliance

This American Life Programs

#391 This American Life

#392 This American Life

Segment 3: Thoughts from Cause and Effect World

Sometimes we try to get a little deeper, a little more profound, here on The Samantha Clemens Show. So naturally, we turn to a self-described “recovering lawyer” to take us down that path. Don Leka, who a Musician as well as a Recovering Lawyer, shares his essay “Liberate Yourself and Enjoy the Holidays.” But how, Don? How?

Podcast

Poll Reveals Trauma of Joblessness in U.S.
Dec 15th, 2009 by Sam

If you haven’t lived it you can’t imagine….

Poll Reveals Trauma of Joblessness in U.S.

More than half of the nation’s unemployed workers have borrowed money from friends or relatives since losing their jobs. An equal number have cut back on doctor visits or medical treatments because they are out of work.

Having been through this, I can say that social isolation is one of the most difficult things… You can’t afford anything, so you can’t initiate anything with anyone, and it can feel humiliating to have others pay for you.

During the last recession I finally got a job (which I had to pay 1 month’s pay of the annual salary to get) that took me near Peoria IL. There were fathers trying to get work mowing lawns, but there just weren’t enough people who could afford to pay someone to mow a law. Two of the women I worked with came in with black eyes. And those were just the bruises we saw… It’s brutal out there.

Dec 12: Climate change consensus & the skeptics – what’s the problem??
Dec 12th, 2009 by Sam

December 12, 2009

Climate change

Outside the United States, the world is pretty much on board with the notion that the climate is changing in profound ways and that human activity is partially the cause. Within the United States however, there is a stubborn minority who believe it is all hype, or a natural occurrence, or a conspiracy by scientists, politicians, environmentalists and other overt and covert liberals. They reject the notion that there is a scientific consensus, they believe the insurance companies’ risk assessments with which they price their products are simply jumping on the bandwagon, and so forth. We look at the scientific consensus and what the skeptics have to say about them, and also pose few questions from a Green IQ test we stumbled upon.

We’re joined by Brenda Ekwurzel, Federal Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists.

The unlucky

We get an update on how things are going at the Somerville Homeless Coalition from Mark Alston-Follansbee, Executive Director.  Personal experiences, funding, what works, who helps.

Podcast

Peer-reviewed science vs emails
Dec 11th, 2009 by Sam

From the Pew Center on Global Climate Change:

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful we base policy decisions on peer-reviewed science instead of emails

The kerfuffle over email correspondence hacked from a server at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit is making climate change deniers giddy. But just like all the other non-smoking guns they’ve waived around over the years, this “mushroom cloud” will soon blow away. Nothing has come to light that undermines scientific assessments of the climate system, which are firmly anchored in peer-reviewed scientific publications, not emails.

Will Big Business Save the Earth?
Dec 6th, 2009 by Sam

Jared Diamond makes the case that some businesses have become among the world’s strongest positive forces for environmental sustainability…  Now I gotta say, I have greatly admired Jared since “Guns, Germs and Steel” so I feel like i gotta listen….

He cites examples with three companies:  Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Chevron…

Dec 5: The Senate Election: Filling Ted’s Shoes
Dec 5th, 2009 by Sam

December 5, 2009

US Senate Race for Ted Kennedy’s seat

Joining us:

David S Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix

Tony Schinella of Politizine.com

and:

Bill Clinton speaks to New Hampshire Democrats

President Obama’s Afghanistan policies

Podcast

US Senate race in Massachusetts…
Dec 4th, 2009 by Sam

How each Democratic candidate would govern.

Is it an old-boy network?

And this contribution by Alex Beam certainly ‘elevates’ the conversation by focusing on Martha Coakley’s attractiveness.  Which is absurd, given that it’s Scott Brown who was a model and posed nude for Cosmopolitan (see prior post below).  (Anybody got a picture of Alex Beam’s derriere??  I want to comment on THAT.)

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