Tag Archives: Ethics

Please Die Already

Rage.

Rage.

There has been quite a hullabaloo recently about the healthcare reform bill, incited mainly by this man and this woman. Why are they ranting and raving about Democrats creating “death panels” that will decide whether or not the elderly† or mentally disabled‡ continue to receive medical treatment? Can’t they see that America is chock full of people ripe for Death’s annual picking?

The Democrats want people to have access to “end of life counseling.” That is a nice way of them saying “we want to encourage you to die without eating up millions of millions of dollars in care.” And the elderly and infirm DO eat up millions of dollars; 80% of the money you spend on healthcare will be spent during the last three months of your life. Is it really worth it? To spend hour after hour, barely breathing, barely thinking, hooked up to life support with a feeding tube in your gut?

Americans have become highly sensitive to the issue of death. I thought that the whole reason behind this mushy Christianity stuff was to make people comfortable with the idea of dying. “Oh, don’t worry, there’s always the afterlife! Feel free to pass away as you wish.” Nope. Christian evangelicals and conservative Catholics are amongst the most adamant individuals who support your right to clutch on to your existence by any means; even if your body and mind have rotted away to nothing.

Actually, they’re not even supporting your right to life; they’d keep you alive regardless of how you feel.

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddman crochety old for the State to continue financing your life."

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddamn crotchety old for the State to continue financing your life."

What about my right to death? Listen to me: people need to die. People have been dying for millions and millions of years. Its natural. It happens all the time. The problem is that no one has instructed us on how to cope with and move past these tragic events.

Wait. Tragic? It shouldn’t be tragic; it should be joyful. The joyful passing of your loved one. We are so far removed from our natural state of being that we no longer value death… excluding the deaths of our enemies; that has always been joyous.

Lion King

Even Disney supports death panels.

Human bodies were not designed (intelligent or not) to last forever. Our cells stop regenerating as well, our joints become rigid and sore, our systems fail to save over and over again until it gets to a point that your body just dies. All of this extensive healthcare is in denial of the natural ‘Circle of Life‘. Certainly the deaths’ of those who did not live up to the prime peaks of life are tragic; they died too soon. But that only covers people up to about age 40; if you live past that point, I will be joyfully celebrating your passing with explicit glee.

So lighten up. Embrace death (the insurance companies have been running death panels for years now). Maybe even buy a t-shirt. It’ll balance the budget for Christ’s-sakes.

You don’t want to be alive for the zombie apocalypse anyway…

†‡Not that either of these groups really qualify as  being ‘that alive’ in the first place.

jakefunc is a contributing writer and editor of projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Healthcare Reform: The Big Comedown

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; these are the principles on which America was founded. All men (and now women) are entitled to these rights, and it is the duty of the U.S. government to not infringe upon but to maintain our ability to live, live freely and live happily. Otherwise, the government would be worthless, and perhaps it would have been better for us to remain within the British Empire.

Of course, there are limitations to these ‘rights’, but the threshold of limitation is set by us, the common society, and it is our collective say that sets the standard. In recent months (years if you count the campaigns for the presidential nominees) it has become apparent that healthcare is a ‘right’ Americans believe they are entitled to; it is your right to have affordable health insurance coverage, or to at least be able to see a doctor and seek treatment without indebting yourself up to your eyelids.

I know the pains of healthcare personally, even at the ripe young age of 24. I have not been insured for 2 years now and it has made me hesitate to go to dentist. I finally became covered by my employer after working for 6 months, and I promptly scheduled an appointment. The results of my examination were fairly good; only two cavities on my archaic wisdom teeth. The state of my gums, however, had deteriorated into full-blown periodontal disease. If I don’t receive a ‘deep cleaning’ (eek!) I would risk the possibility of slowly but surely losing my teeth as my gums continued to recede (double eek).

How much would the procedure cost? $1077.00. That’s a pretty penny there. Not quite a triple coronary bypass, but I don’t have money for that either. How much would my insurance pay? $588.00. That leaves me paying about $500 in the end, which my broke ass can handle, most likely from some kind of deferred payment plan. For other people, with no insurance and dependents and a number of other financial commitments, paying for this procedure may very well fall to the wayside, letting their health fail as opposed to taking on the cost of treatment.

Preventative healthcare is cheap. What advice would my dentist have given me 2 years ago? The same advice he gave me this year. “You need to floss and use a water pik daily, as well as continue to brush your teeth and use mouthwash.” This might be common sense, but we as human beings need a little prodding here and there, and the dentist or whatever practitioner for whatever ailment just so happens to be the person to whip your lazy conscious into shape. Water pik: $20.00. Stock of floss for 2 years: ~$20.00. Savings incurred from not getting expensive dental procedure: ~$1037.00.

Why don’t people take advantage of preventative healthcare? Because they don’t have the money or they don’t have the know-how. If everyone had health insurance (or if all healthcare was single-payer like the federally mandated Medicare program we’ve had for the past century) they would be able to get problems treated before they get worse and even more expensive. Are you sick? Go see a doctor. Take your medication now instead of saving it for later because you can’t afford to buy more.

The biggest obstacle to everyone having healthcare is: 1. Insurance companies (HMOs), 2. Pharmaceutical companies, and 3. Hospitals and doctors. Everyone of them stands to make much, much less money with mandated healthcare; they’d much rather buy off our politicians than reform the system at hand. With everyone receiving preventative healthcare, you don’t need to go see the doctor as often. You don’t need to have complicated procedures, and all the tests and X-rays and MRIs that go along with it. You don’t need to be overloaded with a drug-cocktail every day.

Right now, Congress is in the process of writing a bill reforming the healthcare systems in America, and they have mistakenly included the nefarious legions of greedy money-grubbers listed above into the equation and excluded the idea of having a ‘public option’ (a government insurance program that would be affordable and available to all). I don’t know what we are supposed to do. Write your congressperson I guess; just be sure to put a $10,000 check made out to his/her re-election campaign account in the envelope too. Needy complaints get lonely without a little cash.

Does it really matter who’s lording over us, a tyrant or an aristocracy, if they could care less about our well being?

jakefunc is a contributing writer and editor of projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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D-Day Anniversary: 6/6/09

Warning! Trouble ahead.

Trouble ahead.

Someone had remarked that it was the ‘D-Day’ anniversary and I responded with my usual, snarky “I really don’t care.”

“You should care. They were fighting Hitler and the Nazis.”

“It’s just a day man.”

“A lot of soldiers died on the beaches of Normandy on this day.”

“Well shouldn’t I care just as much the soldiers who fought in the Civil War, the War of 1812, the Revolutionary War…”

“True. They’re all dead now though; you can still go and talk to veterans from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. They’re normal men… quite a few thrown into the fray by the draft really. They did what needed to be done, even though it meant the cost of their own lives.”

At this point I’m pretty sure I changed the conversation to something that made me feel a little less like a total asshole.

The mark had been made though. I began to feel some sort of guilt for being apathetic about what I regard, in my blunt, frank opinion, as any other day of the week.Is this something that I should try to remember, to reflect upon?

I’ve always had a problem with the armed services, namely the fact that just about every war in history has been stupid, selfish, induced by the greed of both acting parties and has had absolutely no beneficial effect for those who actually fight in the wars, the soldiers, or for the civilian populations that prop up these malevolent governments. We are supposedly all free-thinking beings with awesome will-power; why can the soldier not realize that what he or she is doing is destructive and evil?

It’s the honor. The Flag. The pride of serving your nation, making the greatest sacrifice, having no doubt in your nation’s goal. I guess an army doesn’t work very well with individuals always questioning authority. But still, nonetheless, can you not see the horrendous act you are committing?

As soon as there were no WMDs found in Iraq, not only should Congress have stopped signing bills approving more funds for “Operation Fuel Corrupt Governance,” but the G.I.’s and Marines on the ground should have stopped fighting. Or, at least, for the sake of not having to court marshal their collective asses, their commanders should have told them to stop. Brought them home. Reinstated Saddam.

Each of us is are own personal catalyst for change; whether it be socializing at a party, building a home for a needy family, brushing your teeth, or righting something that you know is wrong. It does take more effort, but you will find the rewards ever more satisfying.

Yes, WWII was necessary, Hitler needed to be stopped (even though I do have my own personal qualms with the U.S., France and Britain refusing to ally with the Soviets earlier in the conflict, as opposed to later at the cost of millions of lives). It was a noble war. The men who died on D-Day died honorable deaths for a worthy cause, and it is unfortunate that I cannot truly appreciate their sacrifice because of my reservations about war.

So… given this realization, how can I be a personal catalyst for change now? Am I going to try to appreciate the soldiers who died for just causes? Those who died for unjust causes that were forced to? Soldiers who died period? Should I remember and reflect on just this day, or should I actually spend more time, once a day, once a week, once a month, contemplating their sacrifices and the depth of their experiences?

jakefunc is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Call it a quarter-life crisis if you must…

This week, I will be posting the following blog about Stoicism on behalf of my friend and guest writer “Aspirana.”

When I look back at the person I had been for the entirety of my ‘early’ twenties, I am alarmed by what I find. Might I offer a metaphor at the expense of my readers?  …I think I shall:  

The director’s cut of the epic saga of ‘me’ should have been left on the cutting room floor.

There, I said it; I am not the epitome of badassness.  I have led an unremarkable life and all of my youthful aspirations have fallen by the wayside.  I am no one’s hero and will not be anytime soon.  (Mmm… humble pie tastes a lot like accountability).  Accepting this truth has forced me to examine my life with more vigor than I was ever moved to do before.  So, I have excavated belief systems of my youth and innocence, restructured my personal ethos with more mature insights, and set forth a plan of action to re-route this train.

Step one: Know Your Enemy.

Why did all that time pass in a sedentary way of life with little focus on nurturing me?

I stumbled upon the answer while kicking around ideas with Soahki.  See, we often find ourselves wondering why life isn’t panning out to be the mega awesome adventure we hoped it would be.  Contemplating this, we examined what I feel is a common enemy to many people… apathy. 

I compulsively wiki’ed apathy and turned up the following standard definition: Apathy (also called impassivity or perfunctoriness) is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and passion. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest or concern to emotional, social, or physical life. They may also exhibit an insensibility or sluggishness.

To some degree, I feel everyone is in the same enduring struggle against apathy; the quicksand in which dreams get lost.  Losing the struggle can lead to a choice to ‘color inside the lines’ (as Po said in Crayons, Existentialism, and our Dystopia) and to a most unremarkable life.  When unwittingly falling victim to apathy, I became a zombified shell of a person that was completely unaware of my affliction.  I had a laundry list of excuses for why it was ok to fall in line with the doldrums of the American mainstream lifestyle.  I side-stepped responsibility and consigned blame for my failures on anyone/anything but myself (which I imagine is a fairly universal and ego-preserving reaction).  I don’t want to beat myself up for it too badly, but I do want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

Step two: Vanquish Foe           

Interestingly, within the same article on apathy, I was surprised to find a quote from Stoic Philosophy that said apathy was “the extinction of the passions by the ascendency of reason.”  Upon delving further, I found that many words in ancient Greece had different meanings than they do today and the quote really says: Peace of mind is achieved when anguish, suffering, and immorality are extinguished through reason. (The original meaning of passions was anguish, suffering, and immorality, and the definition of apathy, as the Greeks originally intended it, was the maintenance of equanimity in the face of life’s highs and lows.) I pondered this very introspectively and decided it was time to find out more about this whole Stoicism thing. 

Even though the word stoic has come to mean unemotional or indifferent to pain, Stoicism’s true aim was freedom from pain through understanding.  They championed common reason, the essential value of all people, understanding the processes of nature, and examining their own judgments and behaviors so that peace of mind could be achieved.  More importantly, they believed that those at peace would be able to see limitations as obstacles to overcome, rather than restraints to bend to. 

Now that I am choosing to be more accountable, I have to accept that my lackluster existence was fostered by my own inclination to be ruled by limitations, as perceived both internally and externally.  Knowing this, I have set out to laugh in the face of danger (i.e. quit being a twat waffle) and figure this whole success thing out. I feel that to overcome apathy as it is defined today, that the Stoics had some very powerful notions.  It influences its followers to take full responsibility for themselves as works in progress and to accept the same to be true of others.  It also encourages each man to be unmoved from their own path by perceptions of the outside world and to remain steadfast in the search for reason.  Stoics felt that being unmovable in this way, while also being careful to value all people, could ensure success and right action in any endeavor.  

I also found their method of practice ideal for my own way of thinking.  For a Stoic, philosophy was not just a set of beliefs or ethical claims, it was a way of life.  It involved constant practice and training. Stoic philosophical and spiritual practices included logic, self-dialogue, contemplation of death, training attention to remain in the present moment, daily reflection on everyday problems and possible solutions, keeping notebooks on important subjects (like an intellectual blog, if you will), and so on. This allows philosophy for a Stoic to become an active process of constant practice and self-reminder.  This was best illustrated to me by the following:

Make for yourself a definition or description of the thing which is presented to you, so as to see distinctly what kind of a thing it is in its substance, in its nudity, in its complete entirety, and tell yourself its proper name, and the names of the things of which it has been compounded, and into which it will be resolved. For nothing is so productive of elevation of mind as to be able to examine methodically and truly every object which is presented to you in life, and always to look at things so as to see at the same time what kind of universe this is, and what kind of use everything performs in it, and what value everything has with reference to the whole.

I am moved by the little knowledge I have of Stoicism and relate most to the notion that if I am unhappy, I must determine where I have diverged from reason and that conquering ignorance enables a person to develop clear judgment, good ethics, and inner calm.  Ultimately, I see it as a significant method for tipping the scales towards success for anyone. 

For those of you reading this who are lucky enough to be philosophy students/aficionados, I would really appreciate your insight and any necessary corrections to the information/interpretations in this blog. I do hope this sparks some interesting discussion, and even though I admit concluding this post with another person’s words is a literal crime, these quotes inspired hours of contemplation for me and I hope they can do the same for someone else.

On the Nature of Man:

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together…( Book II, part 1).

On stick-to-itiveness:

“If you work at that which is before you, following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract you, but keeping your divine part pure, as if you were bound to give it back immediately; if you hold to this, expecting nothing, but satisfied to live now according to nature, speaking heroic truth in every word which you utter, you will live happy. And there is no man able to prevent this.” 

“Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.” 

On accountability:

 “For as the material of the carpenter is wood, and that of statuary bronze, so the subject-matter of the art of living is each person’s own life.” 

“Outward things cannot touch the soul, not in the least degree; nor have they admission to the soul, nor can they turn or move the soul; but the soul turns and moves itself alone.”

“If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone.” 

Aspirana  is a guest writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Nihilism and its Discontents

In light of recent postings, it is becoming abundantly clear that I am not the only disenfranchised intellectual to haunt these forums.  And, in truth, many of us have emphasized the worthiness of such a lifestyle, despite the seemingly perpetual frustration, embitterment, and alienation which accompany it.  The question we face, then, does not seem to be shall we pursue the examined life, but rather how shall we preserve its enjoyment in the wake of philosophic despair and resentment?

This is not an easy question to answer.  For a long while, I personally tried to respond by viewing all views, causes, and life in general as “equally worthless,” keeping a wary eye on my fellow humans and one hand always in my knife-pocket should trouble manifest.  Sparing the details, I will suffice to say that this is a not a psychologically edifying existence, and that in the end, I believe it defeats itself by being as life-negating (more life-negating?) as/than the normative doctrines I set out to forsake or disparage.

The truth is, I like looking my fellow human beings in the eye like…well, fellow human beings.  I may harbor intense and justifiable loathing for their music, customs, or political indiscretion, but since when am I perfect?  This, at least, was the mindset with which I had approached the world of late, attempting to mingle in the more plebeian establishments and even walking the streets of Albuquerque unarmed against my fellow man.  But in the end, I found it was David Rees who said it best:

“If “elitist” just means “not the dumbest motherfucker in the room,” then fine, I’ll be an elitist!”

As for my part, I have tentatively adopted the following maxim: that each day upon rising, I will ask myself what will make me happy for the next twenty-four hours, until I can once more crawl into the slumber of animal phenomenology, that blessed dreamspace wherein the id might  dance uncognizant of any music.  In addition, I am attempting to stay the violent impulse of the nihilist,  without compromising the philosophic integrity that spawned him.   This seems to entail the gentle guidance of the herd, as opposed to simply “bleeding the beast,” as the Mormons say.

This position has its faults.  The masses may indict me on grounds of arrogance, and the Nietzscheans may scorn my perceived weakness.  Nonetheless, I offer this in the way of apologia: that there is too little beauty in this life to waste a precious drop on the thoughts of camels.  Thinking critically, we must realize, puts us ahead of the dominant normative schema by its very nature; does it then make sense to bemoan our distance from the more insipid thoughts of yesteryear?  Zarathustra said that he would come as “a hailstorm to all cornfields” – let us not tremble in the wake of frost, but marvel at the sight of icicles.  For the day will come when our seed, too, will be planted and devoured…

redpillneo is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com.  Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Warning This Post Is Sex-plicit

When most of us think of a “sex offender,” we think of child molesters, serial rapists, and some sketchy guy spiking the drink of a young coed. The title of sex offender more than likely triggers a connection to the darkest corners of our minds. Scrolling through a list of nearby sex offenders sends a chill down the spine as we visualize the dark and sinister “do you want some candy little girl,” nightmare. When I hear the words sex offender I think—traumatic, horrifying, vile, disgusting, violating. The crimes that fall under those words should most certainly be subject to harsh penalties, life sentences, and perhaps even new legislation involving castration.

The trouble with the sentencing of sexual crimes arises when all sex crimes are created equal. Its no secret that there has been a great deal of debate in regards to statutory rape. It is not uncommon to hear about a seventeen and a half year old girl having a twenty year old boyfriend who ended up on the sex offender list because her parent’s and the courts are legally allowed to overlook the fact that both individuals openly admitted to having consensual sex. I have even found myself joking to my brothers about carding girls they date, just to be on the safe side.


While examples such as the one above have sparked debate for quite awhile, a more technological driven offense has taken over center stage when it comes to classifying and prosecuting sexual crimes. The media has been wildly covering the hot topic of “sexting.” Sexting involves sending sexually explicit material via text messages to other mobile phone users. Currently teens across America are finding themselves added to a long list of sex offenders for sexting to other teens photos of themselves.

Now, here is the point where we should all ask ourselves, does a seventeen year old girl or guy deserve to be labeled as a sex offender for sending a nude picture of their ass to another seventeen year old girl or guy? In the age of Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube, many would argue that behavior such as sexting is simply an extension of the culture in the present times. I tend to agree with that theory. Do I advocate an 8 year old sending nude pictures to, well anyone? Absolutely not, but I am definitely not on the bandwagon with kids having cell phones below driving age to begin with.

There tends to be a great deal of “gray area,” when it comes to sexually offensive crimes. So I want to pose a few questions to all of you. To simplify this I would like to post a list:

  • How should our society view teen sexual activity?
  • What sort of changes should be made to our legal system in regards to sexual misconduct?
  • Do you think it appropriate that individuals in similar situations to the sexting scenario above be labeled sex offenders the same as the likes of child rapists and serial rapists?

It should be interesting to get feedback on this subject. I find myself increasingly disturbed by our legal system and the actions of prosecutors dealing with these cases, but because there are moral and ethical concerns raised by each of these issues it is rather difficult to determine the appropriate course of action. I intend to write a follow up post on this subject and specifically abstinence only sex education programs. Stay tuned.

eelliso1 is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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