Sunday, December 6, 2009

In Defense Of Government

With the current health care debate, I'm sure you've regularly heard something like, "If the government can't run the post office, how can it run health care;" or "If the Feds can't run Medicare without a huge deficit, how can they run the rest of our health care system." Now, without debating (as I easily could) the premise that the health care reform package would result in a health care system "run" by the Federal Government, I take issue with the claim that the Federal Government is a poor administrator of the most commonly criticized government programs. The three I hear most often is Amtrak, the Post Office, and Medicare (or all three and more at once).

Let's start with the Post Office. Let's say you want to send your Grandmother a letter in the most rural parts of Tennessee. And let's say she doesn't use e-mail. You write the letter, you spend all of $.44, and in two or three days, she is reading it. Do you use Netflix? U.S. Mail. Does it run a deficit? Sure it does. But if it were not to run a deficit, you'd probably have to pay a hell of a lot more for that letter to Grandma.

Now Amtrak. Let us be clear - Amtrak cannot support itself. But why? Is it because the Government run it poorly? No. It is because there is no demand for rail travel in most of the country. But does the Government run it badly? No way. Taking Amtrak is a blast. Politicians have decided to keep Amtrak alive (which makes me happy), but it is supply/demand problems, not problems inherent in Government that leads to the difficulties.

Lastly, Medicare (and Social Security). The Government runs them amazingly well, and that might very well be the problem. When was the last time you heard a Medicare or Social Security recipient complain that he or she did not receive his or her check? The problem with Social Security and Medicare finances is structural, not administrative. In fact, it is my understanding that Medicare, with no profit motive, runs a much more efficient ship than private insurance.

In closing, I think Government is capable of running all of these programs effectively. But perhaps not economically. But that is because of supply/demand (Amtrak), public demand for unrealistically low price (Post Office) or inherent structural problems (Medicare/Social Security). So yes, I think "government run" health care - which is not at issue in the Congress - could be very effectively run.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Health Care Fill In The Blank

Today, I heard Senator Coburn and his GOP compatriots discussing health care on the Senate floor, when the issue of Medicare came up. First, he argued that we cannot cut Medicare because it is too important to Senior Citizens. Second, he contended that Medicare is a good example of Government run health care driven into a financial ditch, and that we cannot have another expensive Government administered health care program that is as expensive and wasteful as Medicare. Saying we cannot reform Medicare while saying at the same time that Medicare is about to go bankrupt as it is currently configured is an example of _________.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Unmitigated Gall! (And I'm Not Being Sarcastic)

There is nothing more galling than listening to the Right criticise Obama's Afghanistan strategy. Cheney actually said that it projected "weakness." Rove called it "isolationist." Cheney and Rove were key cogs in an administration that had 7 years to win the war in Afghanistan - and failed - leaving the mess for Obama. Now he tries a new strategy different than their demonstrably failed strategy, and they claim it is the wrong strategy to win. One question for them. If they know how to win, why didn't they do it 3 or 5 or 7 years ago? The Right's critique is so clearly political and without soul it is obscene.

What Did You Expect?

That is my question for those on the left and the right when I hear their criticisms of the two most important policies currently being pushed by the Obama administration. The Right likes to act as if major health care reform is wholly unexpected and that the American people did not vote for it. Bullshit! A major issue in the Democratic primary was significant health care reform. Anyone paying attention knew that Obama was going to change health care in the U.S. So the American people DID vote for this kind of change.

But, my fellow travellers on the Left, you are not let off the hook. So many of you seem shocked, SHOCKED, that Obama is sending more troops to Afghanistan. But were you not listening to him during the campaign. He ran against the Iraq war, but said that Afghanistan is the war we had to win. If you were paying attention, you knew this was possible, if not likely.

These are not broken promises by President Obama, these are kept promises.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Theological, Moral and Political Question about Chimeras

I was listening to one of my favorite radio shows, Radio Lab on WNYC, on my IPod shuffle and heard a story about Chimeras. Chimeras are humans (or other animals) with two separate and distinct DNA strands. Apparently, very early in a pregnancy with fraternal twins, the two embryos can meld into a single entity. That entity has two DNA codes which each take over different parts of the person (e.g. blood, kidney, liver, etc.). This has led to a question in my mind? If life begins at conception, then prior to the melding, there are two humans at the very early moments of pregnancy. But then, very soon thereafter, there is only one individual person who is carried to term and grows up. My question is this - what happened to the other person? Or are there, theologically, two "persons?" If human life begins sometime after the melding, there is no such issue. I don't mean this as a criticism of the "life begins at conception" idea. This is a question about which I am really curious.

Monday, September 21, 2009

GOP Soft on Crime

First, I have a question for those who would have Eric Holder stop his investigation into whether any CIA interrogators violated the law. Tell me, is there anything a CIA interrogator could do to a prisoner that would justify prosecuting that interrogator? And if so, how would you find out if it was done?

Now to the rest of my point. The GOP has become ridiculously soft on crime. I have three examples (and there are more). First, the example mentioned above. Second, Scooter Libby. A man indicted by a Republican appointed US Attorney is convicted by a jury, but the GOP demands at least a commutation of his sentence, if not a full pardon. And finally, the amazing case of Ramos and Compean, two Border Patrol agents who shot a fleeing man in the back, and tried to cover it up. They then claimed that they thought he was a drug runner (which he actually was - but there was no evidence they knew it when they shot him). Again, the GOP demanded a commutation, or even a pardon. There are more examples in the recent and almost recent past, where the GOP wanted to ignore the rule of law (see, e.g., Elian Gonzalez and Terri Schiavo). So when did the GOP decide to ignore the rule of law?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Question of Entitlements

The other day, Andrew Sullivan wrote, "one party is committed to never raising taxes and the other to never slashing entitlements. "

In response I sent him this e-mail:


In an earlier post you said "one party is committed to never raising taxes and the other to never slashing entitlements." I think you misspoke. You must have meant to say "one party is committed to never raising taxes and both parties to never slashing entitlements." What evidence do you have that the GOP is at all willing to "slash entitlements." It might be willing to avoid granting new entitlements (although the GOP's willingness to increase Medicare entitlements during Bush's presidency calls that into doubt) but I don't hear any leading Republicans actually calling for the cutting, let alone "slashing," of entitlements. When pressed, Republicans love to point out their undying devotion to Medicare; even criticising President Obama for what they think is an inevitable cutting of benefits to pay for new entitlements. Furthermore, the GOP speaks of tax cuts as if they were entitlements. For example, the Bush tax cuts the GOP wants to make permanent. What is more of an entitlement than a tax cut that can never be rescinded regardless of the economic situation. And I think eliminating the estate tax would amount to an entitlement to people such as Paris Hilton who never had to do anything to earn their parents' fortunes.

In short, even taking the GOP at its word, the only person that might have to cut Medicare benefits is a Democrat. What entitlements are the GOP willing to "slash?"

R. Peter Nessen

P.S. - I am posting this on my own, rarely read, blog:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Religious Question

There is a verse in a Godspell song that goes: "God endowed us with sense and intellect. God endowed us with reason we neglect. But despite the abolition by the current inquisition of any intuition that they don't choose, when it comes to God I find I can't believe that he'd design a human being with a mind he's not supposed to use." I find this a very meaningful problem with a doctrine of redemption earned only through faith. I have a mind made by God. It is, on the whole, a logical, searching mind. It requires proof before reaching unquestioned conclusions. And yet, the same God who made this mind requires that I set it aside and believe simply on the say so of a book and its interpreters. That seems to be a paradox of redemption through faith.

There is another scene in Godspell (I should probably say it is from the Bible, but I know it from Godspell) which raises a similar issue. In it, a rich man is cast down to hell when Lazarus is in Paradise. The rich man asks that if he cannot be saved that at least God personally tell his family what they need to do for salvation. Jesus says something to the effect of "God sent Moses and the prophets who tell you what you need to do. If your family won't believe them, why would they believe me?" That always seemed to me to be quite a cop out by Jesus. If some guy tells me he knows God's will, I think of Oral Roberts and Pat Robertson. But if GOD was to personally tell me his will, that would be much more convincing. Heck, God didn't send some schmo to tell him what God wanted, he showed up himself as a burning bush.

So my question is: Where am I wrong theologically?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Danger of a Legal Challenge to Health Reform

A current argument made by the Right Wing against health care reform, is that the Democratic plan is unconstitutional. They rely on the oldie but goodie that the Constitution does not say anything about the regulation of health care, so the founders must not have intended to allow the Federal Government to have much of a role, if any. Since the New Deal, The courts have held many times now that the Federal Government has a great deal of power via the Commerce Clause. The current Right Wing argument is, in essence, that those cases were wrongly decided. While the claim is interesting, it is ridiculously outdated. To return to such an interpretation would lead to the economic collapse of this nation.

The debate over the constitutional federal power to regulate has been going on since 1789. One of the most significant early arguments was the debate over "internal improvements." The Federalists believed the federal government could build roads and canals to aid the new nation. The Democratic-Republicans, led by Jefferson, disagreed. Early on they believed the federal government had no such power. A good history of this debate can be found here. If we were to go back that far in our Commerce Clause interpretation, we would not have the Interstate Highway System. Those trucks you see late at night bringing your food and clothes to your local stores, would not be there. You couldn't take that drive to Grandma's house. Luckily, the Jeffersonians reached a somewhat tense compromise with themselves and agreed to a limited approval of internal improvements. I can only assume that the Right Wing would not wish to turn back the clock to pre-Eisenhower and let the interstate highways go to pot.

But I do believe the Right Wing sees a future that pre-dates the New Deal on non-transportation federal powers. I think they hope to see a court disapproval of national health care as the stepping stone to the eventual destruction of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the EPA, and probably even the SEC. Read this, and note that it applies to many things other than health care. They long for the days when there were no labor unions and the owners of a factory could do whatever the hell they please. For some reason, when they think of the good-ole-days, they forget the basis for the lyric "I sold my soul to the company store," and the hellish conditions depicted in "The Jungle."

In short, while there might be policy reasons for killing national health insurance reform, a legal victory based on the Commerce Clause would be extremely dangerous to the economic fabric of the country.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rant Cont.

Another group pissing me off are the "elderly" upset that someone other than themselves might get Government provided health insurance. How selfish is it to say you deserve something. but refuse to let anyone else have it? God forbid some part-tiome WalMart worker with two kids should have the same health care opportunities as Sam Walton had. He might have been a billionaire, but he was old. So the Government should give him opportunities that the guy cleaining the floors in one of Sam's stores does not have.

And do you notice that the same people rejecting counseling on end-of-life care were the folks passing legislation in an attempt to make such a decision for Terri Schiavo? Maybe if Terri had had some counseling before her illness, she would have written her desires down and we could have avoided the circus her death became. Why are we so scared to talk of the fact that some people might not want to live hooked up to a machine, and that it would be nice to have some facts provided to them? Just today David Freddoso, a hard core social conservative expressed horror at this pamphlet. OMG!!! Someone might actually learn what various diseases can do to you and plan ahead for various contigincies.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A True Rant (Probably with typos)

This health care debate is pissing me off in so many ways. Let's try a few.

1. I am pissed off at the GOP telling everyone they should not trust the Democratic Health Care plan, and then use polls that show a large distrust of the Democratic plan as reason the plan should not pass.

2. I am pissed off at claims from the GOP that it is trying to keep health care safe from some third-party interefering in the decisions that should be made by a patient and his doctor. Have any of them had to ask for permission from an insurance company before getting some kind of care? It happens all the damn time.

3. I am pissed off at liberals who say that they will oppose any health care reform plan that does not iniclude the public option. Why? Because a small improvement in the current system is a worse thing than the status quo? What a load of hooie! If the legislation that is up for a vote makes even the smallest improvement - we should support it.

4. I am pissed off that the GOP continues to spew out the idea that Obama cannot guarantee that a person will be able to keep the insurance they currently have (one of the few true claims the GOP has been making) but that the status quo will allow it. Maybe it will in the shortest term. As health care prices skyrocket, employers will very possibly stop providing insurance, or, at least, stop providing the insurance plan an individual has had in the past and, instead, provide a cheaper, less popular plan.

More ranting later.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Should All Listen To Me

I said it seven months ago. Brett Favre is a narcissist who I wish would just go away. But here he comes again; just when the spotlight was about to shine elsewhere. There should never be another Brett Favre retrospective. ESPN should promise never again to air a story about whether Favre will or won't do anything.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Care Town Hall

As I posted a couple weeks ago, I had a short conversation with my Congressman, Mark Kirk, now a GOP Senate candidate, at a train station in Chicago. I asked him a quick question or two about health care. He gave not so helpful answers. Thinking I might take a page from the GOP playbook I e-mailed his office asking if he was going to have a town hall to discuss health care, so I could go and ask pointed questions. I sent it via his Congressional website a few days ago. I have yet to hear a response. I'll keep you updated regarding Mr. Kirk's apparent desire not to face his constituents head on.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Glenn Beck . . .

is a bad man. He isn't claiming eugenics will come because of Obama's health care plan; he's just saying we should start talking about Obama's helath care with a discussion of eugenics.

Similarly, I'm not saying Glenn Beck is a jackass. But before we discuss Glenn Beck's personality and intelligence, let's talk about jackasses.

Stop Telling Me What The American People Want

I think I have said this before, but can we please stop having politicians and pundits telling us what the "American people" want? This is a large country with opinions as varied as the people in it. The current example used most often is the conservative statement that the "American people" don't want the Democratic health plan. Well, I'm part of the "American people" and I want the plan. So from now on, I demand that anyone claiming the knowledge that the "American people" don't want the Democratic health care plan say instead that they only have knowledge of what the "American people except for Peter Nessen" want.

New Mission Statement

For the life of this blog, I have thought I should be trying to teach people something about what they might find interesting. And then I would be disappointed when no one seemed to be reading. My wife recently said she was reading, and was interested in what I had to say in my blog. Tha is when it occurred to me. A blog is a basically narcissitic exercise. I will now write about anythign I damn well please. Will I link to other web sites? When I feel like it. Will I blog about ridiculous crap? Why the hell not? In other words, I am taking control of my blog as a reflection of my mind, which I think is pretty damn interesting. Ego? You bet your ass!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

GOP "Moderate" on Health Care

I was going to contact my Congressman, Mark Kirk, via phone to let him know I supported universal health coverage. But before I made the call, I saw him at the train station in Chicago, trying to elicit support for his Senate bid. Kirk is considered a moderate Republican by many. That is what made my encounter with him so surprising. I have already posted regarding my disgust with the GOP's claim that there is no Health Care problem in this country. But in my short conversation with Mr. Kirk I discovered a new tack - admit the problem but maintain there is no solution that is affordable. The conversation went something like this (I apologize to Mr. Kirk if I have not remembered everything word for word, but this is definitely the gist of the conversation:

Me: I know you won't like this but I encourage you to support Universal Health Care.

Kirk: I am on the other side of that issue.

Me: Why?

Kirk: I am against spending a trillion dollars on it.

Me: Well, what do you suggest we do about the problem?

Kirk: We can't afford it.

Me: Maybe we should give care to the working poor and take some of the cost by means-testing Medicare.

Kirk: I support Medicare.

Me: What about means-testing?

Kirk: I support Medicare.

Me: What about means-testing?

Kirk: I support Medicare [Ed. - He did say it three times].

Me: What about the kids who need health care?

Kirk: I voted for S-Chip.

Me: Good, I appreciate that.

What does this say about the GOP position on health care? One of the "moderates" in the party is now claiming that there is nothing we can do to solve the problem. I guess we should just let it go as it is. That is the modern GOP? Nothing good.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Am Officially Disgusted

Ok, I was watching Hannity on Fox News (So you don't have to). And I am disgusted by the new GOP strategy to defeat health care reform. Now they are claiming there is not problem. The new claim is that only 7,000,000 people are uninnsured and that the US has the best health care in the world. If that is true, then why are we 50th in life expectancy (just ahead of Albania), and why do we pay so much per capita? But I digress. There are many things to say about the current health care system in the U.S., and you can disagree about the cause of or the solution for the problems with our system, but to deny that there is a problem is either due to delusion or dishonest.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quick Health Care Query

If the government is so bad a running things, then why are consrvatives so concerned that so many Americans will run to the government run Public Option that the private insurance companies won't be able to compete?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

$787 Billion Spending Package?

It has become a popular myth (lie?) among conservative pundits that the stimulus package passed earlier this year is a $787 Billion spending package. But let's get in our way back machine and look at reality. Obama originally wanted to spend somewhere around $700 Billion, or more. But GOP and congressional pressure forced him to agree to a $787 Billion stimulus with $288 Billion in TAX CUTS - which many feel is a much worse stimulus than spending. So, in the end, Obama got only about 50% of the spending he wanted and was forced to include relatively non-stimulative tax cuts. Thank you GOP!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Huh? Fairness Doctrine vs. ABC "Infomercial"

Compare this and this. Which is it?

Does Iran = USSR?

Recently, a number of GOP leaders, most significantly Senator John McCain, have argued that Obama has been too quiet in his support of the Iranian protesters. A common meme is that Obama should speak out against the Iranian regime and for the protesters in the way that Ronald Reagan spoke out against the Soviets and for revolutionaries in Poland. [Note - McCain also credited Reagan with speaking out against the USSR and for the revolutionaries in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring in 1968. Of course, Reagan was still early in his first term as California governor in 1968. Clearly the solution to the Iranian crisis is for Arnold Schwarzenegger to say something]. Do these people not understand the difference between foreign occupation and internal revolution? Oh wait. Well, anyway, in case it needs to be spelled for them: The Soviet Union dominated Eastern Europe from without (regardless of what Gerald Ford said). The Iranians were originally not fighting for the ouster of a regime. They were originally fighting for a "fair" vote (to the extent a vote can be fair when hundreds of potential candidates cannot run because of an oligarchical decision). They only started yelling "Down with Khameni" after it became clear the regime was engaging in a coup. Obama then came out for the safety of the people, and a fair resolution, and against the regime's actions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pessimism on Iran

Well, I have no idea what's going on in Iran. But I don't think we should be optimistic, even if Mousavi eventually becomes President. Two reasons spring to mind. First, a recent poll put support for Iran's nuclear program at about 84% among Iranians. Second, while Mousavi might be (and who really knows) more of a "reformer" than Ahmadinjead, he was still allowed by the Mullahs to run for President - one of four. The Mullahs vetoed the right of many others to run. So, while I hope the Iranians get honest results from their limited republic, I don't expect too much of a quick change even if they do.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I have thought for years that a significant problem in the abortion debate is that the two sides are arguing two very different issues. The Pro-Choice side argues that a woman has the right to do with her body as she sees fit. That is a "bodily integrity," "free will" debate. The Anti-Abortion side argues that you can't kill an innocent life. To them, it is a debate about murder. Each side makes assumptions the other would never agree with.

A good example of this can be found at Bench Memos, a blog at National Review, where Matthew J. Franck responds to a young Medical student who explains her journey from anti-abortion to pro-choice. He wonders:

whether this future obstetrician has learned from her embryology textbooks that every fetus, every embryo, is a unique, distinct, self-directing, living member of the human species. Any rights that our young med student has by virtue purely of her humanity today, she had from the moment of her conception.
Franck assumes that it is self-evident that life begins at conception, and that an embryology textbook should obviously make that point. But not everyone agrees, and unless Franck sees that, and realizes the reasonableness of the disagreement, there will never be a solution. Similarly, if Pro-Choice advocates (which I am) don't understand that Franck's position regarding when life begins is also reasonable, we will never get anywhere. My suggestion? No clue at the moment. Just a thought.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hello Again!

After a rousing response at Facebook, I have returned. Not quite as triumphant as MacArthur, but a blog ain't exactly the Phillipines. Any way, here goes:

Over at the Corner, their recent economic "expert," Veronique de Rugy posted on the plight of the Boston Globe. First she noted that the members of the Boston Newspaper Guild, the paper's union, had rejected the most recent contract 277-265, which puts the paper at risk. She then said:

What are these guys thinking? To me, this just goes to show the incredible stupidity of organized labor.

I'm at a loss how a Union voting against a contract shows anything about organized labor in general. Should the Guild members have voted to accept the contract? Perhaps. But a Union chose, in a democratic way, to reject a deal. Would de Rugy prefer that the Union leadership simply agree to the deal without input from the members - a power grab of the sort the conservatives like to accuse them of anyway? How elitist! But I guess that's what I should expect from a woman named Veronique de Rugy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More GOP Contradiction

Dick Cheney has been running around saying that Obama's reversal of some Bush/Cheney anti-terrorism policies will lead to terrorist attacks. But at National Review, the party line is that Obama is trying to change the terminology of the "War on Terror" but keeping intact Bush/Cheney policies. So which is it? Is Obama keeping campaign promises that will cause us to die, or is Obama a liar who is going to keep us safe?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Uber-Competence In the Hudson

Thanks parlty to NY Governor David Paterson, people have started calling the landing and rescue of the US Airways jet yesterday a "miracle." This bugs me. The pilot and flight crew took heroic action to save the lives of the passengers. They deserve all the credit they are receiving. In fact, they deserve more. What I mean is that when we call their bravery and extreme ability a "miracle" we are taking some credit from them and giving it to God (or Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster). We do this a lot in this country. When a doctor takes heroic action to cure a cancer patient, some will call it a miracle. When a volunteer firefighter saves lives, some will call it a miracle. Not only does this take away from the accomplishments of the very human people who save lives, it also denigrates miracles. Parting the Red Sea is a miracle. If you choose a different religious tradition, bringing Lazarus back from the dead is a miracle. If God wanted a miraculous ending to the US Airways crisis yesterday, the plane would have floated down like a feather with no explanation. That would be a miracle. What we saw was not a miracle, but a spectacular act of expertise and steel nerves. Why isn't the amazing accomplisments of mere mortals enough for us.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

No One Ever Said They Were Smart

Apparently, the leader of Hamas has said that any settlement with Israel is now impossible. I can not imagine a more idiotic thing to say at this point in time. Think about the current situation for Hamas. A much stronger force is decimating Hamas' infrastructure, and killing many of its fighters. Hamas, as is usual in its fights against Israel, is winning the PR battle. So what is the best result for Hamas? A settlement that is at least as good as the situation ex ante, with strong support from the international community. But now, if Hamas will not settle what is Israel to do? All it can do is to fight until Hamas is mortally wounded. And what of those Americans, like me, who is a supporter of Israel's existence, believes there is no moral equivalence between the ends sought by Israel and Hamas, but who supports some sort of negotiation because he is uncomfortable with Israeli tactics, to do? If both Hamas and Israel are saying ther will be no negotiation or settlement, it seems to me I am left rooting for Israel to fulfill its goal of using force to finish off Hamas. If you have to pick a side in a fight that both sides are determined will be a fight to be the death, you pick the one with the better moral position. Here, that is Israel.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sports Break

So, Brett Favre is "leaning toward retirement." Remember last winter when Favre cried while announcing his retirement? And then he screwed with the Packers until finally deciding to return and expecting to be welcomed back with no repercussions. And then he demanded a trade to teams that played the Packers twice a year. And finally was traded to the Jets. Only to play poorly when it mattered most. I vote for the media entirely ignoring Favre's retirement "to be or not to be" schtick until a season goes by without him playing. Then someone can give him a car and a rocking chair at a half-time ceremony. Then he can go away again. For good. Please.

Explanation Please

Can someone, anyone, please tell me what the Hell is going on in Israel and Gaza? And why I should support or not support the Israeli invasion (incursion) into Gaza? And please, no "we haev to support Israel because of the special relationship between the US and Israel." And also, no "Israel is an aparthaid state." Look, Hamas was sending rockets into Israel, and you can be damn sure that any other country would go haywire if a neighboring country lobbed rockets onto its citizens indicriminately. But Israel seems to have an insatiable appetite for West Bank settlements. And why isn't Israel biting off its nose to spite its face by going into Gaza? I guarantee you that the world reaction will be overwhelmingly anti-Israel. More money will be funelled to Hamas, and any anti-Hamas sentiment in Gaza is officialy dead. Dammit, what is goign on? And what should a rational person do?