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June 15, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1994-06-15

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JERRY OOr
POLITICALLY IGNORANT

in ounce of Clinton health

What fresh hell hath wrought President
Clinton? Talk of health-care reform and
universal coverage has spawned a thousand and
one prospective plans whose collective range
could fuel a hypochondriac's fantasies for at
least as many years.
0 Who has time to shift through all the
gobbledygook of the myriad plans out there
anyway? You could say that the committee-
bound caretakers (politicians) of this country are
slowly (or quickly, depending on your attention
span) dulling us with this protracted struggle
over health care; it's local anesthetic gone
national.
I, myself, have had enough of this headache
that won't go away. Why should I worry? I'm
*ng. I don't get sick; and I drive fast enough
so that if I did get in an accident, I would die
immediately. Besides, everyone knows that
Congress is controlled by special-interest
lobbying groups, which leaves little old
individual me with no voice (legislative
larvneitis)

Of course, I can dream. For instance, I've
been kicking around an idea for a health plan that
would feature bare-bones cost containment. I call
it the flesh-eating strep virus plan.
But getting back to special interest, just
where does the medical establishment fit into all
of this? Some of them have taken a decidedly
conservative stance: Government intervention
into health care equals "socialized medicine."
Yep, the benevolent keepers of the public
health don't need anyone to tell them how to
treat a festering wound. After all, they are the
ones who spent their best years slaving through
medical school (government grants and loans
notwithstanding).
They're not about to let those bureaucrats
bleed their hard-earned millions. Just keep the
probing fingers of that meddling country doctor
Clinton out of their cavities, unless, of course,
he's inserting research grants.
Yep, the medical establishment is keeping
right in character with its mistrust of govern-
ment. Its members have never been comfortable

Can peace exist in the Midd
By Sam Goodstein enemies and that she does not want her son
JERUSALEM - "I dream of driving to die fighting these enemies. She knows
my son to Europe," Tala Appel tells me. Ms. that if accord is reached, and if it works, the
Appel knows how Israeli Prime Minister peace, tenuous though it may be, will benefit
Yitzhak Rabin should deal with the Golan the life of every Israeli. She knows that if
Heights: He should return it to Syria, the accord does not work out, there will
9ning diplomatic relations with Israel's eventually be war again. But without the
nighbor to the north. "I do not want my son accord there will eventually be war again. "I
to die in another war. I cannot take another will take the risk of peace," she mulls.
war," she says with a look of gloom in her Ms. Appel sits firmly on one side of
eyes. "We must do whatever is needed to Israel's long political spectrum. Far on the
achieve peace." other side - very far - sits Tzvikah Caspi,
I want to tell her that it is not so simple. a 70-year-old man who fought the British
Why should Israel negotiate with Syrian for Israeli independence in the underground,
President Hafez al-Assad when he will not terrorist Yirgun organization nearly 50 years
even recognize Israel's right to exist? ago. Mr. Caspi also knows what Yitzhak
hermore, there is strong reason to Rabin should do with the Golan Heights: He
believe that the 64-year-old Assad, whose should ensure that Israel never loses control
Alawite minority is only 10 percent of the of it. "If we give up the Golan, and we have
predominantly Sunni Muslim population, already ceded Gaza and the West Bank,
will not be in power much longer. If he can there will surely be another war... today they
survive political opposition, he cannot live take Gaza and Jericho, tomorrow the Golan,
forever. If Israel returns the Golan now, and next week Jaffa and Haifa and next month
Assad is replaced by somebody who refuses Tel Aviv and Jerusalem." Mr. Caspi clearly
to recognize any peace agreement with views Arabs as aggressors and Israelis as
Israel, there is sure to be another conflict. defenders, and while Israel's sketchy
Surely, I want to say, you remember activities during the 1980s clouded that view
when the Syrians shelled Israeli villages for many, his position is understandable.
below the Golan endlessly, before Israel "1948, '56, '67 and '73 (not to mention
annexed the land in 1967. Surely, you know countless terrorist operations) have all
that even if the Golan is returned and proven that we cannot have peace, they will
becomes a demilitarized zone, it could not allow it. If we cannot have peace, why
become re-militarized and the shelling could should we give away our land?"
begin again. Surely, Assad is so bent on Once again, I want to point out a few
getting the Golan back because he so things to my friend, but I cannot. Mr. Caspi
ssionately wants to erase the shame he fully knows that this is a golden opportunity
Is for losing it to his mortal enemies. for Israel to secure peace with its neighbor
Tala Appel knows all of these things. to the north - essentially locking up peace
She knows them far better than I do. She with all neighbors, and ending the security
also knows that accord was reached with threat posed by the nationalist Arab world
Egypt and it can be done again. She knows (with the exception of far-off Iraq and Iran).
that she is tired of being surrounded by He knows that Rabin agreeing to negotiate

careie mall society
W hen I was home over Christmas, my mother decided that
with arbitrary FDA regulations that refuse to she would take a day off work so we could go on a family
legitimize wholistic medicine and that severely outing. Then she announced her plan: We would drive 50 miles
limit nutritional supplements. Of course, these each way to go to an outlet mall in Hillsboro, Texas.
restrictions allow them to continue their health- "It'll be fun," she told me. "It's something to do as a family
care cartel, but that's beside the point. -we can talk on the way and then go to the mall." "No, it won't
The medical establishment, being the civic- be fun," I said. "Dad will turn the football game on the radio.
minded sort, are truly worried that this "social- When we protest, he'll say 'the driver always controls the radio,'
ized medicine" could insidiously lead to further so Dan and Iwill take out our CD players we brought because we
government domination. An ounce of Clinton knew this would happen and will put our headphones on, riding
health-care prevention, in this case, is worth a the rest of the way in silence except when we tell Grandpa to
pound of Big Brother cure. please not spit his chewing tobacco out the window, even though
Let's pretend that this threat really exists, and we don't particularly want to see the styrofoam cup with the
while we're at it, let's pretend that the majority soaked brown napkin that he uses for a spittoon. And why would
of Americans are like me: too ambivalent, too you want to take a day off from work to shop? If we're going to
nearsighted, too self-absorbed (too busy, if drivef50miles, can we at least see something other than the inside
anyone asks) to take politics seriously. of a mall?"
Stretch your imagination a little (or a lot), Well, maybe I didn't say all of that, but I do remember that
and you could say that we are mindless idiots when I started to go on about the American obsession with
that have everything done for us, and who materialism she only looked confused. (She knew I was right
believe everything our government says, about the football game and the tobacco.) My mom's a smart
Yeah, that's it. We're little brother. And if woman, but somehow I just couldn't get across the irony of
Clinton is Big Brother, I think we've just had a taking a day off to go shopping.
singing and acting career thrown into our laps. My parents are not unusual -they're part of the supposedly
silent majority of Americans, the "normal" people who live their
lives like we're all "supposed to", the vast army of workers,
parents and taxpayers who live by "the rules." In aword, the anti-
slackers. These tacit rules of what is normal - the way we are
fe "supposed to" live our lives - surround us like the air we
breathe, emerging only in the plots of TV sitcoms, the heads
shaking when the local kid drops out of college, the concerned
over the Golan puts Israel in the position of tone in our parents' voices when we tell them we want to major
conciliatory neighbor trying to make peace in philosophy instead of business. I'm not sure I've ever really
- a position which improves its world seen them laid out as they should be, like dancing diagrams that
reputation (which the Israelis do care about). show us where to put our feet and how to move through the dance
He knows that peace could end literally of our confusing lives. So here goes.
thousands of years of Jewish-Syrian conflict, U Keep a regular schedule. A 9to05 job is a must; dinner is
at least for the short term. These facts, always at 6just like Archie Bunker wanted it. It is essential to go
however, are all overshadowed by the anger, to bed, as my parents do, immediately after the weather report on
hatred and fear of his long-time enemies. the localnews: 11:20EST. Stayingup any later is dangerous, and
Jews, he explains to me, have always been sleeping in later is a sure sign that you're lazy.
victims. In Israel, however, they are not U You must of course have an office job to go to every day;
victims, they rule themselves. Any threat to this is to ensure that you have enough money to attain the ever-
this autonomy and safety must be sup- growing material standard: a large TV, a VCR, a nice car, your
pressed at any cost, and returning the Golan own apartment or house, designer clothes, dinner out at exclu-
for an ephemeral peace deal is a threat. "We sive restaurants. No one ever tells you that you can live fairly
won it fair and square, and had they won it well on a limited budget, that if you're willing to give up a few
from us, do you think they would ever material goodies you can exist on the edge and free up your time
consider returning it? I think not." to read, write, converse and use the mind you usually won't in an
In between Ms. Appel and Mr. Caspi sits office job. The point of making money is now simply making
Israel's "silent majority." Everyday men and money - it used to be that money freed you to pursue leisure
women who desperately want peace - activities, but shopping has now become one of the most popular
desperately - but are afraid of Arab leisure activities in America.
aggression. Men and women who would Especially if you are male, your world mustbe completely
gladly return the occupied territories and ruled by the outcome of games in the NFL, NBA and MLB. This
even the Golan, if they were sure that a ensures that you and the other men at the office party or the
long-lasting peace could be reached. But family reunion willhave somethinglto talk about (you don't want
they are not sure. Caught between wanting to just stand there and stare at each other, do you?)
to trust Yassir Arafat and Hafez al-Assad Having kids is also essential to being a "normal" Ameri-
and the deeply ingrained, and well-founded, can. Commercials promise that "your family" will love Super
fear and hatred of these men, they sit the Sugar Os or threaten that your kids won't love you unless you
fence, hoping for peace and the security of buy them Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In short, do your
their homeland. "What can I do?" Shaptai duty for God and your country: Produce lots of little consumers.
Peres, a 50-year-old truck driver and veteran Money, marriage and kids also mean that Christmas must
of three wars, asks. "Everyday I fear for the be a big deal. Christmas is the hardest season for the unconven-
life of my son (who is a soldier in the West tional - it seems like one big red and green advertisement for
Bank town of Ramallah). After the peace the life of security, materialism and saccharine sentiment.
with Arafat, it is even more dangerous for Since I'm a grad student and not a true slacker, I'm not
him, because Hamas' bullets hurt more than exactly qualified to criticize the sickening details of the normal
Arafat's stones. I would love peace, but is it American life. But like much of my generation, I view the
really possible?" "normal" life as a hollow shell, not worth the veneration and
Goodstein is an editor on leave and foreign endorsement it has received. And I attribute my excesscynicism
correspondent for the opinion staff to bad '70s television, MTV and the evil influence of Kiss.

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