Friday, October 22, 2010

The Ostrich: Willfully Uninforming Again….

It’s Friday night, more or less wind down time at Side editorial offices, but before we shut down, we’re going to indulge our penchant for pettiness for a moment or two.  Be petty with us, if you have the time.

Readers who have been with us from our inception know that The Ostrich, or as we sometimes call it, the Newspaper of the Willfully Uninformed (NOTWIUN), bears most of the responsibility for the birth of this “blog.”  Blessing or curse, take your pick.  It doesn’t change the circumstances that drove us to the extreme act of establishing our own “voice.”

Specifically, about 18 months ago, Ostrich editors challenged the validity of the information we presented on the Oxford Aviation proposal for BNAS occupancy.  We responded with copious documentation and references for our assertions, and the editors relented and published our submissions.

But the damage had been done, and whatever trust existed was gone.  We had spent years reading clearly erroneous and deceptive items on Ostrich op-ed pages, yet the powers to be decided that our submissions needed to be held to a higher standard.  We tired of the duplicitous editorial policy, and established this nationally recognized outlet in response.

Last night’s edition of The Ostrich provided two perfect examples of the double standard they apply to editorial submissions.  If your views comply with the inclinations of the editors, no problem.  If not, why should they give you public airing?

Example first: a reader letter asserting that welfare spending in Maine “amounts to approximately 1 percent of the general fund budget.”  In the current budget year, that latter figure is about $2.9 billion, so she wants us to believe that welfare spending in Maine is less than $30 million per year.  That’s right, less than THIRTY million per year.

And yet no one on The Ostrich staff thought this clearly bizarre claim worthy of challenge?  Are they serious?  How many times have we heard Stan Gerzofsky and the other boosters of the status quo nanny state claim that 85% of the general fund budget goes to education and human services?

Allowing this patently false discourse to run on their pages suggests either that the Editors will print anything, no matter how totally wrong it may be, or that they will print anything that comports with their ideology.

Moving along, let’s look at the latest silliness from Doug Rooks (rhymes with kooks), a “featured columnist” of The Ostrich.

Dougy argues that welfare isn’t welfare.  And as evidence, he cites the following:

MaineCare pays doctors and hospitals. No one receives cash, and it doesn’t even supplement personal buying power, as food stamps do. It makes as much sense to call Medicaid “public assistance” — with the implication of handouts — as for Medicare, which covers nearly as many people. Is it “public assistance” if you’re poor, but not if you’re old?

This position is so misinformed and so idiotic on so many levels that we don’t know where to begin, except to say that the zealots of the welfare state want us to believe that the tooth fairy is real and that money grows on trees.

The most egregious transgression here is to equate Medicaid with Medicare.

Medicaid, in case you didn’t know, is state provided health care, with the assistance of federal funds, and it doesn’t require that you contribute ahead of time or buy a product.  It is specifically designed for those whose incomes fall below certain qualifying levels.  You are a family of so many, with income below a set figure, and you get free health care.

Medicare, created in the 1960’s, is a contributory program very similar to Social Security.  You are legally compelled to contribute to the program as a tax on your earnings. 

You and your employer, at the point of a gun, must submit a mandated amount of your earnings to the Government to fund the program.  This is not a means based entitlement program.  It is a mandatory participation program.

The effect of its enactment in our world was for our employer, who previously provided health care coverage to retirees for life, to end that coverage at age 65, because you became eligible for government provided Medicare at that age.

In other words, you have no choice but to participate in the program (unless you were a government employee, exempted from the program), and the privately provided coverage programs immediately changed their structure because of the federal program.

Medicare’s structural definition couldn’t be more different that that of Medicaid.  Those who believe that because both start with the letter M and are government programs, they are equivalent, as Rooks argues, make it clear that we are about to go bankrupt as a society and a nation because the concept of critical thinking has gone extinct. 

Especially on the opinion pages of the so-called government watchdog media outlets.  Let us be blunt: Rooks is an idiot.

Sad to say, as we see it here in the offices, we’d be better off without ‘watchdogs’ like The Ostrich.  We need information, not mis-information.

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