Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “the Beatles”

Universal Healthcare – It Baffles Me

This is the third post in a series of fundamental changes we can and should make to have a lasting effect on our society. Last week I covered gun control and made many friends in the past week from the NRA. Now I want to turn my attention to healthcare.

I was born and bred in England, so please excuse me. You enjoy Downton Abbey, The Beatles, and got excited over young Prince George of Cambridge, so don’t pretend we don’t know what we’re doing.

images-3There seems to me that there are certain entitlements if you play the game. By playing the game, I mean work, pay your taxes, and don’t break the laws. In return, your country protects you from foreign invaders who want the rights to Downton Abbey and free season tickets to Manchester United games, give you a sound education so that you can step up in life, and take care of you when you are sick.

The protection and health care are part of what you invest in a social infrastructure as part of paying your taxes. Your soccer tickets are your own problem, but life isn’t perfect. As much as we complain about the National Health System (NHS), and it is far from perfect, there is no such thing as a person going without medical treatment, or losing all their savings to help a family member receive the treatment they need to stay alive.

How is this possible if Brits don’t pay more taxes than Americans? The answer is that the pharmaceutical companies and the medical supplies companies don’t make the astounding profits that are made in this country.

images-4It is greed that is preventing good-standing Americans from receiving what is theirs. Every American is entitled to access to healthcare. It baffles me how this is not accepted. There is no family in America (correct me if I’m wrong) wherein every family member is perfectly healthy and has no need of medical help.

It is a universal need and should therefore be universally accessible.

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Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for YA – At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.  For more about the author, check out his website.

Mommy, Can I Grow Up To Be a Sellout? Pleeeeease? – Tom Rossi

Because I’ve been alive during this particular period in music history, I’ve witnessed a transformation – one that tells us a lot about the direction our society, as a whole, has gone in the last couple of decades.

It used to be that a musician, being “sponsored” by some name brand, or letting a song appear in an advertisement, was completely taboo. Not too long ago (maybe 30 years or so?), your peers (other musicians) would have looked down on you with disgust if your song appeared in a commercial for Nike or Coca Cola.

sellout

But gradually, that’s exactly what became “normal”. We now are bombarded with fake art – music that was created to make money, and so “selling out” no longer has any meaning. I’m sure that some of this music was created with selling out as its true purpose.

There is very little “art for art’s sake.” Yes, succesful musicians have always made money – sort of. But nothing like today, which leads me to believe that most future musicians didn’t start taking lessons, in the good old days, with the goal of millions of dollars in mind. Now it really seems that it’s mostly about money.

sellout

And… these days it’s about MORE money. We now see musicians’ and other “artists'” work appearing in commercials even though these “artists” are already millionaires. I keep wondering, how much does a company has to pay a big star like __________* to have his song in their commercial? Or to have him appear on a commercial personally? I sure hope it’s a lot. I’d hate to think we’ve “progressed” to the point where a millionaire will commercialize his or her work for practically nothing.

(*note: I’ve decided not to give any sellouts any extra advertising space here. If anybody wants it, they can pay me. Wait… no, they can’t. They can go to hell.)

But maybe it doesn’t bother me so much that some people choose to commercialize their own creations. What really bothers me is when a musician has passed away, or just doesn’t own the rights to his or her own creation, thanks to a crappy deal with some giant, ever-greedy record company, and that creation is turned into an advertizing campaign.

I’ve heard songs by The Beatles, The Doors, and all sorts of other bands and solo artists used in commercials in the last few years. This makes me sick. No matter what you say to me, no matter what arguments you make, I will NEVER, NEVER, EVER believe that John Lennon would be OK with the use of any of his songs to sell something – and certainly not shoes.

Neil Young feels the same way I do. Here’s his great video for his song “This Note’s for You,” that was, for a while, banned from MTV:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJiUEr4045o

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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