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 “Tom Rossi”

Reaching A Proud Landmark

Today, Left Coast Voices broke into the top 500,000 blogs according to the Alexia rankings. That puts us in the top 0.123% of blogs in the world (yeah, I did the math). With a great team of Tom Rossi and Roger Ingalls, more people are reading the blog every day and our future looks bright.

As you might have noticed, the blog is a mix of political commentary, recognition of grassroots activism, and experiences and developments in the writing world. The latter will now be restricted to weekend posts for the near future.

If you have a moment, please share in the comments some feedback regarding the following questions:

1. What do you enjoy about the blog and what is missing?

2. Are you more interested in political commentary/grassroots activism/insights into the writing world?

3. Is there a particular issue/organization/topic that you would like one of us to cover?

One aspect that we feel we are lacking is a woman on the team. Do you know a woman who might be interested in blogging once a week, perhaps focusing on women’s issues, or just highlighting a woman’s perspective? 

So a big Thank You to my publisher, Lloyd Lofthouse, at Three Clover Press, who has been a great source of knowledge and support in every aspect of blogging. A really big THANK YOU to Roger and Tom for their weekly posts, their dedication and enthusiasm. But most of all, the biggest THANK YOU goes to you, our readership, who make our day by reading the post, adding to the comments and proving that honest debate and social activism is the most important component of a thriving democracy.

In a world where so many are fighting at this moment for the right to open debate and democracy, our freedom is something we should all be proud of. This spring, blogging has shown itself to be a powerful tool for freedom. Blogging knows no borders. Hopefully freedom of expression and debate will soon truly be a global value in a brave new world. 

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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Hospitals continued (was Lawsuits…)

My last post here painted a pretty rosy picture of hospital care, at least at some hospitals. And it’s true that there have been very significant improvements in many areas. But while I was there as a visitor (for many hours over several days) I also saw that the human factor is still a crapshoot.

Many of the nurses that we dealt with were excellent. In fact, I’d even say that most of them were very good at a minimum, but it seems that there are still a few in this profession that have a bad attitude toward his or her work and/or patients.

Of course, some nurses seem weighed down with paperwork (or computer work) and this is a matter of balance between patient care and possibly the kind of verification I wrote about last time. This might not be the fault of the nurse, but an unrealistic policy set by administrators. The result, however, is patient neglect. The obvious danger in this is that something serious could be happening and fail to get attention when needed. But patients don’t always know when something is serious so even when an issue is trivial they can experience severe anxiety when the nurse just won’t come.

But the worst thing I observed on this visit (and many other times) is the “Nurse Ratched” archetype.

Nurse Ratched knows what’s required and you don’t need to know – whether you’re a patient or a family member. She (sometimes he) speaks to her patients in an inappropriately loud voice and somewhat in the manner of a drill sargeant. She doesn’t ask, she tells. She manhandles her patients in order to accomplish her tasks efficiently, doing things like rolling her patients roughly from side to side of the bed like big sacks of potatoes so that she can change the sheets.

Nurse Ratched, however, is very experienced and doesn’t make big mistakes. She knows her job well. But she might up her patients’ dose of morphine just to make them go to sleep and stop complaining. Nurse Ratched is not easy to get rid of, especially in today’s situation where nurses are in somewhat short supply.

Because nurses are in demand, the employment situation for them is the opposite of that for almost everybody else. To generalize a little bit, I’ve noticed that when U.S. unemployment has been low, it seemed I was surrounded by incompetence – people not knowing how to do their jobs or just not caring. On the other hand, when unemployment is high, lots of good, able people are either without jobs or there are architects bagging groceries or something.


If given the choice, I would choose the former rather than the latter situation. I would put up with incompetence rather than high unemployment, which can be a self-reinforcing phenomenon as businesses fail that once supplied goods and services to employed people. I sure wish we could deal with both problems.

How about this? We pay people a decent wage that actually allows them to relax a little and not feel constantly under pressure. Then, we give people mandatory vacation time. With decent pay, he or she could plan for their time off and not go broke. When the employee is on the job, he or she might not resent the situation so much and just might take the job more seriously.

My bet is that each worker’s productivity would go up dramatically, as would job satisfaction. With their time off, workers would spend their money, and spread around the prosperity. Are government policies solely responsible for societal outcomes? Of course not. But policies can help to guide these situations in the right direction. That’s part of what governments are for.

Well, this is a decent idea for many kinds of jobs, but nurses are already paid pretty well. The fact is that nurse Ratched will probably never really go away no matter what we do.

-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.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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Does George Will have Glen Beck Envy?

George Will must think he’s losing readership share to Glen Beck. He has evidently decided that he needs to go deeper into conspiracy-theory-land to try to win his readers back. In his column in the March 7, 2011 issue of Newsweek titled, “High Speed to Insolvency: Why Liberals Love Trains”, George says, “…progressivism’s aim is the modification of other people’s behavior.” and “the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.” Wow.

Part of me wants to say, “Oh my gosh! George Will has found us out! We progressives will have to look up from our evil plans and think of a way to go deeper undercover while pretending to care about the future of the human race as a cover up!” But of course, sarcasm lands like a belly flop on the ears of a man who uses “word-of-the-day” toilet paper.

So, George (aka Pokey), let me see if I can help you out with a couple of things while keeping this on a level that you and your pal Gumby can understand. There are two types of individualism in America – real and fake. Progressives want real freedom and real individualism, while laissez-faire capitalists want fake. Real individualism is in thought, expression, love, and other highfalutin’ concepts like these. Fake individualism is whether you drive a Chevy or a Volkswagen, whether you like the Steelers or the Packers, or whether you watch Friends or Desperate Housewives on T.V. These are individual choices, it’s true, but they represent individuality only at the most superficial level.

The freedom your kind wants is the freedom to dominate: the freedom to take full advantage of the fact that your great-grandfather bought stock in Standard Oil way back when or maybe the Union Pacific Railroad, whereas my grandfather came over from Italy, just before World War I, without a dollar in his pocket.

Progressives want the next generation and those that follow to have the luxury of individualism as well – not to be chained to a desk for sixty hours a week nor to be afraid to go outside because the air could kill a person. You see, George, individualism is closely related to freedom, and real freedom can be curtailed by fake freedom. Your freedom to make selfish, childish decisions like driving a giant SUV to the video store that’s 1/8 of a mile away on a sunny but pleasantly cool day interferes with your own grandchildren’s freedom to breathe outside without coughing.

All that being said, I actually don’t like the high-speed rail plan either – but for sensible reasons – no conspiracies necessary. High-speed rail is not an urgent need in our society as it does not solve any current problems. What’s needed is a lot more and a lot better LOCAL public transportation. And, contrary to George Will’s Beckish rantings, this will mean MORE choices open to individuals, not less. George, like-minded pseudo-intellectuals, and overgrown children in general will still be free to pay 4, 5, or maybe even 10 dollars per gallon for gasoline, but those who would choose otherwise and would choose to try to provide a livable (and enjoyable) world for their grandkids will be able to do so.

Every day, individuals make choices between short-term and long-term preferences. Those of us who are blessed with common sense (most of America, I hope) make sacrifices today so that we may live longer, provide for our children, have some hope of future financial security. For example, most fathers might really like to buy a brand new Corvette but realize that, if they do so, their kids may not get to go to college or might not even have shoes to wear next month. As a society, we would do well to follow a similar program. Invest in things like public transportation now – suffer less from high gas prices, deteriorating roads, productivity-killing traffic, and the effects of pollution later. Trains get MORE efficient the more people use them. Can the same be said of cars? So maybe George is right. Progressives do want to change other people’s behavior – we want them to act like responsible adults who can see further ahead than their next purchase at the department store.

You see, George, it’s like this: Your freedom to spit on someone is in direct conflict with that person’s freedom and right not to be spat upon. I conclude from this that freedoms should be prioritized. For example, I fully support, without hesitation, your freedom to write ridiculous nonsense and to publish it as you are able. As is often said, in America, you have the right to be wrong. I believe this because I realize that my individual preference not to hear the blather of a mentally and morally deficient snob pales in comparison to my preference to live in a society that values and protects free speech. Likewise, I prefer to live in a world where my tiny nieces and nephews have a good chance at a healthy, secure future over a world where my own generation indulges consumptive gluttony.

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.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com


A Guinness and An Opinion

Tom Rossi, a friend of mine, is a commentator on politics and social issues living in San Leandro. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resources and economic policy.

Tom will write a weekly post starting tomorrow. He has his opinions and says if you don’t like it, well, let the debate begin! In his own words, Tom “enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.”

Can you go wrong with a man who knows his beer?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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