It was with great alarm, but little surprise, that I read of President Bush's veto of legislation that would increase the availability of health insurance to our nation's uninsured children.
The relatively modest increase in funding for the program over the next five years, as compared to the seemingly never-ending cash hemorrhage we are funding with our tax dollars in Iraq, appears to be a small price to pay for the health and welfare of our children. The President's feeble attempt to paint this legislation as partisan politics is both disingenuous and disheartening, but it is "business as usual."
The overt threat to disrupt the benefits being provided to existing participants in the program with a veto is hardly a leadership position. The Bush Administration's effort to characterize the increased cigarette tax, which would be used to fund the program's expansion, as an objectionable "new tax" is wholly inconsistent with what should be the indisputable objective of our national health care policy - the elimination of cigarette smoking in our society.
Perhaps I have a misunderstanding of the significance of cigarettes as a public-health concern in this country. If increasing the cost of cigarettes causes fewer people to smoke, or induces those who continue to smoke to do so less, while our children receive the health care they so desperately need, that's a win-win situation from where I sit.
Richard R. Malone
Conservative, liberal brains are different
I have always wondered why some conservatives stubbornly stick to their opinions despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Two examples are their refusal to accept global warming, and the role of humans in exacerbating it, and their insistence that we are winning the war in Iraq.
A recent article in the journal Nature Neuroscience may explain this. New York University psychologist David Amodio conducted an experiment that resulted in his concluding that liberals and conservatives have brains that process information differently.
In his study, volunteers rated themselves on a scale between strongly liberal and strongly conservative; they then took a test that measured their reaction to conflict and change. The test involved reacting to letters flashed briefly on a computer screen; most of the letters were M, but every now and then the stream of letters was interrupted by a W. The test subjects were asked to continually press a button whenever they saw an M, but to do nothing when a W came up.
Liberals were more than twice as likely to react to the Ws when they came along. Brain scans showed that liberals had more activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region in the forebrain that allows people to break from habit when necessary. The liberal brain was more likely to alter its views based on new evidence, rather than discount new evidence in order to maintain a steady opinion, as conservative brains do.
In today's rapidly evolving world, the old advantage of "sticking to your guns no matter what," wherein new information is viewed as distracting and or irrelevant, can become dangerous and even deadly. I believe we now need adaptability rather than steadfastness in our leaders of the future.
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