Richtman Interview – Podcast July 26, 2021

The Impact Of Biden’s Spending Plan On Medicare And Social Security. Democratic Perspective co-host Steve Williamson welcomes back frequent guest Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, to discuss the proposed $3.5 trillion spending plan for human infrastructure.

“The impact on Medicare is huge,” says Richtman. “If this actually happens…it would be the first major expansion of Medicare benefits in nearly 20 years. Now we have an opportunity to add hearing, dental and vision to the program. These are such important components of healthcare that have been neglected over the years.”

Richtman also hopes the bill will include a provision that mandates the federal government negotiate drug prices – an idea supported by 70 -80 percent of voters across party lines. He explains that would save Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries $450 billion over 10 years. But Richtman says that is certain to be opposed by Big Pharma. “The argument that pharmaceutical companies use is that this is socialism. But I thought that negotiating for the best price for anything…to me that’s capitalism.”

Their other argument is that negotiating prices would limit Big Pharma’s ability to do research. But Richtman counters that a lot of the research money that goes into developing drugs comes from the federal government. “I have seen analysis of how much pharmaceutical companies spend on lobbying…tens of millions of dollars. They’re putting money into stock buybacks. They’re putting it into enormous salaries for chief executives…and ads. It’s a phony argument. It’s designed to scare people.”

Richtman notes that the budget proposals do not specifically deal with Social Security. But he says he’s confident that we have a President who has made a commitment to improve Social Security.

Posted in Aging, Budget Negotiations, Capitalism, Economic Policy, Fiscal Policy, Health Care Policy, Interviews, Medicaid, Medicare, National Politics, Pharmaceutical Pricing and Procurement, Pharmaceuticals, Public Health Policy, Social Security, U.S. Budget | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ploog Interview – July 19, 2021

Making Sure Voters Select Their Representatives. Not Vice Versa. Democratic Perspective co-host Steve Williamson welcomes Holli Ploog to the show to discuss the once-every-decade redistricting of legislative and congressional districts in Arizona. Ploog is currently a member of the Sedona City Council.

She begins by explaining that Arizona is one of only 13 states that have an independent redistricting commission to create the districts based on the census. According to Ploog, the commission is comprised of five members – two each appointed by the legislative leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as the chairperson who must be an independent. There cannot be more than one member from a single county. Additionally, members cannot be active in a political party or have run for office within a certain timeframe before the process.

The redistricting process begins with grid maps of contiguous districts with equal population. The commission then modifies the maps according to other factors such as communities of interest (healthcare, transportation, tourism, commerce, education, etc.), as well as geographical boundaries, and competitiveness. Finally, the commission requests the public’s input. It’s a complex, but necessary process to prevent partisan gerrymandering.

Posted in Arizona Politics, Community, Elections, Government, Health Care, Interviews, Political Parties, Public Accountability, Tourism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Epstein, McClelland Interview – July 12, 2021

Arizona’s Race To The Bottom. Our co-hosts welcome Karen McClelland and AZ State Representative Mitzi Epstein to the show to discuss the state budget recently passed by a slim Republican majority. Epstein is a Democratic member of the House of Representatives who has served since 2017.

“This in a word, is a rotten budget,” says Epstein. “A huge tax cut for the very, very wealthy.” She explains that the new budget not only cut taxes for the wealthy. It changed the entire tax structure. “Start with the flat income tax,” she says. “You want income taxes to be progressive, because everything else is regressive. [But] thanks to the Trust Fund tax loophole, if you are extremely wealthy, you can avoid paying taxes altogether.”

One casualty of the budget is funding for public education. According to Epstein and McClelland, the legislature cut education funding by $300 million in defiance of a recently passed voter initiative intended to increase education funding. As a result, Arizona’s teacher salaries will remain the lowest in the nation and its per pupil spending will remain among the nation’s lowest.

The changes are part of the Republican-controlled state government’s desire to be a low tax state. But as Epstein notes, “Arizona is a low tax state only for the wealthiest.”

Posted in Arizona Budget, Arizona Economy, Arizona Politics, Budget Negotiations, Economic Policy, Education, Education Funding, Education Policy, Government, inherited Wealth, Interviews, Political Parties, Political Theory, Public Education, Tax and Investment Policy, Tax Law, Tax Revenues, Taxation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The GOP Brain – Podcast July 5, 2021

The Science Behind Our Political Divide. Following a well-deserved tribute to Barbara J. Litrell on her passing, the co-hosts continue their discussion about the unsettling changes to the GOP. Hava points to scientific studies that show there is a physical difference in the brains of conservatives and liberals. The studies have shown that conservative brains have a larger right amygdala that focuses on fear and the need to feel safe. As a result, conservatives more readily recall negative images and value loyalty and stability. In addition, they more often see things through a religious filter.

On the other hand, liberals have more activity in the left insula and a larger cingulate gyrus. As a result, they love change and new information. They value science. They’re more willing to take risks. And they have greater social awareness.

Hava notes that brain structure and activity can indicate one’s political leanings with a 71-82 percent rate of predictability.

Steve adds that liberals are more interested in personal freedom, justice, and fairness. While conservatives are more concerned with structure and safety. Fear becomes an overriding issue for conservatives. He points to their past and present obsessions with integration, the Cold War, immigration, racial protests, election security, big government, gun laws, and abortion. All of which makes one wonder: Why are they not more concerned about climate change and mass extinctions?

Hava says that knowing that our political leanings have a genetic physical cause kind of humanizes the divide for me. “It takes the emotion out of it.”

Posted in Bigotry, Conservative Paranoia, Conservatives and Reactionaries, Conspiracy Theories, Cultural Change, Cultural Diversity, Domestic Extremism, Ethics, Firearms Legislation, Foreign Affairs, Gun Control, Human Rights, Immigration, LIberals and Conservatives, Morality, National Politics, Political Lies, Racial Discrimination, Refugees, Religion, Social Psychology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

McClelland Interview – Podcast June 28, 2021

The GOP Attack On Education, Expertise, and Democracy. Karen McClelland, the longest-serving Sedona school board member, and a member of the Democratic State Committee joins Steve and Hava in a lively roundtable discussion on the state of the GOP. Beginning with the controversial Arizona budget bill, McClelland says, “There’s nothing particularly good coming out of the budget. In Arizona, the Republican governor writes budget and gives it to the Republican legislative leadership. Often even Republican members don’t know what it contains. It then passes on straight party line vote. This year, the budget contains all sorts of policy issues.”

For those unfamiliar with the budget bill, the GOP-led Senate added wording which would increase the money for school vouchers in defiance of the majority of voters and the GOP-led House added wording that all Arizona schools would have to present a civics curriculum written by the conservative Koch-funded Freedom Institute. McClelland adds that the “budget” bill also forbids teachers from teaching “controversial” subjects, such as Critical Race Theory (which is only taught in university law schools) and the 1619 Project. She says the Republicans do not want students to be taught critical thinking, i.e., the ability to think for oneself.

Asked how to change the super-partisanship of the legislature, McClelland replies, “The only way to change the system is to change the people sitting in the chairs.”

Posted in Arizona Budget, Arizona Politics, Bigotry, Conservative Paranoia, Conservatives and Reactionaries, Conspiracy Theories, Domestic Extremism, Education, Education Funding, Education Policy, Government, Health Care, Interviews, Medicaid, Mental Health Programs, National Politics, Paul Gosar, Political Lies, Privatization, Public Accountability, Public Education, Race and Class, Slavery, Taxation, Voter Suppression | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on McClelland Interview – Podcast June 28, 2021

Rothchild Interview – Podcast June 21, 2021

Examining The Founding Mythology of Israel. Democratic Perspective welcomes Alice Rothchild back to the show to discuss the recent conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Rothchild is a physician, author, activist and filmmaker who has long served as a volunteer in Gaza and the West Bank. She provides an in-depth look at the plight of Palestinians and the lead-up to the most recent conflict.

Rothchild begins by stating, “I believe language is really important and calling it a battle implies there were two armies involved. It was more assault than battle.” She notes that Israel airstrikes targeted homes, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, a media center, even Gaza’s only Covid-19 testing center.

As for what led up to the missile attacks by Hamas, she explains, “Oppressed people have a right to fight their oppression. With all the talking going on, they get no attention. When they fire off rockets, people pay attention.” Regarding possible long-term solutions, Rothchild says, “Hamas wants a peace plan with recognition of Palestinian rights. This is not complicated. The question is how they are going to live together. It’s time to get over this idea that Palestinians are this violent group that wants to destroy Israel.”

She says, “I think we can take inspiration from native peoples in the US. Look at the founding mythology. That was a form of genocide. What Palestinians want is an acknowledgement of history.” Rothchild continues, “If you look at Palestinians, they’re just demanding an equal share. If you actually sit down and talk with Palestinians, it should be reassuring.” To that end, Rothchild refers listeners a Palestinian website: We Are Not Numbers. “It’s a really good way to know what they’re thinking.”

Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Compassion, Cultural Change, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Genocide, Human Rights, International Relations, Interviews, Labor Unions, Middle East, Middle East Policy, National Politics, Palestinian/Israeli Conflict | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Rothchild Interview – Podcast June 21, 2021

Colvin Interview – Podcast June 14, 2021

From Plato To Medicine. Democratic Perspective welcomes Dr. Marvin Colvin, DO, to discuss his unique hands-on, relationship style of medical care.

After being raised in a fundamentalist Christian church, Colvin was introduced to Plato in high school. The experience caused him to go searching for the truth. That led to an exploration of spirituality and healing – how healing is integral to life’s journey. He explains how his style of medicine is different from most modern transactional medicine and how he sees an overlap of spirituality and healing.

“Every interaction that occurs, you’re either teaching or learning,” he says. “Basically, it’s a dialogue. I schedule my patients on a half hour and sometimes that’s not enough. My patients and I enjoy each other. It’s all about keeping a relationship going and see what’s next. Sometimes I just have to follow my hands.”

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Richtman Interview – Podcast June 7, 2021

The Infrastructure Of Aging. Steve Williamson welcomes back Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare to discuss the $400 billion for elderly care included in President Biden’s infrastructure bill.

Though it’s not what many consider infrastructure, Richtman stresses the importance of the proposal as an additional 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. At some point, most of those people will require some form of care. It’s more efficient and humane to care for them in their own homes. But, Richtman says, “There simply are not enough homecare workers in this country to meet the demand now, let alone in the future.”

Richtman explains that one of the reasons for the shortage is that salaries are so pitiful (the average salary is just $17,000 a year).  He adds, “One of the things I find that is so amazing is that we are relying on unpaid caregivers in this country. Mostly women. They often have to leave the work force.” According to Richtman, this compounds the problem, noting that when they leave the workforce, they’re not paying into Social Security. As a result, they’re sacrificing their own Social Security benefits in the future. He says the proposed bill would create a caregivers’ formula that would be applied to the Social Security structure so their benefits would not be reduced.

Richtman notes the proposal is about 20 percent of the president’s infrastructure bill. “I think it’s important to give Biden credit for trying to prioritize elderly homecare in this package,” he says. “We’re going to have more seniors requiring care with fewer young people around to provide it.”

Posted in Aging, Domestic Policy, Economic Policy, Fiscal Policy, Government, Health Care Delivery, Infrastructure, Interviews, Jobs and Employment, Labor Shortages, Medicaid, Medicare, National Politics, Pandemic, Pharmaceutical Pricing and Procurement, Public Health Policy, Public Policy, Public Private Collaboration, Social Insurance, Social Security, Women's Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Richtman Interview – Podcast June 7, 2021

Comello, Segner Interview – Podcast May 31, 2021

Troubled Sedona: Rumors, Conflicts And Social Media. Democratic Perspective host Steve Williamson welcomes Al Comello and Steve Segner back to the show to discuss the many issues facing Sedona, one of the world’s premier tourist spots. Comello is Vice Chairman of the Board of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau and Segner is the owner-operator of Sedona’s El Portal hotel and President of the Lodging Council.

Lately, conflicts surrounding issues such as ATVs, short-term rentals, traffic, parking, and low-cost housing have exploded on social media resulting in much anger directed toward the City Council and the Chamber of Commerce. Segner says that it all may be a political reaction to how they view government and a lack of understanding of how government works. He says, “We’re not discussing problems. We’re fighting them. People blow things out of proportion. What it comes down to is that they just don’t want any change.”

“They say that the city doesn’t listen to the residents. They only listen to the tourists. But nothing could be further from the truth,” says Comello. Addressing the reluctance to build affordable housing in the city, Comello explains, “There are about 10,000 people who have jobs in Sedona. But only about 15 percent live here. Restaurants here are closing because they can’t find staff…Right now, the town is in a real bind.”

Segner notes that there are plenty of opportunities to provide real input to the city. He encourages more people to get involved, to discuss issues at City Council meetings instead of complaining on social media.

Posted in Civil Society, Community, Community Activism, Conservative Paranoia, Democratic Governance, Demographic Trends, Development, Disinformation, Government, Growth, Housing, Interviews, Jobs and Employment, Local Politics, Public Accountability, Scandal Mongering, Social Media, Sustainable Development, Tourism | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Comello, Segner Interview – Podcast May 31, 2021

Derby, Williamson Interview – Podcast May 24, 2021

Hava And Steve One On One. The co-hosts spend some time chatting with one another to explain their differing approaches to politics and community. As the founder Democratic Perspective, Steve has been involved in politics for many years, while Hava is relatively new to politics. She describes herself as more of a community-interested person.

Reflecting on the current state of politics, Steve says, “I see a lot of divisiveness and anger. It’s local, too. I’m most disturbed by the lack of knowledge.” Hava looks at the divisiveness as more of a human issue saying, “We need to look at how our relationships are with each other. A lot of people are traumatized human beings. We have to really come to this with a compassionate heart. I’m really hopeful as we’re beginning to wind down lockdowns that people are going to talk to each other. I hope that things will get back to a more human level.”

The two go on to offer their thoughts on community, nationalism, the criminal justice system and more.

Posted in Civic Renewal, Civil Society, Community, Community Activism, Criminal Justice Reform, Cultural Change, Government, Interviews, Justice System, Local Politics, Policing, Political Polarization, Public Accountability, Social Contract | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Derby, Williamson Interview – Podcast May 24, 2021