May 17, 2013

Myth-using a good word

I always kind of cringe when I hear the word myth used to signify commonly held but wrong belief, as in, for example, the myth of welfare dependency. I think of myths as stories that provide meaning to life. The word itself means something like plot in Greek. The more I think about it, though, wrongly held beliefs often do function as a kind of myth that does tell a story and provide meaning, even if it isn't accurate.

Today a friend of mine produced a well done blog post titled The "Welfare Dependency" Myth in West Virginia. It does a good job of pointing out that widespread dependency on such kinds of aid for families has in fact dramatically declined..

Still, the delusion of widespread welfare dependency does function as a dark myth that gives meaning to mean-spirited people who like to bash the poor, most of whom are seen as unworthy. This kind of myth justifies cutting such programs, sometimes even by claiming that this would really help poor people in the long run.

Since myths are something we apparently can't live without, the only viable course seems to be to come up with a better one.

I'VE BEEN THINKING THIS TOO. From the same source, here's another post about how Medicaid expansion can help deal with substance abuse, a major factor in prison overcrowding.


May 16, 2013

This n that

I try to make it a policy to take whacks at deserving targets whenever possible. One such target is austerity economics. Here's a good whack from Dissent and another from the NY Review of Books.

ROCK ON, FRANCIS! How about that new pope?

MORE ON MEDICAID. Finally, here's a good op-ed by an ally on why expanding Medicaid in WV is a good idea.


May 14, 2013

From Vikings to Quakers

I've been amusing myself lately by blogging about the Vikings, those fun loving Norsemen of old who liked to swill mead and plunder monasteries. I was even more amused to learn a while back of a connection between Vikings and Quakers, two groups most people don't usually associate together.

It turns out that the North Midlands of England, where Quakerism was strong in its early years, was also the place with the most Viking colonists back in the day. In David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in American, the author quotes historian Hugh Barbour as saying,

" the central region of the North, the Pennine moorland, where Quakerism was strongest, the villages were mainly Norse in origin and name, and Norse had been spoken there in the Middle Ages. From the Norsemen came the custom of moots, or assemblies in the open at a standing stone or hilltop grave, which may have influenced the Quaker's love for such meeting places."

I enjoy the thought that the great great great....grandfather of an earnest Friend might have been a berserker back in the day. I guess it's more proof that Odin has a sense of humor.


TWO FROM COAL TATTOO. Here's a post from my friend Ken Ward about the future central Appalachian coal. along with one on the new book about Massey Energy and its former CEO Don Blankenship


May 13, 2013

A bitter disappointment

El Cabrero has recently listened to and enjoyed a series of lectures on the Vikings by Michael Drout. I must admit, however, that I was bitterly disappointed to learn a couple of things.

First, it turns out that they may not have had horns on their helmets. That was kind of a downer. But I was positively crushed to learn that they didn't really drink from the skulls of their enemies. I mean, heck, the only reason I started doing that was to be more like them. Guess I'll revert to ordinary drinking vessels...

More musings on the Norse to come. Unless Ragnarok happens, in which case we'll all be kind of busy

SPEAKING OF VIKINGS, here's a great NY Times op-ed on why austerity kills. It turns out that the descendants of the Vikings in Iceland managed to deal with their economic crisis without inflicting wholesale misery on ordinary people.




May 12, 2013

Mother's Day and much more

Lots of people celebrated Mother's Day this Sunday. I wonder how many know that the mother of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, was a West Virginian. A social activist, over time she became disillusioned by the commercialization of the day she helped to create. Read a bit more here.

WHAT'S THE PLAN? In this op-ed by a friend of mine, the writer asks Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, exactly what she proposes as an alternative.

AND WHAT'S AFFORDABLE? In this one, yours truly responds to the same theme.

GASSED UP. Here's one by another friend of mine on how WV can do better in regulating and otherwise managing the Marcellus Shale gas play.

FEED TO ACHIEVE. Here's more on new WV legislation to combat child malnutrition and improve health and school performance.