An American male born one hundred years ago could expect to live 49.6 years. The life expectancy of an American male born today is about 79 years, a full 30% increase in life span.

Isn’t that remarkable? Some of the increase is because of the magnificent technology developed since then, and some is because of antibiotics, but largest measure is because of vaccines, those little pokes most Americans received in the arms when they were young.

Most Americans are strongly patriotic, but ironically a significant number of them resent their national and local democratic institutions, on which they have a direct electoral impact, getting involved in issues of importance.

It became very clear in 1949, after the successful conclusion of World War II, the Truman administration, with the initially demonstrated support of the American people, proposed a national, universal health care program.

An alarmed American Medical Association, strongly opposed to health care reform, solicited the services of Whitaker & Baxter, a conservative political public relations firm, to pit the American public against Truman. Whitaker had discovered that by calling any action by our democratic government “socialism,” detractors could strike fear in the hearts of Americans. So by publicly branding Truman’s initiative “socialized medicine”, they sent Truman’s proposal down to defeat. And nothing in the U.S. related to national health care transpired until Lyndon Johnson proposed government –administered Medicare in 1965.

The social instincts lead an animal to take pleasure in the society of its fellows, to feel a certain amount of sympathy with them, and to perform various services for them.  – Charles Darwin

In the old Burt Bacharach song, we are told that “what the world needs now is love, sweet love.” He was talking, of course, about compassion, a general feeling of concern for those among us struck by misfortune and deprivation. Given the hate and anger in the current election and the violent conflict in so many nations around the world, his plea seems appropriate today.

At the recent Academy Awards event, Leonardo DeCaprio graciously accepted his Oscar for best actor, then ended his remarks with a plea for the world to recognize global warming as an imminent threat.

One of the fundamental principles on which President Obama built his recent State of the Union address was opportunity. He implied that in our free republic all citizens must have reasonable access to the pursuit of individual fulfillment. It’s called the American Dream. He didn’t get much open dissent from either party.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, …

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

-William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming


Work has meant many things to many people.