Monday, May 31, 2010

A Memorial Day Message

On this Memorial Day, I’d like to make a plea for some forgotten people.

Humanitarian aid and development workers deserve benefits similar to what military veterans receive.

These people perform an invaluable service for our country, helping others in war-torn, impoverished, and devastated areas of the world. Wherever they go, they give everything they’ve got to the populations they work with and everything they do improves the standing of the United States around the world.

Increasingly, they are coming under attack. The group Médecins Sans Frontières spent 24 years in Afghanistan (since the beginning of the Soviet-Afghan war), only pulling out after the deaths of several doctors. Dozens of Red Cross workers have died in areas of man-made and natural disaster.

Most humanitarian and development workers make little if any money. Peace Corps workers, for example, are volunteers. All they get is a temporary deferment on their student loans while actually working for the Corps.

Although many are private contractors, our government should provide them with at least the education and healthcare benefits our soldiers are rewarded with.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rand Paul Raises a Good Question

Rand Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act raises a primary question that we’ve all been avoiding.

Paul said that he supports equal rights, but that a business owner should be allowed to discriminate. So, the question he raises is this:

Whose freedom?

Requiring a restaurant owner to serve someone he doesn’t like impinges on his freedom, but allowing him to discriminate impinges on the individual’s freedom.

Forbidding a kid from walking across my grass impinges his freedom, but requiring me to allow it damages mine.

Walking down the street in a bikini would impinge on the freedom of someone who doesn’t want their child to see it, but requiring a woman to cover up infringes on her freedom.

No matter what the issue, freedom is always a balancing act. A restauranteur must serve someone of another race, but he doesn’t have to allow him in his house. A woman needs to cover up in court, but when she walks down the street, dad can cover his child’s eyes.

I’ve heard many knee-jerk reactions to Rand Paul, but whatever the issue, we’ve got to look at both sides and find a proper balance.