Independent Pursuits

On Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 7:00 p.m., I attended the Demosthenian Literary Society’s weekly meeting. The meetings typically consist of a mix of extemporaneous and auxiliary debate. The first debate usually involves politics, current events, or history; the second usually revolves around philosophy, religion, ethics, or societal standards, and the third is usually of a more playful and humorous nature. At this particular meeting, the first debate questioned whether or not America is China’s slave with evidence that was mostly economic in nature. The second debate proposed that feminism is a dead issue. Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman as well as double standards for men and women in society were both brought up during the successive speeches. The following Monday, the society held a speaker’s workshop at which attendants drew resolutions from a hat and spoke extemporaneously on the given topics. The resolution I drew out of the hat read: “Be it resolved: Bring back the space shuttle.” I argued against this resolution on the contentions of the need for creation of jobs, the need for allocation of funds for government entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, and the opportunities for technological advancements that such an action would impede upon. After someone delivered a speech, members and guests alike told each speaker what he/she could improve upon whether it be body language, oratory style, or speech content. Other resolution topics that were spoken on included parental authority on childhood abortions, classical conditioning, and parental role on a child’s sex. The meeting was helpful in allowing guests to strengthen their speaking skills as well as inform guests of various issues and respective points of view.

On Wednesday, September 14, I attended a lunchbox lecture with Dr. Monica Gaughan about health care reform. She began with simple facts about the health care reform bill and pointed out problems with the status quo. We learned that the bill is around 1,000 pages in length even in tiny print. One problem with our current system is the cost of everything. Most people agree that health insurance policies are too expensive; for a family, the average premium is almost $14,000 dollars a year and growing. Since more people are aging, health care costs are the fastest growing part of the federal budget. Another problem is the loopholes inherent in the system. As of now, people buying insurance may be turned down as the result of having a pre-existing health condition, meaning some of the people least likely to have coverage are the ones who need it most. Due to high costs and holes in our system, more than one in seven of us have no health insurance. To address the issue of high costs, insurers will be limited in how they spend premium dollars; if insurance corporations use too much money for administrative costs or profits, they will have to give some of it back through rebates. Preventive care, such as screenings and vaccinations, will become free in all new private insurance policies and in Medicare. Furthermore, it will be illegal to turn children down for having a pre-existing health condition like asthma or diabetes. After lecturing on the actual policies in the health care reform bill, Dr. Gaughan invited us to discuss the long-term consequences of these policies. She noted that the need for general physicians will be even greater after the reform bill helps ensure that more people are insured; the need for specialists will diminish even further. For this reason, I aspire to become a general physician; the void for family doctors will be even greater come 2014.