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Showing posts from May, 2018

Abortion in Ireland

Abortion in Ireland      Gerry O'Shea In the early 1980's, 35 or so years ago, a group of sincere and zealous Catholics raised the alarm in Ireland about a major societal problem that wasn't identified by any of the political parties at that time. They pointed to the frequency of abortions in Europe and America and especially in neighboring Britain where they claimed that pregnancy terminations were performed with the same frequency and nonchalance as a dentist carrying out a tooth extraction. These men warned that even though abortion was illegal and no political party at that time was indicating a possible change of policy on the issue, that future politicians or, more likely judges, might change the law and lead the country in the direction of our "pagan" neighbor. Their campaign, which was strongly supported by the Catholic bishops, was successful, and in the fall of 1983 a clause was inserted in the Irish constitution giving equal legal status to a

Poverty in America

Poverty in America              Gerry O'Shea Official statistics reveal that over 40 million Americans are living in poverty with about 25% of children deemed not   meeting basic living standards in food or housing or healthcare - in   many cases failing in all three vital categories that determine a person's ability to enjoy a full life. The recent Republican budget directed multiple billions to large corporations and   to millionaires and set aside big increases for the   Defense Budget, which last year exceeded the defense allotment of the next six countries combined. Some middle class taxpayers are promised that when everything falls into place they will see modest increases in their take - home pay. As for the poor, their food, housing and medical programs will be cut back, in some instances substantially, in an effort to pay for the windfall going to the top earners. How can one explain the dismal treatment of poor people in the richest country in the world

The Evangelical Conundrum in America

The Evangelical Conundrum       Gerry O'Shea Some readers may remember John Healy, the great County Mayo political journalist who wrote for the Irish Times in the 1960's and 70's. When he was trying to explain some very unusual political development, some story about   intriguing     actions that were not responsive to normal rational analysis, he would rhetorically invite his readers to help him to make sense of   whatever knotty issue he was dealing with by asking the memorable question: "Riddle me that!" In the 2016 Presidential election, almost 80% of evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, a somewhat higher number than supported Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in 2012. Their loyalty to   him   continues to be very strong   with only a slight slippage in the last year in his support among female evangelicals. Early in the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump was   asked about his religious beliefs and whether he ever asked God for forgiveness. He t

The Shrinking Middle Class

The Shrinking Middle Class         Gerry O'Shea The expression Banana Republic is often used to describe the way the economy operates in most of the countries in Central and South America. The people at the top, including the army brass, the government elite and, of course, the business leaders enjoy the best the country has to offer, while the great majority of the rest of the people work long hours for low wages and minimal benefits. By comparison, all the Western democracies have a large and vibrant middle class, people who earn sufficient income to ensure that their children get a good education and who often own their own homes. This is the essence of the American Dream: hard work, a good education, a family home with the promise of a better life for the next generation. This situation is changing dramatically in the United States. The top 1% now owns 70% of the wealth of the country while the bottom 90% can claim just 27%.   In a recent international study dea