Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Child Porn at Sundance?

Right now, as I blog, the Sundance Film Festival is going on in Park City, Utah. Sundance is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the nation, if not the world, and it's going on right here in Park City, with some shows in Salt Lake City as well.

Sundance is no stranger to controversy. This year, though, there's one movie that's getting some buzz. If half of what I'm hearing is true, I can't believe the movie even got made. The movie is called "Hounddog" and part of its story line involves the rape of the main character, a 12 year old girl. Child star Dakota Fanning plays the girl, and apparently the filmmakers didn't leave as much to the imagination as they should have. In fact, some of the reports I've heard say the scene was rather graphic, and may border on child pornography.

If you understood what I just wrote, you understand that mean that a minor child, Dakota Fanning, was allowed by her parents and her agent, to film a graphic child rape scene.

Tell me, please. How is this okay?

Guess what. It's not. I don't care what excuse you try and give me. Any excuse you can make to say that this kind of thing is okay is a lie and you know it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've not seen the movie. If this is the subject matter, I don't want to. If it's anything like this article says it is, I have to agree with this section from it:

Kiera McCaffery, Spokesperson, Catholic League of America: "Nobody is denying that this girl filmed the graphic rape scene. What we are saying is that we'd like the government to look at it."

McCaffery says the League's concern is over child stars who may be too young to make wise career decisions.

Kiera McCaffery, Spokesperson, Catholic League of America: "What we are saying is yes, this girl's mother and her social worker may have been with her, but we don't care that they gave consent. If anything this troubles us even more that these people are saying it's ok to film this for a twelve year old because she may win an Oscar."
Now, no one from the League has even seen the film yet. But McCaffery says she doesn't need to see it to know it's wrong.

Kiera McCaffery, Spokesperson, Catholic League of America: "I think that anyone that would argue that you need to see a child act as if she is getting raped to know that it is disgusting...that's absurd."

Absurd it putting it mildly.

On a lighter note, there's a bit of irony surrounding Utah's film industry. The book, "The Monkey Wrench Gang" is going to be made into a movie. It's a somewhat famous story of environmentalist saboteurs in Utah. The story prominently features specific Utah locations.

Guess what? It's going to be filmed in New Mexico.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

State of Utah

Last night, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman delivered his yearly "State of the State" address. I think my state's governor is on to something. I can only hope that he's going to be able to put through the things he's talking about. Let me give you a preview.

As for education:

These fine teachers, and thousands of their colleagues, deserve our sincere appreciation. To show this gratitude my budget calls for 18.2% in new education funding. This includes $25 million for a one-time bonus for Utah teachers in the classroom. But we must continue to do more. Much more. For these reasons, my complete education proposal - which includes a 9% increase in compensation - represents the largest total public education budget in our State's history.

I think that's a good idea. A 9% increase in teacher's salaries will help, that's for sure. He's got a lot better chance of getting support for it because all the school administrators (which there are too many of) will be getting a raise, as well. I think another fiscally sound solution to getting more money into the places it needs to would be to fire a bunch of these administrative "middle men."

By fundamentals, I mean helping Utah children receive adequate healthcare. It is an irony that we live in a country which mandates insurance for our cars, but not for our children's health. For too long the lament over the large number of those without health insurance has been fragmented and unproductive. We must stop seeing this crisis as a one dimensional social issue. The large number of those without health insurance nationally and in our own State highlights a dilemma in defining the proper role of government and a critical challenge to the exercise of individual responsibility. I am recommending more than $4 million to lift the cap on the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which will allow more than 14,000 additional Utah children access to the health care they so desperately need.

In addition to the children, there are hundreds of thousands of uninsured adults. We must stop kidding ourselves that those who are uninsured are simply not receiving health care. They are receiving care, but they are receiving too little, too late - and typically in settings such as emergency rooms where the care is much more expensive than if it had been provided elsewhere. And who is paying for this care? In rare cases it is the uninsured themselves, but in the overwhelming number of cases it is government - which, of course, means taxpayers - and, the hospitals - which, of course, means the business community - in the form of higher and higher and higher premiums for those who are buying and providing health insurance.

Wow. Maybe he's been reading my blogs.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Health Care in Utah

Health Care may be coming up in the next Utah legislative session. It seems we have a budget surplus of over 1 billion dollars in the state. Now everyone wants a piece of the pie. I'm not against given it to some of them, as long as they handle it well. It looks like one Utah State Senator (D), Scott McCoy, wants to got beyond deciding what to do with the surplus and create a Utah state constitutional amendment that declares health care a human right.

This is a rough one for me. While I claim to be a capitalist, when it comes to issues like health care, I'm borderline socialist. There are two alternatives when it comes to issues surrounding the uninsured, and the under-insured. We either take care of them, or we let them die.

While our Republican legislative leaders are promising to fund various health care issues, they are also the first ones to talk about the amount of money the uninsured and the under-insured cost us each year.

My personal opinion is that the programs we have in place, such as Medicare and Medicaid, are rewarding the wrong things. Many times a patient's basic care won't be covered, but life threatening conditions will. What happens, then, is that the basic diseases and syndromes get worse, and contribute to the development of long-term life-threatening issues. It's the treatments for these life-threatening issues that cost so much. A better solution, in my mind, would be to fund the best of the basic interventions and preventions. I believe that investing in simple preventative treatments will help halt the development of the life-threatening ones, saving us money in the long run.

Maybe we should try and stop people from getting terribly sick in the first place, instead of enacting a constitutional amendment that may, or may not, actually do anything.