Shrink insurance and government down to size! Patient-centered medical care is possible.
By Dr. Larry Fedewa (August 24,2018)
Much of our political discourse today demonstrates an appalling lack of understanding of the most fundamental elements of the American economy. There are two kinds of organizations which comprise the United States economy: for profit and not-for-profit. The only engine for making money is the for-profit sector, that is, businesses which buy and sell products and services.
On the day before the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother (August 14, 2018), the latest bombshell in the ongoing curse of the Catholic clergy was finally released by the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro. The official title of the 1356-page document is 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury Report I [Redacted]. It further destroyed whatever was left of the moral authority of the Catholic bishops of the Pennsylvania dioceses involved, and by extension all the other American bishops as well.
The Report is the work of a Grand Jury which sat for two years listening to stories of child abuse, brutality, and destruction too horrific to even hear, let alone experience. The perpetrators of these criminal acts were not human traffickers or pimps or terrorists.
They were Catholic priests.
But even worse is the fact that these monsters were shielded, protected and even encouraged by the successors of the Apostles, the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania. Of all the conclusions which were reached by the Grand Jury. the most emphatic is that the responsibility for this terrible lapse of decency lies directly at the feet of the bishops, who colluded, enabled, and facilitated massive pedophilia. The degradation and destruction of thousands of innocent children by hundreds of priests is a stain on the Church of Christ which will never be erased. It is far more pernicious than Martin Luther’s propositions or Henry VIII’s many wives. The difference this time is that no wars will be fought by the victims against the clergy. The masses of the faithful will simply continue to drift away.
So, the question arises, “What now?” Are these acts against nature events of the past? Are there still monsters wearing Roman collars in our midst? Are today’s bishops still hiding them? And, what accountability faces the bishops who have betrayed the Church? The bishops’ solutions so far have been elaborate reporting and investigations of alleged incidents to the diocese. What was done with these detailed investigations? The Report details extensive lists of crimes reported and documented which led to “counseling”, transfers, suspensions, and above all – secrecy! No one was reported t police; no one went to jail. The cover-up has continued! In fact, the reason for the delay of publishing the Report was lawsuits of active clergy protesting that publication of their names would impact their livelihood! The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reduced the redactions and ordered the publication. World to Bishops: there is only one report that should be made for any incidence of child molestation: CALL THE POLICE!
Changes in statutes of limitation
The Report presents several recommendations which address both the necessity of extending the law to accommodate the rights of victims to demand justice from the Church and to assure compliance with the laws protecting children in the future on the part of the bishops. The lawsuits which are sure to follow will bankrupt the local dioceses. The financial links between the various organizations within the Catholic Church – archdioceses, religious orders, the Vatican, etc. – are sure to be tested, as the search for assets advances. The future of the American Catholic Church as a viable organization is thus at risk.
Underneath the obvious questions about the financial costs of accountability, however, is the fact that disclosure and reformation has had to come from outside the Church rather than from its own conscience – to the profound embarrassment that all Catholics are bound to feel about this evil cancer. It is eating at the very foundations of our Church, which is supposed to preach the Word of God in our lives.
Indeed, if there were ever a case of John Lord Acton’s observation that “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, this is it. The best solution to the abuse of power has always been to disburse power among many. This logic argues for changes in the hierarchical structure of Church governance. Bishops have forfeited their right to absolute power. The thousands of innocent victims of child molestation all over the world have proven conclusively that there must be another structure developed to hold every bishop accountable for his actions.
|In the 1830’s, John England, first bishop of Charleston South Carolina, deigned a diocesan governance system modeled after the American government. It consisted of a General Council composed of lay Catholics elected by the parishes and a Clergy Council appointed by the Bishop, with authority over the entire diocese (including financial and personnel matters) subject to the veto of the bishop. (See The life and times of John England, first bishop of Charleston (1786-1842). Peter Guilday, New York, The American Press, 1927). A system like that would have averted the entire crisis.|
By Dr. Larry Fedewa (August 11, 2018)
The term, “Deep State”, is used increasingly in discussions of the current confrontations between the Trump administration and its opponents in government and politics. What – or who – is the “Deep State”?
The term originated to describe a group of military, political and industrial conspirators who more or less ruled Turkey for most of the 20th century (and who may be making a comeback now). The first use of the term to describe America’s ruling class may have been Mike Lofgren’s 2016 book, The Deep State, a profoundly pessimistic account of the marginalization of democratic elections in the governance of the United States of America in favor of a cabal of highly placed individuals from business, unions, academia and government bureaucracy who use their enormous wealth to dictate government policy.
As used in the current dialog, mostly by conservatives, the “Deep State” refers to the anti-Trump conspirators within the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and perhaps the Department of State (DOS). While the opposition Democratic party is a major supporter of the Deep State, none of their number have been credibly accused of direct participation in the conspiracy.
by Lawrence J. Fedewa (July 20. 2018)
Russians have been aggressively attempting to disrupt elections in Western democracies for decades. Before computers, they used newspapers, media, spies, and bribery to further their disinformation campaigns. There have been periodic episodes of American resistance ever since, starting with the Joseph McCarthy debacle in the 1950’s. Russians’ use of computer technology has grown apace with the expansion of the digital age, and has been tracked by the National Security Agency (NSA) since the beginning. Hacking and illegal use of stolen information is just one of many tools used for Russian information.
It is also true that the NSA engages in similar monitoring of Russian digital traffic. Nor are American efforts limited to Russia, as shown a few years ago by the scandal of US interception of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private telephone conversations. Electronic spying of everybody on everybody else is the way of today’s world. It is therefore somewhat disingenuous for the American government to highlight recent Russian activities as though the Russians just thought of electronic meddling in an American election when Hillary Clinton decided to run for president again in 2015.
Now, let’s look at the Mueller/Rosenstein indictments of Russian GRU officers.
By Lawrence J. Fedewa (July 9, 2018)
This is the story of my 1970s experimental college. The design and experience seem to be once again relevant and may contribute to to the current debate. In a word, I developed a college based on an individual curriculum for each student.
Even though I was the second youngest member of the faculty, I was appointed Dean of the College at a small private school near Kansas City, Missouri., which was starved for money, students and ideas. In an attempt to bolster our enrollment and our finances, I took a week away from the office to write a proposal for a federal grant.
The proposal turned out to be a design for a college radically different than any of us were used to. That was challenge enough, but the real challenges began when our proposal was funded with $1.2 million a year for three years!
We began by convincing a large local company, Hallmark Cards, to donate some space for a branch campus in their new downtown office buildings, which I then took over as President of the new campus. I started out alone in a big room with a fancy title, and a big budget. I had to find furniture, equipment, some staff, and some walls, But first came the real challenge namely, the curriculum itself.
First, I threw out the “Higher Education Owners’ Manual”, i.e. the rules and customs surrounding traditional higher education. In my proposal, I had specified that the new college be aimed at older students, preferably over 25 years of age. As Dean, I had watched so many students drop out of college that I wanted college to be available for them to come back to when they were ready.
There appeared to be two vital considerations which had been overlooked in the traditional college:
1. Learning is a personal activity and should be student-centered, not structured for the convenience of the institution.
2. Learning is not divided into pricing units, i.e. credits, and learning experiences cannot be properly measured or evaluated with such tools.
What is a college degree?
In order to build a new curriculum model, some definitions had to be refined. First, what is a college degree? The answer was that a college degree is a public declaration by a qualified faculty that a recognizable body of knowledge and skills has been attained by an individual. It is therefore essential that the faculty have sufficient experience of the person’s capabilities to enable a considered evaluation. A corollary is that every student must be enrolled for some period of observation in the same institution which is to grant the degree – no quickies.
What is meant by “student-centered?”
The next question was, What is meant by “student-centered?” I am a great believer in the value of motivation in the learning process. Thus, my logical question to the student was, “What would you like to know that you don’t know already? Since you have to be enrolled here anyway, why not use the time profitably?” This question was the first step toward the student’s academic plan, that is his or her personal curriculum. The academic plan consisted of three elements:
1. “What is your learning goal?”
2. “How much do you know now?” and
3. “How can you make up the difference?”
The Portfolio Plan
Typically, each student needed some guidance in designing the academic plan. So, we assigned each to an academic counselor, or coach. We found that a good beginning was what we called the “Portfolio Plan.” The student was encouraged to construct a portfolio showing every formal learning experience he or she had had to that date. The student was required to include proof of anything that has ever been learned – including college transcripts, military courses, professional training, awards, jobs which demonstrated expertise, publications – everything. Some of the portfolios were enormous; we had to find extra storage while they were being evaluated. I am aware that “credit for experience” has become almost routine; but we were among the first to introduce this methodology. Our approach differed fundamentally from later programs in that we did not attempt to convert experience into college credits. The value of the experience was simply to validate the student’s answer to the question, “How much do you know now?” All inclusions had to be accepted by the Academic Counselor, and later by the Major Professor. In case of a dispute, the Academic Counsellor would act as the student advocate.
During the course of this exercise, many students began to discover their academic goals. They were encouraged to consider real life ambitions, and the results were unorthodox, but valid. Examples were: oral history, dance therapy, strategic (business) planning, and many others.
The next step was the design of the curriculum to achieve the academic goal. At this point, a specialist in the general field of the proposed academic goal, whom we called the “Major Professor,” was introduced to the student. This was a member of the College faculty, typically a Ph.D. in the field. However, volunteers from the community were frequently necessary because of the unusual nature of the student’s chosen field of study. The Academic Advisor then took on additional duties as coordinator of the interactions between the student, the major professor and the expert mentor. Our experience was that these experts were all willing and excited to participate. As President of the new college, I personally recruited and briefed these distinguished individuals. I was never refused. Interestingly, even though we offered stipends, we never had to pay for their services. They universally found that they too were learning through this assignment.
The academic plans that evolved were very interesting. The oral historian was mentored by the Director of Oral History at the Truman Presidential Library in nearby Independence, Missouri. Dance therapy was co-invented by the student and the Chief of Psychiatry at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. The strategic planner was tutored by the top executive for research and planning at Hallmark Cards. These are only a few of the community experts who were enlisted to help our students.
The Thesis and Graduation
In order to ensure academic validity, the Major Professor met regularly with the student and occasionally with the outside mentor. The final product of the academic plan had to be written and documented in the manner of a thesis, based on the new expertise which had been gained through this experience. Finally, borrowing from a doctoral program, the student was required to present the thesis to a panel of senior professors, who read the thesis, and then discussed the work in open forum with the candidate. If the thesis and the interview (to ensure authorship) were satisfactory, the student was graduated with an appropriate degree. All of the graduates walked into new jobs or promotions based on their academic work.
This system was wildly successful. The very first seminar meeting for the program was designed for about 15 students. More than 100 showed up the first night. We decided to charge a flat annual fee for the program – at a rather high figure for the times. We quickly discovered that employers were happy to subsidize their employees, although I had to make a few calls in the beginning to familiarize the personnel directors with the program. After the first year or so, the question never again arose.
Air Force Pilots
There was another dimension to the program as well. The home campus had a longstanding Degree Completion Program for U.S. military personnel. In conjunction with nearby Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, where I had been privileged to serve as an adviser to the Community College of the Air Force, we offered the Portfolio Plan to Air Force personnel as well as civilian students.
The most dramatic example of this new “distance learning” was the Air Force pilots, who were allowed to use their training flights to come to Richards-Gebaur and also to the college offices to have conferences with their counselors and professors. They came for all over – Alaska, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Texas and all points of the compass. Never have I seen more enthusiasm for academic work than I saw with these guys – unless it was the excitement that pervaded the entire student body. This reaction was certainly proof that motivation is a primary ingredient of successful learning.
After the program had graduated its first students, I arranged for the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the regional accreditation authority, to visit and evaluate the program. This was a two-step process. First, I paid three highly respected North Central evaluators to conduct their own investigation and to author a report. There were a couple of suggestions for minor adjustments, which we instituted immediately.
Then I invited the North Central to send an official team for an accreditation evaluation. Upon their arrival, we provided them with the report of the distinguished professors. In the end, our experiment passed accreditation with flying colors – much to the surprise even of a couple of the examiners.
After three years, circumstances drew me away from the new college. The program was relocated to the main campus and, I was told, eventually assimilated into the traditional curriculum.
But it was a heady experience for us all while it lasted!
© Richfield Press, Ltd. 2018 All Rights Reserved
by Lawrence J. Fedewa (June 23,2018)
The most striking feature of American politics today may well be the completely different perceptions held by various groups of what “facts” each considers to be truth. It’s like they are living in different worlds. While there are some cynical “realists” who knowingly fashion “fake news”, many partisans sincerely believe their views to be correct. So much so that they feel moral indignation and outrage at the other side.
At the root of these reactions is fear. All are afraid, in varying degrees, that their way of life is threatened by the other actors on the political stage. It is fear which drives people to irrational conclusions and closes their ears and minds to dialog with those who disagree with them. When logic is thrown out the window, all that remains is instinct. Imagination can be formed by logic, but fear obscures all but the most dangerous fantasies.
Apparently, the FBI involvement in this entire episode was originally triggered by the obvious questions about Hillary Clinton’s use of private emails. Obama’s FBI Director James Comey realized that the situation posed a potentially fatal threat to her eligibility to run for president. He believed it was his responsibility to neutralize that threat, possibly on orders from President Obama, perhaps through Attorney General Loretta Lunch. Accordingly, he initiated an FBI investigation, but kept control in his own office, using a hand-picked group of investigators, who were known to Comey as sympathetic to Clinton/Obama.
by Lawrence J. Fedewa (May 26, 2018)
Just when white America reckoned that the election of a black President had finally signaled that racial equality in America had been achieved, it has become obvious that the distance between the races may be greater than ever, at least for large groups of both races. There have always been two different channels of communication between the races, the “business” channel and the “personal” channel.
The business channel is used when there are people of all races present, e.g., in business settings, or in public, media, or written communications. This channel for whites traditionally ignored black sensibilities entirely. It seems justified to say that there has been improvement in this channel. As black concerns have become better known to whites, these conversations have become more “politically correct”. Certain terms, such as, “nigger”, and “whitey”, and many others are now rarely used in polite society.
By Lawrence J. Fedewa, May 12, 2018
Pope Francis I released his third papal letter on April 9, 2018. (dated March 19, 2018). Its cheerful title in English means “Rejoice and be glad”. American reactions have been mixed, more or less along predictable lines. That is, his conservative critics found his view of contemporary holiness too flexible and too elastic; and the “official” Catholics thought it was just great. This reader found it to be too long, too confusing, and, unfortunately, largely irrelevant.
This is unfortunate because religion in general and Christianity as an institution sorely needs an interpretation of its beliefs and its morality which demonstrates not only its relevance but its importance to modern life and to the unavoidable decisions we all must make.
During the early days of his papacy, Francis I appeared to many as the messenger sent from God to help us through these troubled times. His personal charisma, his humble demeanor and his wit and charm were much on display during his historic visit to the United States in 2015 and he gained a great following.
Luckily, few of those millions of admirers will read this 12,000-word exhortation, and the images he created during that visit will remain their view of him. Among the more curious followers of his papacy, however, he has become very controversial. The basis for these reactions tends to be his writings rather than his actions, such as his visits to Israel, Palestine, and many other lands. This document illustrates some of the common objections to his teachings.