Saturday, August 22, 2009

Obama is a master Magician!

Imagine this scene: You’re attending a party. Suddenly, you notice a large, dumb-looking donkey standing in the corner of a large room that is otherwise crowded with noisy, human party goers. You attempt to ask several others what it’s doing there, but they all look at you as if you’re some kind of idiot and pretend that they do not see it.

On this very subject, I cannot do better than the excellent set of observations in the article below from the great mind of Thomas Sowell — just one of many!

Stop and Think
By Thomas Sowell
The mindset behind Obamacare seeks to create a new America.

The serious, and sometimes chilling, provisions of the medical-care legislation that President Obama has been trying to rush through Congress are important enough for all of us to stop and think, even though his political strategy from the outset has been to prevent us from having time to stop and think about it.

What we also should stop to think about is the mindset behind this legislation, which is very consistent with the mindset behind other policies of this administration, whether the particular issue is bailing out General Motors, telling banks whom to lend to, or appointing “czars” to tell all sorts of people in many walks of life what they can and cannot do.

The idea that government officials can play God from Washington is not a new idea, but it is an idea that is being pushed with new audacity.

What they are trying to do is to create an America very unlike the America that has existed for centuries — the America that people have been attracted to by the millions from every part of the world, the America that many generations of Americans have fought and died for.

This is the America about which Michelle Obama expressed her resentment before it became politically expedient to keep quiet.

It is the America that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright denounced in his sermons during the 20 years when Barack Obama was his parishioner, before political expediency required Obama to withdraw and distance himself.

The thing most associated with America — freedom — is precisely what must be destroyed if this is to be turned into a fundamentally different country to suit Obama’s vision of the country and of himself. But do not expect a savvy politician like Barack Obama to express what he is doing in terms of limiting our freedom.

He may not even think of it in those terms. He may think of it in terms of promoting “social justice” or making better decisions than ordinary people are capable of making for themselves, whether about medical care or housing or many other things. Throughout history, egalitarians have been among the most arrogant people.

Obama has surrounded himself with people who also think it is their job to make other people’s decisions for them. Not just Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, his health-care advisor who complains of Americans’ “over-utilization” of medical care, but also Prof. Cass Sunstein, who has written a whole book on how third parties should use government power to “nudge” people into making better decisions in general.

Then there are a whole array of Obama administration officials who take it as their job to pick winners and losers in the economy and tell companies how much they can and cannot pay their executives.
Just as magicians know that the secret of some of their tricks is to distract the audience, so politicians know that the secret of many political tricks is to distract the public with scapegoats.
No one is more of a political magician than Barack Obama. At the beginning of 2008, no one expected a shrewd and experienced politician like Hillary Clinton to be beaten for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States by someone completely new to the national political scene. But Obama worked his political magic, with the help of the media, which he still has.

Barack Obama’s escapes from his own past words, deeds, and associations have been escapes worthy of Houdini.  Like other magicians, Obama has chosen his distractions well. The insurance industry is currently his favorite distraction as scapegoat, after he tried to demonize doctors without much success.

Saints are no more common in the insurance industry than in politics or even among paragons of virtue like economists. So there will always be horror stories, even if these are less numerous or less horrible than what is likely to happen if Obamacare gets passed into law.

Obama even gets away with saying things such as that we need a system to “keep insurance companies honest” — and many people may not see the painful irony in politicians trying to keep other people honest. Certainly most of the media are unlikely to point out this irony.

For discussion: How is this article relevant to the goal of this blog? Simple: Virtually all of the problems described in Mr. Sowell’s article, have their roots firmly planted in the toxic soil of organized, calculated intellectual dishonesty!

Disagree? More to add? Please write a comment because all views are important for public discourse.
Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Collectivist camel is almost entirely inside the tent. What a lovely aroma!

First, the obvious: Healthcare is a very important issue for all of us not only because we all need it, but because it poses some of the most critical moral issues that humans ever have or ever will face. I urge you, dear reader, to offer your own comments to this article, especially if you disagree with all or part of it. In any case, thank you for reading.

We have arrived at a point that was predicted and feared by many of us in the Boomer generation. In mounting horror, we watched as Leftist forces dominated our young adult ideas about social policy. These same forces then propelled us toward the quagmire in which we all now struggle.

America’s political power structure is now dominated by members of a generation that once proudly insisted: “Never trust anyone over thirty.” Thanks largely to this nonsense, we now live in a time when historical ignorance is greater and more destructive than at any time in at least the last two centuries! Indeed, the objective study of history, may well be the most important of all intellectual pursuits because it is the only way we can understand how we arrived where we are today and how to avoid mistakes of the past. Please believe me — over the last 7000 years or so, just about every mistake that can be made has already been made many times, all too often at great human cost. Yet, most people today who are thirty or younger, received almost zero inspiration to study history from the comical, diabolically warped institutions we now refer to as “public education”. What little history they were exposed to in that doctrinaire venue was delivered in support of a revisionist, Leftist political agenda. In other words, self-serving lies!

Our immediate, larger than normal struggle over nationalizing one-fifth of the US economy simply because 45 million out of 300 million Americans have no health insurance is significantly driven by our deliberately distorted knowledge of our own national history. BTW, that forty-five million of us are not without heath CARE, they just don’t have health INSURANCE! One-third of the people without health insurance earn $75,000 or more per year and many of these are young enough that they feel no need to pay for health insurance! In a free country, that is their choice! Many of these people simply save a portion of their earnings (created wealth) as a medical emergency fund. Gee! What a concept!

Please note the article below from one of the most innovative people alive today, John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods Market, Inc. His is the kind of mind that Ayn Rand modeled as a wealth creator in “Atlas Shrugged” — the kind of mind that is routinely enslaved by Collectivism’s envious barbarians!

[My comments inserted]

The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.

"The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." —Margaret Thatcher

[Side lament: Oh the great Maggie Thatcher! Where are these kinds of leaders today!]

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people's money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us. [BOTH!]

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight [9...?] reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:
  1. Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees' Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.
  2. Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan's costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.
  3. Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair. [Not to mention objectively immoral!]
  4. Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.
  5. Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.
  6. Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care. [The number one obstacle to Tort Reform is the tangled web of back-room influence from various, well funded attorney groups who prowl the halls of power and stalk our representatives like toxic parasites. The single most effective Tort Law change needed is to make the loser in any law suit pay all legal expenses for the winner.  Almost overnight, this single change will eliminate most of the nuisance law suits that artificially increase the cost of health care.  I have not yet heard a rational argument against this idea.  The fact that it has not yet happened, or that it should ever be needed, are extremely susspicious.  It exudes the awful stench of back room deals that benefit of people who did nothing to earn secret rules, except to open their wallets.]
  7. Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor's visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?
  8. Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility. [The arch-enemy of Leftist ideology: real freedom for individuals].
  9. Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

Health care is a service [not a Right!] that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America. [... or anywhere else for that matter.  The legitimacy of any Right can be objectively determined, but that's a different discussion.]

Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments. [... regardless of medical urgency!]

Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor's Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.

At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from [or even knowledge of] their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an "intrinsic right to health care"? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.— or in any other country. [Again, as above, because human beings cannot create legitimate Rights.  True Rights are discovered, much like we discovered the laws of Physics. The existence of a legitimate individual Right can be confirmed as certainly the speed of light!]

Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices. 

Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

[The key moral question here is: If person A makes wiser lifestyle and behavior choices than person B, then how is it morally valid to force person A to pay for person B's health care — to any degree? All answers welcome.

To this I must add: Because of our widespread ignorance of history, most people today do not know how we originally got started down the road of health insurance being provided by employers as opposed to everyone purchasing their own health insurance. This method allows their insurance to move with them from employer to employer. Any employer is free to subsidize employee premium payments. We were denied this kind of system by another example of Socialism poisoning the economy: During WWII, the U.S. Federal government (immorally) imposed price and wage controls, allegedly to make funding the war effort easier. Since employers could no longer use wages to attract the most skilled employees, they started offering “benefits”, just one of which was health insurance. Then, as they say, “the rest is history.”]