20 August 2009

Take a Copy of the Constitution and Call Me in the Morning

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent"
- Thomas Jefferson


I would like to continue the healthcare conversation. Let’s talk about why it is such a contentious issue. Why does the left wants this bill passed so badly? Let’s look at what they want and follow the roots back to the tree. Most importantly, I will leave a few common sense reform solutions that I think would be more effective than a $1trillion boondoggle. Let’s look to my favorite source first of all. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Healthcare is not a right, nor does the federal government have the enumerated power to control it.

Trust me I am from the government

First of all let me ask you this: Do you trust the government? I hope the answer is no. As Americans it should be in our DNA to have a healthy skepticism and disdain of government. That is how the Founders looked at government. They saw it as “a necessary evil”. That must be our attitude if we are to be free. Why is the healthcare debate turning into such a shouting match? It is a liberty issue. Most American people do not trust the government. They do not trust Obama. They do not trust Congress. Nor should they trust them. We have been burned badly over the years by the flames of an out of control government inferno scorching everything in its path. The governmental assault on our liberties has manifested itself in ways too numerous to mention here. That would be another post entirely that I may write later.
More to the point, people are genuinely concerned about the direction of our country. They see freedom slipping away with each and every bailout and new faceless government entity being created. The bureaucratic nightmare that is the federal government is not something most Americans want having any measure of control over their healthcare decisions. The legislation being debated will put about 31 either new or existing agencies in charge of those decisions. That is why we have seen such passionate debate on this issue. That is why thousands of people who have never protested anything in their life are showing up at townhall meetings and tea parties across the country. People are beginning to wake up to the fact that their government has perpetrated a tyranny of incompetence upon the American people for many years now. It has continued and accelerated in the last 8 months. For the first time many are seeing the seeds of a soft tyranny being planted. They finally realize that no politician, democrat or republican, really has their best interests at heart.
Washington, DC is a bubble. The political elite in this country are getting too isolated from the people and the concerns of regular Americans. Therefore they are surprised at the level of passion and disapproval they are facing at these townhall meetings. So naturally the politicians, including the Speaker of the House, attack the protestors and call them “Astroturf”, “Nazis”, “angry white racists”, and “un-American”. Not only are these disparaging remarks wholly inaccurate, they are also hateful. The political class has targeted regular Americans simply for expressing their opinions and passionately voicing their concerns about healthcare. At least in my life time this is an unprecedented and scary development. To top it all off we have certain politicians calling out an army of union thugs to pack the townhall meetings with supporters and to intimidate the Americans who are showing up to protest the Obamacare “hellthcare” bill. It has led to violence, including the recent townhall in St. Louis where a black conservative activist was assaulted by a group of SEIU union goons outside after the event had ended. Once violence has entered the debate it is difficult to seek out the heart of the argument. That is exactly what Obama and his cronies are counting on. They know if they can isolate and ridicule the opposition and then sensationalize and marginalize the townhalls then we won’t be talking about his healthcare reform bill.

Hurry let’s do this now before we think about it!

Why the rush by the way? Why did Obama try so hard to urge Congress to pass this bill before summer recess? It is because he knew that the American people would find out what his plan is intended to do, and he knew the American people would rise up and oppose it. And they have. Clearly he did not anticipate this level of opposition, but he knew that Congress would receive and earful from their constituents when they returned home for the summer. So, as with the stimulus, cap and trade, and the previous administration’s TARP from last year, Congress and this administration has tried to ram this healthcare bill down our throats. They said: Don’t read it. Sit down. Shut up, the debate is over. We were told “we have to do this right now or the world will explode!” Remember, “Never let a crisis go to waste”. Manufactured crisis is the ultimate destroyer of liberty. Our government is manufacturing crisis after crisis, or simply taking advantage of a real crisis, in order to usurp the Constitution and create a permanent class of political elitism to rule over us “little people”. They are building an oligarchy. Healthcare reform is a means to an end.

What is it really about?

Power: That is why the left wants this healthcare reform bill now. That is why they have fought for some degree of socialized medicine for over 50 years. The progressive movement is all about political and “expert” elites determining what is “best” for every American and implementing their policy solutions regardless of Constitutionality or the concerns of the citizens. In Britain there are over 1 million people working for their national health services. The overwhelming majority are bureaucrats. They represent a huge voting block of people dependent on the government for their livelihood. Never mind the millions more who are dependent on the State for their medical care. That makes any attempt to repair or reform Britain’s poor quality and inefficient medical system impossible. The American left knows that we are a center-right society. Always have been, it is how our Founders wanted it. They also know that the quickest way to ensure a leftist majority in government is to seize control of healthcare, which also happens to represent around 17% of our economy. So you see this “reform” is really about seizing control of the vital elements of our nation.
So here we are looking a $1trillion healthcare reform bill that is over 1,000 pages long. Most people have not read it. Most in Congress have not read it, and nor will they. Some will debate the contents of this bill. They will pull obscure lines and say it does this and not that. I have scoured the bill for hours and every time I come away very satisfied that it is full of crap. Naturally it is written in a very innocuous way. Nothing on its face is too scary. You must follow its contents to the natural conclusion. The federal government is putting money into the healthcare system to set up some kind of insurance exchange system. Whatever the government funds, it controls. We will soon find the government co-opting more power than intended with ambiguously worded regulation and legal definitions. Never mind the 1,000 bill, if passed it will spawn thousands of pages of regulatory codes. What the government touches, it corrupts. If we let them even tepidly control any aspect of our healthcare, we do so at great peril. At any rate it does not matter what the current legislation being debated contains. It is irrelevant. Congress will simply attach hundreds of pages of amendments to the bill in the waning hours of debate and demand it be voted on before the amendments are read or analyzed. We have already seen this happen in much of the legislation Congress has passed in the last 8 months.

So what’s their plan?

Despite the objections of Obama and the “hellthcare” reform bill supporters, this is about socializing our healthcare system. This is not a violent government takeover of our healthcare system. This is the proverbial “foot in the door.” The statists know that they cannot force through a complete overhaul and seize control of our entire healthcare infrastructure overnight. That would lead to outright rebellion in this country. This will take place incrementally over several years, just as Obama envisioned, as he said in remarks that can be viewed on YouTube. He is a proponent of single-payer, universal socialized healthcare. So too are the leftist leaders of Congress. For reasons I have already stated, the left wants this badly. They are patient and willing to wait while the government healthcare embryo Obama is trying to plant can grow. There can be no doubt from reading the legislation that the whole intent of the taxes and regulation within are intended to end private health insurance and create dependence on a government run program. Hence the passages regarding the insurance exchange that indicate that all insurers will be subject to the same regulations as the public option within a set number of years. The government will regulate healthcare. That is the logical end result of this legislation.
People have screamed until blue in the face that Obama’s plan will not ration care. The laws of supply and demand state otherwise. All resources are scarce, including healthcare. If we throw 47 million Americans, or whatever he claims the number of uninsured is, into the system it will increase demand. Thus, it will increase prices. Therefore to lowers costs, as Obama has promised, rationing will inevitably occur. We do not spend money on healthy people. Healthcare goes primarily to care for the sick. Naturally many of those who are ill are also very often elderly. The only way to reduce costs is to reduce the treatments allowed for the sick and the elderly. It happens every day in Britain and Canada, and it will happen here if Obama gets his way. My family doctor is from Canada. He moved here to escape the Canadian healthcare system. He has looked at the proposed reform and is terrified. The very thing he tried to escape has found him here. He has brought numerous family members from Canada here for treatment. Where are Canadians going to go for hip replacement surgery if Obamacare passes? In all seriousness though, healthcare will be rationed under Obama’s plan. AARP is bleeding members right now because of the “death panels” we were told did not exist. Then the Senate announced that they were removing the death panels from the bill. Figure that one out.

The Solutions

It would not be right of me to oppose something like healthcare reform without proposing some common sense solutions. First of all there is a role government can play in reform. It must be, however, extremely limited in power and scope. The influence of government should be like a referee. It should make sure people play by the rules, but it cannot be allowed to dictate market conditions and impose artificial price controls. It also cannot be allowed to manipulate the structure or direct the healthcare of our citizens. Nothing about government is compatible with actually providing healthcare to people. Just look at the horrific examples of eugenics and fascism in the 20th century. More recently just look at the modern day horror stories of the socialist healthcare dystopias in Canada or Britain. When all is said and done government is almost always the problem, not the solution. To determine how to fix a problem we should define it.
Our current healthcare system is the best in the world based on any honest evaluation. By far we provide the highest quality care and America is the engine of medical innovation. So it is not at all a question of quality. Our medical care delivery system is inefficient, and therefore expensive. Consumers and doctors have no incentive to hold down costs and insurance companies are forced to increase premiums. Due in large part to government interference, there is a lack of competition in the medical insurance marketplace. What’s the solution? First of all increase competition by letting insurance companies sell across state lines. That has been holding back market corrections. We also need long term insurance contracts to prevent people with preexisting conditions from being denied coverage. Sell it like term life insurance and make 20 year health insurance plans rather than doing this year to year. There is ample ground that could be covered in the realm of insurance reform. If we could introduce more natural market competition health insurance could be as inexpensive as car insurance. Let’s get the government out of the way and undo the damage it has already done. That is how we can reform healthcare insurance.
Doctors face thousands of frivolous lawsuits every year. As a result privately practicing doctors, hospitals, and medical clinics are forced to purchase very expensive insurance to protect them from such lawsuits. Paying high priced lawyers to fight these suits and then paying out of pocket to settle such frivolous claims are also seriously crippling a doctor’s ability to treat patients efficiently. The left loves to complain about doctors administering too many tests on patients. Doctors do this out of fear that they might miss something and then get sued for not catching it. It is called “defensive medicine” and that is what drives up costs. End the frivolous lawsuits against medical professionals. Instituting serious tort reform must be part of the healthcare reform conversation. Frivolous lawsuits cost us about $1000 per person in America every year. Loser should pay court costs. Lawyers repeatedly bringing frivolous lawsuits into the legal system should be disbarred.
Hospitals along our southern border are struggling under the weight of rampant illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants show up in emergency rooms by the thousands every year in these states. Some hospitals have had to close their doors forever. Illegal immigration is costing our healthcare system about $11billion annually. Another issue most people will not touch is the medical dangers illegal immigrants bring to America. Typhoid, tuberculosis, and various other diseases and parasites are ravaging border regions and working their way north as more illegal immigrants flow in from third world cesspools. The full cost of illegal immigration to the healthcare system is unfathomable. It is difficult to estimate all of the impact. Bottom line is that border security and immigration reform must also be a part of any serious discussion on healthcare reform.
Doctors are generally considered to be among the “hated rich”, also known as the left’s favorite target. Doctors should be allowed to write off free medical services provided as a tax deduction. That would encourage a greater level of charity and people would receive care that they otherwise could not afford. Along the same lines, every medical school should be given funding to open up free medical clinics. The clinics will be staffed with med students who can work to have some of their college loans paid for. It’s really important to have the tort reform first before trying this one. Maybe patients could sign a waiver? But I digress. Finally, the doctor based reform ideas continue with giving physicians the option to refuse all insurance and instead collect a flat rate from all patients. A doctor in New York tried this, but the State would not allow it. He spent most of his money and time complying with government and insurance company red tape. He wanted to just refuse all of it and offer his services for a flat fee. He was going to charge only $79 a month and all of his patients could come in and could see him as many times as they wanted. Of course the State could not allow this to happen because it would undermine the government’s insistence that only the government can solve this problem.
Health savings accounts are absolutely a key to solving this problem. Let people put some of their money away tax free for medical expenses. Let’s start one right now for every American family. Only about 10% of the “stimulus plan” has been spent. Let’s cancel the mindless government waste and pork project spending. That gives us about $700billion right there. There is an additional $70billion in TARP loan repayments sitting in the coffers. How about we take that approximately $770billion dollars and give it to the American people as a health spending account. We could give every tax paying household about $8,000 but it could be allocated based on need and in any sum that is deemed appropriate. Put people in charge of their medical expenses and decisions. It will encourage more thoughtful consumption.

Bottom line

There is a long list of failed government programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Post Office, and Amtrak- all bankrupt. That’s just to name a few. The government cannot run anything efficiently. The government cannot lower costs. When was the last time any project or piece of legislation came in under budget or cost the expected amount? There are numerous free market solutions to this problem. I have touched on a few ideas that I have come across in my conversations with others. There are better, more targeted ways to help people receive medical coverage and to reduce costs than opening up the “Pandora’s Box” of governmental interference. If it was really about getting people covered and lowering costs then the bill would not be 1,000 pages long and they would not have tried to force this through so fast. This debate is about liberty. It is about freedom. We are a Republic. Our government is to be limited in power and reach. If allowed to usurp the Constitution and once again establish dangerous new federal power over the lives of every American we will one day see the rise of totalitarianism in our nation. We are not immune to the laws of reason, the laws of logic, or the laws of economics. We are not immune to history. Know your history and you will know your future. Many have tread down this dark path. It has never ended well. We must not make the same mistakes.

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”–James Madison