Health Care: Not a Right

June 24, 2009

As the debate over health reform intensifies, expect lawmakers to muddy the waters by declaring health care a fundamental “right”.  If health care is a “right” then lawmakers will be able to argue that it is necessarily mandated by law—thus opening the door for universal government health care.

Health care, in America, is not actually an explicit right afforded to the general population.  The “right” to health care appears in only one place in America’s governing documents, including the Bill of Rights.  Under Amendment VIII, health care must be provided to federal prisoners.  The creators of our government believed withholding care from the miscreants of our penal system constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

It is fitting that government health care is only provided to prisoners.  If health reform of the current vein is allowed to pass, Americans will find themselves prisoners to an inadequate health system.  Americans will soon find that they have no rights and no choices—just like prisoners.

Government health care plans are “effective” because they monopolize purchasing power and generalize services.  In other words, they force participants to accept common generic services, and achieve savings through quantity and price controls.

In order to achieve the savings politicians crave, the government will need to be able to purchase services en masse.  This in turn requires that as many people as possible participate in the federal program.  Since no private insurer or service provider will be able to compete with the massive purchasing power of the government,  the private health industry will inevitably crumble and the socialization of American health care will be complete.

If this progression seems inevitable, that’s because it is.  However, it is not the only choice available.  Many critics believe that the free-market approach to health care has failed.  That assumption is categorically incorrect.  The U.S. health system is plagued by numerous bureaucratic hurdles and regulations which automatically remove the term “free” from the health care market.  Repealing regulations, shifting the responsibility for care to the states and the individual, and pursuing information technologies which can educate the consumer may provide a cost-effective solution, and render government care unnecessary.

Once the government assumes control of an industry it is notoriously difficult to roll-back the infectious meddling of the federal bureaucracy.  While the government has the power of guns and laws on its side, the citizen has the increasingly potent power of voice.

Americans have the unique ability to buy the services they need, and the services they are able to afford—it is this aspect of American health care which draws foreign dignitaries and celebrities to American clinics, and distinguishes our system from the socialized forms of medicine found in Europe and elsewhere.

Health care is not generic; there is no set group of services for every man, woman, and child.  The right to choice is fundamental to America’s adherence to the principle of liberty.  American citizens have the liberty to pay and choose services that fit their own lifestyles, not those of their neighbors.  As the health care debate moves forward, Americans should remember that the Constitution was drafted to protect citizens against tyranny—tyranny of majority or minority, and the accumulation of power in any given entity.

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Definitive Statements

June 19, 2009

Barack Obama has stayed suspiciously silent concerning the controversial Iranian presidential elections.  Mr. Obama has managed to say that he is troubled by the situation and that Iran must determine its own leaders.

I would say to Mr. Obama that leaders lead.  A leader does not wait for an outcome to become obvious.  While  Obama does not have to support the opposition candidate, he should indicate his support for an investigation and his support of democracy.  By failing to insert himself in the dialogue he has guaranteed that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is reelected.  This may be his point; I am not privy to the strategy of the State Department.  However, more often than not,  silence is a sign of weakness.

It will be interesting to see how this situation resolves itself.


The Tyranny of Averages

June 19, 2009

I recently had a friend graduate from a high school in North Carolina.  Though she was an outstanding and involved student, when it came time to graduate, the administrators of her school imposed a rule limiting graduates to two cords only.  Their rationale?  They did not want to injure the self confidence of those who did not receive honor cords by allowing others to wear several.

This is the epitome of the tyranny of averages.  My friend was a student who had made it her business to distinguish herself from her peers in the most admirable way; she worked hard to achieve outstanding grades and deserved an outstanding recognition at graduation.

During the ceremony, the principal asked students who had earned certain designations to stand and be recognized. These included achieving a top-30 class rank, membership in the school’s service society, and being a district scholar, among other distinctions. My friend stood for all but one of these awards.  Though the principal recognized these students in front of the school, it was a poor substitute for the quiet and individualized honor that comes with wearing hard-earned graduation cords. The recognition portion of the graduation program was more an exercise in how well students could stand up and sit down without losing their balance.

The administration wanted to protect the feelings of those students without cords.  But at whose expense? A generic round of applause is a fleeting thing, especially when it is not directed at you specifically…you can’t take it home or display it, or pose for pictures with it. People looking at you in a crowd won’t know you’ve just received a great round of applause.  The pride of higher achieving students was compromised when the administration limited them to two cords.  They strove for excellence, and they were rewarded with a pat on the head by the school.

This may seem like a trivial issue, but what is most disturbing here is the underlying mentality that facilitates these kinds of administrative decisions.  What type of precedent does it  set? Should we be telling future generations, “It’s okay if you make Cs on your report card, because you are going to get the same recognition and public respect as the kids who make As”?

This standard is dangerous because it allows sub-par performance to share the stage with greatness.  It is standards of this vein that drive our society.  There are no losers, there are only people who did their best.  It is a slippery slope towards chronic under-performance. If excellence is not rewarded, what is the motivation for performance?  If everybody feels that they have a right to get their  “fair share” of recognition where does this attitude end?

My friend, at the behest of her mother and sister, ended up graduating wearing three cords–one more than the permitted two. Her third cord belonged to her older sister, who had graduated from high school three years prior and had been allowed to wear as many cords as she could earn.  Several students approached my friend in a tizzy as they lined up for processional, demanding to know how she got a third cord.  She told them, and they calmed down. A teacher approached her and asked if she was supposed to be wearing the cord.

“No…” she truthfully replied.
“Well, what are you going to do with it?” asked the teacher.
“Wear it,” my friend said firmly.
“Okay,” said the teacher, and walked away.

So the moral of the story is that it’s wrong to belittle outstanding achievements in the name of maintaining equality.  People just want to be recognized for their value. For most, recognition is not a vanity to be flaunted, or disrupt the order of things.  Instead, recognition is their badge of honor, the reward for their efforts.  They want to wear it quietly, and let others take it for what it’s worth.


Obama Care: A Breakdown of the Savings

June 15, 2009

Barack Obama has begun “outlining” his health care reform plan ahead of what many Washington insiders see as a messy health care fight this summer.

The Obama administration claims to have found $950 Billion dollars in savings over 10 years which will pay for health care reform. Six-hundred billion in “savings” will come from increasing taxes on those making $250,000 a year, closing tax loop-holes, and increasing government service fees.

This savings plan is flawed because A) $250,000 is not actually that much and B)  as Americans saw during the election, many of those who make $250,000 are small business owners.  Obama has promised to tax business owners who do not provide the type of health insurance the Government wants.  The outcome?  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t–either way you will be taxed.  This plan will be particularly detrimental to small businesses.

$313 billion in “savings” will come from reducing payments to hospitals, medical equipment manufactureres, and laboratories.  These entities will have to make due with the restricted funds doled out by the government.

$110 billion in “savings” will come from efficiency improvements.  I am curious how hospitals and health providers are going to be come more efficient when funding for laboratory research is going to be cut.

$106 billion will come from reducing “disproportionate share payments” which are the payments the government makes to hospitals with large numbers of uninsured.  This portion of savings is particularly skewed since those who are uninsured disproportionately use more services because they are low-income high-risk patients.  Providing them with government insurance will not necessarily reduce the cost of treating them.

In Obama’s Weekly Address he stresses that health reform will keep American firms competitive and reduce “yawning” budget deficits.  A government-run health plan will provide neither of these outcomes.  Firms will remain at a competitve disadvantage because taxes will rise to fund the government program, and deficits do not seem to concern the Obama administration, nor will they be reigned in unless the government inserts itself in the market to control prices.

Health care reform is necessary.  Individuals need to become responsible for their health care, and businesses need to be disassociated from the health care market.  One option in particular provides both of these features; Health Savings Accounts.  There is no part of the constitution which says the government has a role in providing health care. The Obama administration would serve the public well if it considered all the options–free-market measures included.


Nancy-Ann DeParle: Health Care Lobbyist

June 13, 2009

Obama Health Care Czar Deparle paid $5.8 million by Health Care firms.

Appointed by Obama, DeParle represents just the type of insider Obama said would not be included in his government.  She has yet to excuse herself from matters which will affect her former firms.


Talk it out!

June 13, 2009

In the face of new UN sanctions imposed after weeks of renewed belligerence, North Korea is threatening to “weaponize” its plutonium.

I wish Obama would just talk to them already!  Remember?  Obama promised unilateral negotiations without preconditions during the election as a solution to Iran’s belligerence.  Well, what about North Korea?  Lets talk it out!


Cash for Clunkers

June 12, 2009

I’m curious about how this bill is going to save the US auto industry–The Big Three that is.   After all, it is foreign owned companies that are producing the most fuel efficient cars–Honda, Toyota, etc.

Additionally, the bill does not allow people to trade in cars that are older than 25 years, cars which use the most fuel.

The fact that “efficiency” must be subsidized through the government ominously indicates that the fuel-efficiency is not a driving factor in new car purchases.  Products should not need government subsidies; the quality of a product should speak for itself.