Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Advancing America to the Rear

Only by Turning Around and marching toward the rear can we Americans sustain an illusion of ourselves as the most-advanced nation. For some people, an illusion of leading is more important than progress. As of this today, with the signing of healthcare reform, into law, those Americans are momentarily held at bay.

Let the Republican Party
keep putting all of its creative energy into derailing and repealing this important change. The rest of us don’t have that luxury: we need to keep moving forward.

Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan defined government as the problem, not the solution. That’s like complaining that air is often polluted, so we shouldn’t breathe it. We have no real choice about whether to breathe the air, or whether to have government.

And So While the Republicans
prefer to keep fighting against government rather than improving it for all of the people government serves, the Democratic Party keeps working at making the government “of the people” and “by the people” do a better job of serving the necessities “of the people.”

Throughout the Course of the healthcare-reform debate, the Republicans have insisted that they believe in reform, yes, too, but: We need to take it slow. We need to start over. We need to go step-by-step. Etc.

Now, the Majority in Congress has managed to pass reform—through the ugly political process by which all difficult change is made. And the best thing for the Republican Party to do, to be true to its word throughout the process, would be to get to work with the majority in Congress, making healthcare-reform work better for all of us.

Instead, State Attorneys GeneralRepublican attorneys general—are initiating a lawsuit to block the bill. Republicans in Congress say that they will fight to repeal the bill.

Was There Ever Any Truth behind their “we believe in healthcare reform, too” and.....whatever else they said in their festival of denial? Show us some evidence.

Government Is an Inefficient and messy process of compromise. Nobody really likes it. But some of us have to be more mature about how we deal with it. Just as in any family, the adults of the American populace cannot afford to spend their time throwing tantrums. There is much more work to be done.

The Republicans Continue to assert that compromise is not an option for them. Fortunately for us, they have some good ideas that have been included in the new law. Fortunately for us, the Democrats seem to take it all seriously, trying to make the best law they can get for the American people.

Meanwhile, the Republicans moan and shout. They initiate law suits and vow to repeal. The new law moves us forward. While the Republicans throughout government insist on turning around and marching backwards. Continuing a thirty-year effort to lead the United States as “the most advanced nation” in the world—marching loudly and proudly to the rear.


Monday, March 15, 2010

What Is a “Right”? Is the Left “Wrong” about Healthcare?

Every Time We Hear That “Healthcare Is a Right,” it pushes our buttons. But then we remind ourselves to review this “rights” concept. The real question—which we Americans have never fully addressed—is “What constitutes a ‘right’?”

Here’s How Rousseau Poses the Question in the opening passages of his book, The Social Contract:
“The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.”

Rousseau’s Definition of the Problem divides the concept of “right” into two parts. The latter part—described as permitting each person to “still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before”—is what the Founding Fathers intended by their term, “unalienable rights.

These Are Rights Which Cannot Be Granted; they can only be withheld or denied.

But Rousseau’s Former Part—“to defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate”“—is what James Madison labeled a “social right.

When People Make the Entitlement-sounding Claim that “healthcare is a right,” this is the sort of a “right” that they mean.

The Most-striking Facet of the Right/left Political Divide in the U.S. is between (R) those who believe that our nation’s greatness rests on defending the “unalienable rights” while minimizing the “social rights” and (L) those who believe that our nation’s greatness combines the best of both kinds of rights.

The Left Wants to Expand the American Social Contract so as to include as many citizens as possible within the level playing field of opportunity.

The Right, Believing That America Inherently Provides a level playing field, wants merely to keep government small, and to limit the complications of the social contract.

Both Sides Have Validity. The discussion on “rights,” here in America, is long-overdue.

The Reason for the “Coffee Party” Approach—rather than the “Tea Party” approach—is that one side would rather work together to solve our problems, while the other side is prepared to use force (Louder voices. Financial advantage. Fear tactics. Foreign invasions, if necessary. Etc.) in order to prevail.

May the Best Nation Win!
Here Are Two Relevant Links:


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why It Makes Economic Sense to Pass Healthcare Reform Now

ChannelingBarackObama Has Posted an Argument supporting the economic sense of passing healthcare reform now, right at this difficult economic time. I encourage everyone on both sides of the issue to read the post.

People on Both Sides of the Issue shout so loud, and repeat their talking points so much, hardly any real debate is taking place. The Democratic side ignores the relationship between healthcare costs and the Federal deficit. The Republican side ignores the desperate necessity for reform as soon as possible, with the need brought on by a combination of a failed competitive environment for the insurance industry and Republican refusal to fund the costs of government.

Whether America Needs to shrink government and increase individual responsibility somehow, or to expand and pay for government in consideration of changes to business scale between the 18th and 21st centuries, what America needs is to talk about the issue and the challenges. Ideology alone cannot answer the question, of “nanny state” government or the Libertarian model. We need to put “ideology aside,” to educate ourselves, and to work this thing out.

But in the Mean Time, people and the economy are drowning out here. The longer we delay, the deeper we sink.

Here’s the Link to a Pretty Good Economic Argument:

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Newton's Fourth Law

If We Are Controlled Entirely by Our Fears, we will never do anything. Because every action is subject to Newton’s Third Law of “equal-and-opposite-reaction,” and every major change to a complex system is subject to the so-called “Law of Unintended Consequences.”

Because Every Liberal or Progressive Move Forward generates a Conservative or Republican reaction, the political Right are generally considered “reactionary.” This concept comes from Newton’s law.

The Human Urge to Do Nothing reflects the fears of these two, unrelated laws. And yet, sometimes we can’t afford to do nothing. Sometimes, we just have to do something.

Despite the Flaws and Unintended Consequences that will surely come from the current bill, these things can be fixed. American ingenuity and invention knows no bounds, and we will be able to make this better. We will be able to limit the ways that government controls our healthcare—but we are virtually powerless to limit the way that our insurance company controls our care.

If the Bill Is Scrapped, the determination and drive to get it done will have been wasted.

If the Bill Is Passed, Newton’s First Law
will kick in: a healthcare reform law in motion will tend to remain in motion.

The Determination and Drive of the American People to fix the thing will give us no choice but to move quickly and earnestly to make it right.

America Has No Constructive Choice but to Pass the Bill, get it started, and then get to work on making it better and better. When an object can’t go back and can’t stay put, it has not choice but to go forward.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Unalienable Rights or Social Rights?

Those of Us Who Oppose Government Benefits as “rights” believe that only “unalienable rights” should be the provenance of government.

Because Services Such as “National Defense” and “universal healthcare” can be taken away or withheld by government, these cannot be unalienable “rights” in the sense that those of us—generally considered “conservative”—think of rights. Thus, Conservatives oppose any form of national healthcare.

Founding Father James Madison Believed in what he called “social rights.” Many of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights constitute social rights.

Those of Us Who Support a Social “Right” to universal healthcare and national defense—generally considered “liberal”—use the term in the Madisonian sense. Liberals believe that the social contract includes national healthcare. This is what they mean when they say that national healthcare is a right.

Both of These Positions Have Validity. Our national discussion—including the healthcare debate—might go better, and the government might get more done, if we addressed the topic directly, instead of trying to redefine “rights” on a continual ad hoc basis—to suit our various political agendas.

But Then, “Outrage Is Easy,” as the saying goes. It’s easier to shout out our anger and frustration, while learning little about economics and politics, than to study it directly ourselves, or to trust our elected representatives to get the job done well.


Friday, March 5, 2010

The Facts of History Paint Such a Different Picture

The Facts of History Paint a Different Picture of the Conservative-vs-Liberal struggle than the one that comes out of the mouths and pens of most Republicans and other self-styled “fiscal conservatives.”

Looking Back as Far as President Jimmy Carter, the presidencies that have given us the biggest deficits by far have been Republicans. Ronald Reagan gave America the biggest up to that time, until the past years of George W. Bush dwarfed even that.

Liberals Believe in Government Doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves—national defense, pensions (Social Security) destroyed by Republican excesses of the Coolidge/Hoover years, health care (Medicare) destroyed by the Great Recession of recent times.

But Liberals, Unlike Conservatives, 
Expect to Pay Their Own Way.
Americans overall pay the least in taxes of any industrialized nation. Yet historically, it is the “spend and spend” Republicans who balloon the debt—from President Reagan’s “Star Wars” to George W. Bush’s two unfunded wars and an unfunded Medicare program with a big “donut hole.” And then Republicans blame the Democrats—such as Barack Obama—for the lengths we must go to, to clean up the disastrous mess.

What a Republican Set-up of the Democrats! What a shame that it’s the American people—unemployed and now without health insurance—who have to carry that weight.

Republicans Want to Bring the Federal Government to its Knees, so that the Democrats will be forced to cut popular programs—loved by Conservatives and Liberals alike—that the Republicans lack the courage to cut themselves

Why Else Was That Side of the Political Divide so silent over the George W. Bush years?

.....And No Wonder “Conservatives” such as those of the Tea Party Movement are angry!

They want their Medicare..........and they want their Social Security.....
     .....They want their national defense..........and they want their roads.....
         .....and the post office..........and the criminal justice system.....
                  .....and Homeland Security..........and thousands of other things 
that the Federal government—made up of “We, the people”—does.

“Conservatives” like to Talk about “Individual Responsibility”:

They Just Don’t Want to Have to Pay for It.....


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Americans Who Like Their Current Health Insurance....

....Haven’t Really Needed to Use It Yet.

This Is the Dirty Little Secret of your health insurance:

When the Hospital Charges You $X Amount for an IV medicine, and $X amount for the solution that carries it, and $X amount for the tubing, and $X amount for the needle, and $X amount for the nurse to stick you, and $X amount for the next nurse to change out the medicine, and $X amount to change out the glucose solution—a “disallow” is the part that the insurance company says, “Unh-uh. No way. We’re not going to pay that.”

These Are the Real Death Panels. They exist right now. We have them today. They are in the hand of the for-profit insurance companies. And there’s not much you can do about it.

Your Doctor Prescribes Your Hospital Drugs, the insurance company later “disallows” them, the hospital tries getting you to pay, but also raises prices elsewhere to cover these costs that it can’t collect from you.

Tens of Thousands of Dollars can be written off your bill by your insurance company this way. This is the hidden part of the broken system that you don’t know about until it happens to you.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

When Your Shack Is on Fire....

....You Don’t Hold Back the Water Because Your 
Neighbor’s Mansion Might Catch Fire Later....

Fears about the Mushrooming National Debt
should concern every American. But a corollary factor looms equally large on the balance sheet of the U.S.A. financial statement:

This Factor, not surprisingly, is:
Healthcare Reform

The Broken Insurance System only affects those of us in the bottom 95% or so of the wealth class.

People Are Dying out Here, needlessly, and can’t really worry about the budget deficit right now.

Our Focused Efforts to Fix the System
aim to unite concerns of the wealthy—about the debt—with concerns by the rest of us–over the bankrupting features of healthcare.

So Long as the Debt-related Fears of the Wealthy act at the expense of the bottom 95%, all the Republican shouting about the national debt will continue falling on deaf ears.

When Those Worried Only about National Debt join those of us who also must worry about personal, healthcare debt, then the United States of America will unite in restoring fiscal sanity to the country.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now

When You Spend 30 Years taking your neighbors’ water to feed your cattle, you can’t expect the same neighbors to save more for you during the drought.

Times Are Hard All Around—and harder in the middle than at the top. The national debt is unconscionable. The budget deficits are terrifying.

But We’ll Only Get Through This—as one nation, united and indivisible—if we move forward now. While we finally have the chance.

Those Who Think of Themselves First will continue to do so. But it falls to the rest of us—the mainstream of the American people—to make the hard choices and do what must be done.

It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now. The hard process has begun. Congress needs to pass healthcare reform before any more of our middle-income neighbors suffer from the wasteful measures of our wealthier neighbors in the past.