Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sane Health Care Reform

Here are some excellent health care reform proposals from Rep. Ron Paul.  (Being an actual M.D., he might know more about it that Barack, Nancy, Harry, etc.)  It would be worth your time to let your congress members know about these:

H.R. 2629, the Coercion is Not Health Care Act, stops government from taking even more of our money and railroading us into its health care scheme by preventing any individual or agency in the federal government from requiring anyone to purchase health insurance.  H.R. 2629 also prohibits conditioning the receipt of any government benefit or participation in any government program on the purchase or maintenance of health insurance.

H.R. 1495, the Comprehensive Health Care Reform Act of 2009, allows all Americans to pay their health care bills through the method that suits them best by providing all Americans with a tax credit for 100% of health care expenses (fully refundable against both income and payroll taxes), allowing individuals to roll over unused amounts in cafeteria plans and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA), providing a tax credit for premiums for a high-deductible insurance policy connected with a Health Savings Account (HSA) and allowing seniors to use funds in an HSA to pay for a medigap policy, as well as making all medical expenses tax deductible by repealing the 7.5% threshold for the deduction of medical expenses.

H.R. 1498, the Freedom from Unnecessary Litigation Act of 2009, addresses rising medical malpractice costs by providing a tax credit for negative outcomes insurance purchased prior to medical treatment and by preventing medical malpractice awards obtained through binding arbitration from being taxed.

As Dr. Paul said in his speech introducing H.R. 1498, “Relying on negative outcomes insurance instead of litigation will also reduce the costs imposed on physicians, other health care providers, and hospitals by malpractice litigation.”

H.R. 2630, the Protect Patients and Physicians Privacy Act, allows patients and physicians to opt-out of any government-mandated or -funded system of electronic health care records and repeals the federal law creating an “unique patient identifier.”  It also denies the use of federal funds to advance the use of standard unique health identifiers in any federal, state, or private health care plan.

H.R. 3394, the Freedom of Health Speech Act, requires the FTC to actually prove health care claims are false before preventing those claims from being made, and H.R. 3395, the Health Freedom Act, ends the FDA’s attempts to censure truthful health claims.

These are just a few of steps Congressman Paul has taken in Congress to address the health care crisis.
Click here to get contact information for your representatives and urge them to support Dr. Paul’s health care reform legislation.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cult of ‘Volunteerism’

Agnes - October 23, 2009

Kent Comments:

Don’t get me wrong – helping others just for the sake of helping others can be a very good thing.  BUT (and isn’t there always one of those around somewhere?) the obsession – yes, obsession – with ‘volunteerism’ is really a different matter entirely.

Helping others doesn’t need to have ‘ism’ attached to it unless it has become politicized, as it very clearly now has.  Notice what Trout says about the reason for ‘doing’ volunteerism:  you do it for a sense of well-being.  So in the worldview of ‘volunteerism’ you help people so you can get something, it’s just that the something is not money.

It would be horrible to get money for something, wouldn’t it?  As the Bible clearly says, money is the root of all evil – no, wait, it doesn’t say that.

Many of those who promote the cult of ‘volunteerism’ today are politicians and media personalities (and keep in mind how those two categories often overlap).  How many politicians serve in office for no pay, but only for ‘a sense of well-being’?  How many movie stars and TV talking heads do what they do simply ‘for a sense of well-being’?

Helping people who truly need help just because they need help:  good.

Volunteerism’: stupid, politically-correct idiocy often promoted by self-serving hypocrites.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Of Politicians and CEOs

Todays Comic

Kent comments:

Reminds you a bit of someone who wins a Noble Peace Prize having done, well, nothing to deserve it.  But I don’t want to pick on just old B.H.O. today.

I would like to pick on government officials in general.  I’m sure this sort of thing goes on in the corporate world.  But those stockholders Dogbert is talking about – they can be non-stockholders within about ten seconds any day the market is open.  In other words, you can fire ‘your’ CEO at the drop of a hat.

Unfortunately, government officials are not so easy to be rid of, and we have to convince a majority of that group containing many idiots (the voters) to help us fire unwanted government officials.

Those officials often sound just like Dogbert.  Some leach is elected governor of a state, and right away he wastes taxpayers’ money posting his name on signs at the state border and his picture in every government building.  It’s as though he thinks he now owns the entire state!

Some natural disaster happens.  While there is still plenty of photographable devastation present, governors and presidents fly over the area and then proclaim that they are going to help all those poor victims they just flew over.  As far as I know, what they really do is sign some order giving some of my money to those victims.  But they saved the day, of course.

In the halls of legislatures and Congress you hear elected officials talking as though everything that happens is the result of their law-making.  The fact is that most laws made today are designed to prevent people from making things, selling things, and doing things.  Most of the good that happens does so in spite of what lawmakers do.

There should be some dignity and honor in the halls of law-making.  (There is very little of it, but there should be some.)  But perhaps we focus too much attention on the people in government.  If their power were what it should be and no more, they would not matter all that much.  If they managed to figure out what real evil is and restrain it just a bit, we could congratulate them in a very subdued manner and get on with life.

Out there in life and society are the truly important people.  They are the ones who make things, maintain things, keep order, raise families, care for the sick, proclaim the word of God, expand human knowledge, play games, laugh, cry and live.  In these and many related activities you will find the important people.  If we could force the politicians to stay in their place and leave these people alone, what a wonderful world it might be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Good, Brief Article on Healthcare


If all the talk about Obamanation and ‘health care’ seems complicated, I offer this link

with no additional comment.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

At the End of the Road to Serfdom

[from This Is True]

The first Sally Harpold knew there was a problem was when sheriff's deputies showed up at her home in Clinton, Ind., with a warrant for her arrest. But the evidence was clear: four months before, her husband had gotten a cold, and she went to the drugstore and got him some over-the-counter cold medicine. A few days later her daughter caught the cold, so Harpold stopped at another drugstore and got her some medicine too. Once the purchase paperwork was matched up, authorities realized she had committed the crime of buying 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine, an ingredient of crystal meth, but also a common decongestant for runny noses. "The law does not make this distinction," says Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander. "I'm simply enforcing the law as it was written." State law limits purchases to 3.0 grams in any 7-day period. Harpold was taken away in handcuffs, and her local newspaper ran her mug shot on the front page with the headline, "17 Arrested in Drug Sweep". She faces up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. "It's unfortunate," said Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel, whose deputies made the arrest. "But for the good of everyone, the law was put into effect."

Kent comments:

I am not a ‘drug warrior’ and I doubt I every will be.  This is a good example of why.

In order to make sure no one ever plays with dangerous drugs, the government must become intrusive, and eventually totalitarian.  If you make every chemical component of every dangerous drug illegal, you eventually make almost every substance imaginable illegal.

Having done that, you start arresting innocent mothers of ill family members.  Such laws are not, contrary to this idiot sheriff, ‘for the good of everyone.’  They are wasteful.  Why should taxpayers spend the untold thousands of dollars that will be required to process and perhaps incarcerate this ministering mother?  Idiotic is perhaps too tame a term for this madness.

Who could possibly keep track of, or remember, how much decongestant he has purchased in a given time period?  Not only is the sheriff of Vigo County an idiot, the legislators who passed this law are nitwits – and I am trying to restrain myself here.

Hemp used to be used for rope-making.  I hear it is very good for that.  But, of course, it is almost impossible to grow it because it is the same plant that produces marijuana.

Intoxicating oneself is wrong, and it can be destructive of the social order.  But it is just as wrong to try to handle this problem in the counterproductive, pre-emptive, and thus weenified way that we do.

I my judgment, it would be better to shoot intoxicated people on sight than to arrest mothers who are trying to decongest their sick children.  Yes, I am being hyperbolic.  But why not just punish intoxicated people who actually harm someone else?  That is the way one deals with free people.  When you think you are dealing with serfs, slaves, and ‘the masses’ you do what they now do in Indiana.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Showdown Part 2


In the last post I talked about liberty, especially economic liberty, versus some of its rivals.  What follows goes well beyond the original question, but I thought it worth mentioning.

There is a widely held belief that individual liberty is somehow at odds with the Christian faith, especially ‘Sermon On the Mount’-ish teachings such as ‘do to others as you would have them do to you’ and the dictum from the Old Testament and often repeated in the New Testament,  ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is a constant undercurrent of this alleged incompatibility from sources like Jim Wallis and Sojourners, just to name one group.  This assumed incompatibility is so pervasive that many Christian defenders of liberty feel compelled to apologize for liberty in some way.

But it is the ‘Christian’ collectivists who in fact have all the explaining to do.  Not only is Christian ethical teaching compatible with liberty, it demands it.

We must constantly remind ourselves just what it is that collectivists want to do.  They want to impose an economic agenda on others by force.  Just how loving can it be to impose an economic agenda on your neighbors by force?  Those who despise liberty often also claim to hate violence.  How can those who claim to hate violence want to use the force of the state to force their neighbors to follow their economic schemes?  Christians who attempt to advocate state-imposed collectivism have made a deal with the Devil.

Some Christians not particularly friendly with state-enforce collectivism will still rather cavalierly claim that matters like politics and economics are simply not all that important to ‘spiritual’ Christians.  Christianity, they say, is about doing good to others, not worrying about economic systems.

Do tell.

How can Christians, who claim to love their neighbors as themselves, be unconcerned about the use of force on innocent people?  Just how ‘spiritual’ can you be if you are willing to stand silently by as your neighbors are made cannon fodder for some collectivist ideology?  In what sense is this ‘doing good’ to anyone?

Christians who advocate political liberty should never allow themselves to be put on the defensive.  It is those who want to impose their schemes on others by the force of the state that should be called to account on the basis of the Christian faith.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Showdown Is Here and Always Will Be

Today a friend asked this question:

Do you believe that there is a "showdown" coming between Capitalism and Communism? If so, who is winning at this time ? Will these two economic systems meld together at some future time?

Here is my long-winded answer, should you care to suffer through it:

I see ‘capitalism’ – a somewhat loaded term that I really prefer to avoid – as one outcome of human political liberty. The reason I don’t really like the term is that it is a derisive term from Karl Marx, and it distorts the picture of political liberty to some extent.

If people enjoy political liberty in general, then they will necessarily also enjoy economic liberty. This means that it is impossible to ‘meld’ these two systems. Any form of economic tyranny necessarily requires some degree of destruction of economic liberty.

But there is nothing about economic liberty that necessarily leads to capital (resources directed at production) rather than say, consumption. Economic liberty does not even necessarily lead to ‘big business’ – although I have no problem with companies growing large.

Since we enjoy only a limited amount of economic freedom, it is very difficult to predict how ‘the economy’ might look apart from all governmental, manipulative intervention. Would companies remain large? Would more small business flourish? Would people generally consume more? Or would people tend to save more than they do now and own more capital goods? While some economists try to predict such matters (and I find that kind of prediction interesting and useful to some extent) I must conclude that we really don’t know, nor is it likely that we can know.

But here is something I DO know. Sin has infected human society. Human political liberty requires a large degree of restraint on some human sinful activities. This is very difficult to achieve (and it sounds funny to say it) in a world of sinful human beings. This is not to say that this restraint cannot happen to a degree great enough to increase political liberty. But it will always be an uphill struggle because there will always be those who give themselves over to sin and as one result will attempt to misuse the power of government to impose their will upon others. They will conspire, connive, and plot to do this.

Sometimes this will happen because the power-mongers are misguided ideologues who stupidly believe that their ‘system’ will make the world a wonderful place. But more often they will be those who simply love power and all that comes with it. In the face of all this it requires wisdom, courage, personal strength and a degree of relative moral goodness to implement or preserve political liberty. As you can see, this is just some of the details of ‘the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.’

So I must conclude that we are locked in a continuing showdown between political liberty (delicate and difficult to maintain) and all its enemies (state communism is just one), for whom political liberty is just something to kick out of their way as they reach for more and more power. The problem is that when we begin to enjoy a degree of political liberty, we tend to think we can coast. We cannot. The equation is one of an equilibrium which favors the decrease of political liberty. So it requires constant attention and effort to shift that equilibrium toward liberty.

In my lifetime I can now see what happens when those who have some degree of love for liberty become complacent. We can trust no one with liberty. It must be actively guarded at all times, even from ourselves. It is far too easy to lobby for and vote for things that are anti-liberty just because I think they will make my life more immediately comfortable. Just now it appears to me that, due to a recent lack of attention, the anti-liberty forces are predominant: very predominant in the world, and somewhat predominant in our country.

The showdown, the battle for liberty, never ends. That is part of the nature of the current human condition. Our attempts to restrain power (which I distinguish from authority) can never slacken or power will quickly overwhelm us. In the end, God will win – of course. But before that end the struggle for political liberty will not end.