Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time Out

Since I last posted, some personal things have been occupying large parts of my mind and consuming lots of my attention. They came to a head today, and it will be at least a few more days before I am ready to post again.

But I will be back. And I will be just as opposed to interventionist government as ever.

In the meantime, to all of you who are taking to the streets and town hall meetings to oppose Obamacare: Keep it up! Your brand of grassroots, back-to-the-founding activism is the most inspiring (and potenetially most important) thing to happen in American politics in years.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

V-J Day

64 years ago today, the bloodiest war in human history came to an end when Japan accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. The announcement of Japan's surrender set off celebraions around the globe, including the one in Times Square during which this iconic picture was taken.

After six years, during which more than 60 million people from 27 different countries were killed, World War II was finally over. In the United States, August 15th came to be known as V-J Day, for Victory in Japan Day, since our European enemies had surrendered three months earlier.

Despite the fact that America was brought into the war when it was bombed by Japan, and despite the fact that atomic weapons were used to hasten the war's end, and despite enormous cultural differences, the two countries became strong and lasting friends whose alliance is now one of the most dependable on earth.

That is a direct result of the respectful and helping way America dealt with Japan after the war ended. One of the reasons we are unique in world history is that as conflicts conclude, we always seek to befriend our antagonists and to better their lot as well as our own. That fact needs to be burned into the hearts and minds of those who believe America is always the aggessor.

In my younger days, V-J Day was noted on calendars. Today it is not. This is not how it should be.

The Greatest Generation is rapidly passing to the other side of eternity's veil. Before its members are gone, may the rest of us thank them for the freedom they transmitted to us. And may we resolve that their sacrifice shall never be forgotten, and that it shall not have been made in vain.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Medical Care: Part II

This is the second in a series of posts about American medical care and the government’s attempts to meddle in it. Posts about other topics may appear between them.

My first post in this series pointed out that among the people who want to do away with the way medical care is delivered in America, most of them cite Canada and the U.K. as models we should follow. Then, it recited some important facts about medical care in this nation versus medical care in those nations, showing that things are better here. Finally, it closed by asking why we should abandon our system and follow theirs.

But few Americans really want to “abandon our system.” Polls repeatedly show that 75 to 80 percent of us are happy with our coverage and our care. What most people do want is to find a way to accommodate those who are faced with hardships that genuinely prevent them from receiving medical services.

But the percentage of our population which falls into that category is small, and finding a way to accommodate them does not require that we eradicate the entire apparatus by which our care is delivered.

Obama has breezily claimed that 47 million Americans are uninsured, but nobody who analyzes the census estimates concurs with him. Sure, for 2007 (the most recent year for which census estimates exist) the stated number of uninsured was 45.7 million. However, after you back out the number of non-citizens -- and the number of people who already qualified for existing public care -- and the number of high earners who chose not to buy insurance because they could afford to pay for whatever treatment they needed -- and the number of people who were temporarily uninsured because they were between jobs, or were simply waiting to meet their new employer’s waiting period before they could be eligible for benefits -- the number plummets to anywhere from 8 to 15 million, depending on who’s doing the estimating.

And that is a relatively small number that should be easy to deal with. There are many things (to be discussed in a future post) that Obama & Co. could do to help those people without jeopardizing the care everyone else receives. However, those things are not even being discussed because the government’s goal is not to help people, but to control them.

On many occasions, Obama has said that under the proposed legislation you can keep your current plan if you like it and keep your current doctor if you like him. This is not true. The House bill would assess a fine, equal to anywhere from 2 to 8 percent of payroll, on employers who do not provide medical insurance to their workers. What Obama & Co. choose not to tell you is that for most employers, the amount of money they are already paying for medical insurance is much higher than that -- usually around 15 percent of payroll. Therefore, the fine will actually incent businesses to drop their insurance. In a competitive environment, what business owner would not choose to pay 2 to 8 percent to the government over paying 15 percent to an insurer.

Worse, when you look at page 16 of the bill, you will find that after your employer drops your insurance, the so-called public option will be the only one available to you because purchasing private insurance will then be illegal.

Further, the bill forbids anyone who does keep their private insurance after the legislation goes into effect from ever making any changes to it...so if you (or your employer) want to do anything like change your deductible or your prescription co-pay, or opt out of maternity coverage, you must either 1) forget the idea, or 2) lose your coverage and be forced into the public system since new private insurance will not be legal.

If the president and his minions were honest, they would stop referring to their plan as a public “option” and call it what it is: a dictate from on high that has everything to do with seizing power and nothing to do with saving lives.

Information used in this post was obtained from Investor’s Business Daily, the Chicago Tribune, the Lewin Group, and the Schnitt Show.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Medical Care: Part I

This is the first in a series of posts about American medical care and the government’s attempts to meddle in it. Posts about other topics may appear between them.

Poll after poll is showing that the American people are not buying what Obama & Co. are peddling under the guise of “health care reform.” Reports say that calls to congressional offices are running 15-to-1 against the pending pieces of legislation collectively known as Obamacare. Doctors are coming out in full force to oppose it. When it comes to the legislations’ faults and the president’s misrepresentations of them, even the MSM is being forthright (well, more than usual) in covering some of them.

In this environment, I have not felt as compelled to write about Obamacare as I did a few weeks ago. But at the same time, I know the fight is far from over, and I know it is foolish to trust people called “Blue Dog Democrats” or “moderate Republicans” to follow their consciences when it comes time to vote. And I know that many people are still susceptible to magic phrases like “universal health care” and “single-payer system.” So, into the water I wade.

When it comes to critiquing the legislation, the main problem is that there is so much to criticize it takes forever to figure out where to start and what angle to take. Therefore, the most logical thing to do is go back to the beginning and ask: Is involving the federal government in our medical care necessary in the first place, and if so, why? Which is important, because so far no answer has been established to either part of that question.

Sure, we hear that health insurance is expensive, but we never hear actual numbers. We also hear that many Americans don’t have health insurance, but the numbers we hear are usually false. Does anybody honestly believe that government is more capable than the free market when it comes to delivering care in an effective and timely manner? And that it can reduce costs in the process? Even diehard leftists know this is not possible.

Almost always, the folks who want to do away with our medical marketplace and replace it with a “system” believe we should do things the way they are done in Canada and Europe. And the European country they most often cite is the U.K. So don’t you think we should compare what we have to what people in those places have before we start remaking ourselves in their image? Here are some things to consider:

The overall cancer survival rate, which is widely considered the most important measure of medical care quality, is 16% higher here than it is in Canada.

When it comes to Europe, a study published by the BBC shows the overall cancer survival rate in the U.S. is higher by an average of 25% than it is in every one of the 20 European countries studied -- and the U.K.’s rate was the fourth worst of those 20.

Along the same lines, 40% of cancer patients in the U.K. never even get to see an oncologist.

In Canada, 27% of the people who need surgery wait more than four months before receiving it. In the U.K., that figure is 36%. In the U.S., it is just 5%.

In both Canada and the U.K., the number of MRI machines per person is four times fewer than it is here. In Canada, the number of CT scans per person is half what it is here, and in the U.K. it is four times fewer than here.

The average wait time for an MRI in Canada, just to find out what is wrong with you, is 10 weeks. When it comes to the U.K., I could not find a clear answer as to the wait time; however, that country’s Department of Health has stated that the average wait for the 15 most common diagnostic tests (of which MRI is one) is seven weeks.

Though I have not seen an official statistic on wait times in the U.S., I know from examining people’s medical records (which I do every day in my occupation) and from my own and others’ personal experiences that the wait is typically days, not weeks.

So before we go further, I ask: Why should we abandon our system and follow theirs?

In addition to the BBC and U.K. Department of Health, information used in this post was obtained from www.healthcare-economist.com, the Tampa Tribune, and the writings of Thomas Sowell.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Enemy of Equality and Peace

I ended my most recent post by implying that the next time I wrote, health care would be the topic. Well, it will actually be the topic of my next post after this one. In the meantime, I am taking the opportunity of this little blog to mention two stories you probably haven't heard on your six o'clock news.

The first comes from Gorja, Pakistan, where Muslims accused three Christian youths of burning a copy of the Koran last week. The youths denied the charge. Then, on Sunday, a group of armed Islamists "responded" by attacking a predominantly Christian neighborhood with gas bombs, looting and setting fire to dozens of homes, burning at least eight people to death, and firing guns into he crowd of people who were fleeing them.

The other story comes from another Islamic country, Sudan, where 13 women were arrested in a restaurant last month for wearing trousers. Two days later, 10 of them accepted the punishment of being lashed 10 times with a whip. Two others have yet to receive their sentences. However, the thirteenth woman -- Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, who was sentenced to 40 lashes -- has responded in true Gandhi/MLK fashion by appealing the verdict and saying she will bear any consequence of her appeal in order to rally the public against this kind of theocratic misogyny, which is common throughout the Muslim world.

Al-Hussein is a journalist and she invited other journalists to attend her first hearing in court, to which she arrived wearing the same clothes which led to her arrest. She stated: "If some people refer to the sharia (Islamic law) to justify flagellating women because of what they wear, then let them show me which Koranic verses or hadith say so. I haven't found them...Tens of thousands of women and girls have been whipped for their clothes these last 20 years...It's just that none of them would dare complain...I want people to know. I want these women's voices to be heard."

When women showed up in support of al-Hussein today, police beat them with batons. It is reported that they also beat one of her attorneys.

Slowly -- although never on the first page of newpapers (the page most people read) and never near the beginning of news shows (when people are actually paying attention) -- a few MSM outlets have started to acknowledge al-Hussein's plight. Still, they give it nowehere near the attention it deserves and as a result few people know about it. And they say nothing about the plight of the Christians in Gorja.

It is interesting that America's major media outlets -- all of which claim to be champions of oppressed women and minorities -- are so silent when the oppression is committed by Muslims. They are much more interested in criticizing Sarah Palin and complaining about the president who left office six months ago than they are in doing anything about the true evil afoot in the world.