Tag Archives: Obama

Are There any Alternatives?

A while back, Anitra, a friend of mine, asked a good question about the debate on healthcare:

I usually never comment on your blogs, but I do read them and love your insight and straight forwardness. Could you post an alternative to what is being proposed? I am not understanding what is wrong with a government run health care plan? Illegal immigrants are covered now…you just pay out of your taxes. I worked at a hospital as un undergrad; uninsured people can go to the ER and can’t be turned away. The problem with that is they could probably benefit from preventive care, etc. My mom died of cancer in 2005; by the end of her illness, even though she’d worked her entire adult life, except for the time she took off to raise children until the youngest was five and could go to school; she had insurance and when her cancer bills kept mounting, they started denying our claims saying that her treatment was ‘experimental.’ We ended up having to pay out of pocket for meds and drugs and her illness wiped us out financially. That is not fair. The US is ranked 37th in Healthcare according to the World Heath Organization (http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html) and countries that are being criticized in the health care debate are ahead of us. What is the alternative to what Obama is proposing? Medicare is just about broke right now and the baby boomer generation is quickly approaching the age to be eligible. What do we do? On TV and in conservative forums, there seems to just be opposition to what Obama is proposing…it’s too expensive, etc. Fine. What is the alternative? What’s wrong with a single-payer system where ALL Americans are covered? What we have is not working, and I have seen it first hand through the inhumane way that we were treated during my mother’s battle for life. Please point me in the direction to some links or info on viable solutions to the current issue. Thanks and I appreicate your blog. Know that you touch people even if they don’t leave comments. =)

She raises a few good questions.  Here are my thoughts:

First, even if there is no good alternative that conservatives propose, it does not follow that we must accept Obama’s plan.  Not only is suggesting so a false dichotomy, but it turns on an equivocation as well.  It’s a common “politician’s ploy” that goes something like this:

Something must be done.

This is something.

Therefore, it must be done.

I’m not buyin’.  Bottom line, if the “something” that is being proposed is morally suspect and could potentially make things worse, we are not obligated to accept it, even if it’s the only solution currently on the table.

In fact, Anitra mentions one of the reasons we have for thinking Obama’s solution will make things worse: Medicare.  If you click on the second link above, you’ll see that a Obama’s plan (well, at least as it was about a month ago.  I haven’t kept up with the debate since then so I admit things might have changed.   If they have, someone feel free to correct me) will dump millions of Americans into a Medicare-like system, which isn’t made to handle that many people.  That’s what the government option basically is: Medicare for the public.  As the Verum Serum fellas put it, if Medicare is driving us into further debt, why burden it more with more people?

Secondly, my main concern with government-run healthcare isn’t an economic concern.  It is more basic and has to do with government’s proper role.  In my view, government’s role is to provide law and order and ensure that citizens have equal opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  It is not government’s role to provide those things for us.  In other words, the state protects it’s citizens from harm, but should not provide us with benefits and goods.  Some might denigrate this by calling it abstract philosophizing, but I’m not persuaded by the loaded words.  Since ideas are connected to people’s lives, flourishing, and wellbeing, ideas have consequences.  I’ve commented on the consequences many times before on this blog, as have many others.

Thirdly, again as Anitra mentions, there are legitimate concerns with our current system.  The consensus seems to be that a) people are being denied coverage for frivolous reasons (i.e “pre-existing conditions,” Anitra’s mom’s experience, etc), b) the people who want coverage should be able to get it (crucial distinction.  Some can afford coverage but willingly forego it because they want to purchase something else, like a nice car), and, similarly, c) make coverage more affordable.  No need to move to a single-payer system (and many a Dem has admitted that a “government/public option” is a good intermediary step to that end goal) to take care of those issues.

Here are some alternatives that conservatives have proposed (HT: Wintery).  WK also has some good, short podcasts here that might help put things in perspective.

Here’s Paul Ryan talking about the alternative he’s spearheaded:

HT: Hotair

FWIW, here’s a critique of Ryan’s bill I found, plus a critique of the critique.  By the time I read the critique of the critique, my head was spinning, so I simply point all those interested parties to them…make up your own minds, folks.  Again, I’ve been out of the loop on healthcare for over a month now (150 17 year olds beckon), so this post might be horribly out of line with the current state of affairs, so I welcome any and all comments/corrections.   As for now: were it summer, I’d trudge through it all and write a detailed post on it, but I have a late night Congress session with senators pillow and sheet in a few minutes, so I have to go…:)

Countering the Counters

There are a number of myths afoot…at least that’s what Obama would have you believe.

Actually, he’s kinda right, but not in the way he thinks.  Basically, he is busy countering the claims of concerned conservatives, charging that they are spreading myths and lies.  His counters are centered around a few sticking points:

1) My health care bill will not give coverage to illegal immigrants.

2)  My health care bill does not constitute a government takeover of healthcare.

3)  My health care bill will not provide coverage for elective abortions.

4)  My health care bill will not mandate rationing for the elderly and others.

While he thinks the myths are coming from the mouths of his opponents, in actuality they are coming from his own mouth.  Jeff at Jeff’s Garage does a good job of countering the counters.  While in each instance you won’t find verbatim language to the effect of “the government will ration care” or something like that, the concerns of conservatives can indeed be inferred.  That is, rationing, coverage for elective abortions, government takeover of healthcare, and coverage for illegal immigrants follows if you connect the dots and follow the logic.
Read the whole post.  It’s enlightening.

The Cure that Kills the Patient

I had someone make the following comment regarding William Lane Craig’s argument against Obama’s health care plan:

I agree that it should be us taking care of our brothers and we shouldn’t need the Government to do it for us.  Unfortunately we live in a fallen world and we are not doing it, so the idea of socialized healthcare intrigues me.

My response: I don’t see how noting that we live in a fallen world is an argument for socialized healthcare.  The government is part of that fallen world too, so if it’s the fallen world that is to blame for us not taking care of others, how will the government do any better?  That’s like saying, “hey, you’re kinda sketchy behind the wheel, so I’m gonna let my 105 year old grandma with cataracts drive the bus.”

In addition, will government’s involvement make it more or less likely that people will start caring for others?  Less likely.  The more of our own responsibilities we hand off to the government, the more we will start to see “caring for others” as “letting the government do it.”  We will have less and less motivation to step up and do it ourselves, because the nanny state will be taking care of it (and doing a pretty mediocre job of taking care of it, I might add).  This is one reason why institutions like the family are so weak in Europe–the ingrained nanny state mentality sucks the life out of bedrock social institutions.  Obama’s healthcare plan will reinforce the trend, not change it for the better.

The state also has to pay for the responsibilities it takes over.  That money will not only come from your pocket, but from your neighbor’s.  So you want to pay for socialized healthcare?  Fine, do that.  But how can you call forcing your neighbor to pony up the cash “solidarity” or “me being my brother’s keeper”?

Finally, as Craig pointed out in his brief talk, Obama is making it harder for people in the upper tax brackets to give to charity.  That shows his true colors right there.  He’s not just passively letting our own selfishness consume our philanthropy; he’s actively trying to shrink it!

I’ve said all along that the legitimate concerns people have with our healthcare system (bringing insurance costs down, insuring everyone, making sure that insurance isn’t withdrawn at sketchy times) can easily be taken care of without going nuts and instituting the drastic changes of the Obama administration.  It’s not even clear that Obama’s plan will knock out *any* of those concerns, aside from insuring everyone, in substantial ways.  His current plan will be the cure that kills the patient (literally, in a way).

We want a full, robust concept of “being my brother’s keeper” to be alive and thriving in this country.  That might  not be happening right now as much as we want (then again, the charitable giving in the U.S swallows the giving from citizens of every other country…combined), but if we let Obama have his way, you can kiss that hope goodbye.  Congress and the executive branch of our government can, indeed, help to reverse the trend.  All they gotta do is get out of the way.

PS–on a related side note: how can healthcare be a right?  It’s a benefit, people, not a right!  There is a difference.  The government’s role is to keep the peace, assure order, and get out of your way in your pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.  *You* pursue those things.  The government does not give them to you.  You have a right to the state protecting you from harm and protecting you from being blocked in your pursuit.  You do not have a right to the state giving you services and benefits.  Might be nice, yes (but if you take the moral argument I’ve been making seriously, perhaps not), but don’t trot out this nonsense of it being a right.

My friend didn’t make that comment, but it needs to be said still because rights language is being employed by the left way, way too much.  It’s a sham.

The Government, not you, is Your Brother’s Keeper…?

Listen to William Lane Craig (dude who debated Christopher Hitchens…and scores of other fellas on various topics) talk about left-leaning religious arguments for Obama’s health care plan.

It’s good stuff, trust me.  One thing he comments on is the moral argument I wrote about a while back.  Obama is still trying to take the moral high ground, except this time he’s using religious language to do it.  I don’t have a problem with him using religious language, but I do have a problem with the specific argument he makes.  He argues that we each have an obligation to care for each other.  On this I agree.  On this the New Testament also agrees.  But then he coyly suggests that government is the best way to do that!

What ballyhoo.  Like I hinted at earlier, that is such a weak sauce definition of  “solidarity,” and it needs to be put to rest.

HT: Wintery (dude, you’re en fuego)

Breeding Passive Moochers

In the days leading up to our wedding, my fiance’ and I had a tremendous amount of help. My mom, dad, and sister and more all chipped in to help. My fiance’ herself was an all star, doing what needed to be done quickly and efficiently. I am forever thankful for the help. Without everyone chipping in, we wouldn’t have made it.

There were several things that were under my control that I myself needed to do, though: organize groomsmen transport, organize tux pick-up, keep communication between groom, bride, parents, groomsmen, etc going, get invitee addresses, get groomsmen gifts (back scratchers…best idea ever), mail invitations, buy flight tickets, plan honeymoon, get rental car for honeymoon, and on and on.

My mom and fiance’, though, were willing to do all that. Say I let them; first, I handed off the duty of finding plane tickets. Then invitations. Then, I let them plan the honeymoon, find the rental car, get my groomsmen gifts, etc, etc. Pretty soon, I’d end up lying on the couch the whole time, watching CSI reruns and Judge Judy, eating Kit Kat bars, and taking lots of naps. Bam! Easy street! Why lift a finger if the women are there, able, and willing to make the event happen? If mom was willing to do all that for me, why not let her? If my fiance’ was trying to do some of that, who cares if she’s stressed out…she’s offering, so why not, right?

If I started thinking and behaving that way before marriage, it would very easily be habit forming. I can see myself carrying that sort of thing over into my marriage. Lethargic, passive irresponsibility is easily habit forming and difficult to break once the pattern sets in. Who would want to be married to a guy who thinks a “one flesh” relationship means “let the women do it”?

It occurred to me that this is a decent illustration of what tends to happen when the state takes over a task or role for which the citizenry should be responsible. The government should take on some responsibilities–punishing the wicked, keeping the streets safe at night, for example–but when it takes on tasks such that the citizens no longer have to take responsibility for themselves, it becomes a nanny state, and the result is a thinning of the moral fabric of the nation.  Solidarity used to mean lending a helping hand to your neighbor and walking along with him in a time of need.  Now solidarity means “let the state do it.”

The state has been taking over such responsibilities slowly but surely the last 100 years or so, and we’ve gotten used to it. The dependence upon Big Brother that has birthed has become a habit. The precedent was set long ago that if there’s a need, the government should provide the solution. Now, for instance, many simply take for granted that nationalized healthcare is a “right.” They think it “self-evident.”

Last week I quoted an Acton Institute Facebook note that touched upon this powerfully:

Here (is one) reason why nationalized health care is in fact not a morally pure as proponents would like us to believe:

Handing something off to the state so citizens don’t have to take responsibility for themselves and others doesn’t doesn’t really contribute to the moral fabric of a society.

We love to talk about solidarity and the common good but too often solidarity gets turned into “let the state take care of it.” A broader and I would argue morally rich concept of the solidarity and the common good would look to human flourishing and a rich civil society and turn to the state only as the last resort.

It hurts the common good to have the state take over responsibilities that we should bear ourselves or for our fellow citizens. A large nanny state contributes to the “individualism” that Tocqueville warned about: a turning into self that isolates us from everyone but our nearest circle. If the state does everything for us then we don’t need to care about our brothers and sisters and fellow citizens. This means the breakdown of guess what–solidarity. Solidarity is the driving principle behind subsidiarity, voluntary organizations, and charity. Love of neighbor should prompt us to help each other not pass it it off to the state.

From a moral point of view, having the state take over health care breaks down solidarity and harms the common good.

In both instances, “passing the buck” produces a pathetic human being. In the former case, I don’t need to get off my duff and organize part of the wedding–mommy will do that for me. In the latter case, I don’t need to have a job so I can pay for healthcare for my family–the state will take from my neighbor’s pocket and will provide it for me. In fact, I am used to the state doing this, so it’s become habit forming: I expect it of my government. My neighbor must pay for my family’s health problems–it’s a right!

I’m all for discussing how to reform our healthcare system. I admit: I wish the insurance prices were lower, and the insurance companies can give the sick the shaft.  It would be nice for coverage to be more affordable so the poor can have access to decent health insurance (everyone already has access to health *care,* btw).  None of this means, however, that healthcare is a right and that the state should be the provider of it.

The Morality of Nationalized Healthcare

Yesterday I ran across an awesome post on Facebook about healthcare by The Acton Institute.  It makes some great points in regards to an area not often examined and discussed–the morality of the healthcare debate.  It is often assumed that liberals like Obama who want to nationalize healthcare have the moral high ground, but this is far from obvious.

The whole note is simply awesome, so I’m just going to quote it in full here:

One of the main arguments for nationalized health care is a moral argument: Health care is a right and a moral and just society should ensure that its people are taken care of–and the state has the responsibility to do this. Bracketing for the time being whether health care is actually a right or not–it is clearly a good, but all goods are not necessarily rights–whether the state should be the provider of it is another question.

But there is another question as well: It is often assumed that those arguing for national health care and socialized medicine have the moral high ground and those of us who oppose it are always arguing on economic terms. I would argue that this is a ground too easily given and not deserved. While the economics are pretty clear, the moral arguments against nationalized health care are sometimes overlooked. Here are a couple of reasons why nationalized health care is in fact not a morally pure as proponents would like us to believe.

1. Handing something off to the state so citizens don’t have to take responsibility for themselves and others doesn’t doesn’t really contribute to the moral fabric of a society.

We love to talk about solidarity and the common good but too often solidarity gets turned into “let the state take care of it.” A broader and I would argue morally rich concept of the solidarity and the common good would look to human flourishing and a rich civil society and turn to the state only as the last resort.

It hurts the common good to have the state take over responsibilities that we should bear ourselves or for our fellow citizens. A large nanny state contributes to the “individualism” that Tocqueville warned about: a turning into self that isolates us from everyone but our nearest circle. If the state does everything for us then we don’t need to care about our brothers and sisters and fellow citizens. This means the breakdown of guess what–solidarity. Solidarity is the driving principle behind subsidiarity, voluntary organizations, and charity. Love of neighbor should prompt us to help each other not pass it it off to the state.

From a moral point of view, having the state take over health care breaks down solidarity and harms the common good.

2. At least equally important–how moral is a health care system based on utilitarian cost benefit calculus and consequentialism? Not very, but that’s how nationalized healthcare operates.

Think about what this means for a minute. Health care decisions are made based on cost benefit and utility which itself puts us on dangerous moral ground. This danger becomes clear when when we realize the consequences. A utilitarian, data driven or what ever you want to call it system ends up by putting pressure on the weak and especially targets the disabled and the elderly. Why? Because if decisions are make based on utility then why would we want to spend health dollars on the disabled and the elderly when their “usefulness” is minimal. Keeping the elderly and the disabled alive costs money. For Christians or other who accept the inherent dignity of life the value of this is obvious, but for secular utilitarians and a utilitarian health care system this is a waste of money–which means that after a time within a national health care system, pressure will mount to euthanize the elderly and infirm. If this sound ridiculous and conspiratorial to you I suggest that you look at Europe and what is beginning to happen there. After years of population decline Europe is a demographic disaster and guess what? Euthanasia has been legalized in three countries (Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg), is widely practiced in a fourth (Switzerland) and many pro-euthanasia advocates are starting to introduce cost-effectiveness arguments into their position.

The facts are that a state run health system, while sounding very moral, actually undermines the common good and ends up putting pressure on the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled.

Proponents of nationalized health care attempt to make emotional arguments because economic and medical data supporting their position doesn’t exist. Let us not grant them the moral high ground on this debate. Nationalized health care is scientifically, spiritually, and morally bankrupt—oh yes as Europe is demonstrating, financially bankrupt as well.

HT: Brett Kunkle of STR

Paul Ryan on MSNBC

This fella opens up a can on a few pro-Obamacare one liners.

I’m impressed.

What do you think about what he said?

HT:  Hotair

Related: check out Peggy Noonan’s most recent column on healthcare: Common Sense May Sink Obamacare.  An excerpt:

The common wisdom the past week has been that whatever challenges health care faces, the president will at least get something because he has a Democratic House and Senate and they’re not going to let their guy die. He’ll get this or that, maybe not a new nationalized system but some things, and he’ll be able to declare some degree of victory.

And this makes sense. But after the news conference, I found myself wondering if he’d get anything.

I think the plan is being slowed and may well be stopped not by ideology, or even by philosophy in a strict sense, but by simple American common sense. I suspect voters, the past few weeks, have been giving themselves an internal Q-and-A that goes something like this:

Will whatever health care bill is produced by Congress increase the deficit? “Of course.” Will it mean tax increases? “Of course.” Will it mean new fees or fines? “Probably.” Can I afford it right now? “No, I’m already getting clobbered.” Will it make the marketplace freer and better? “Probably not.” Is our health-care system in crisis? “Yeah, it has been for years.” Is it the most pressing crisis right now? “No, the economy is.” Will a health-care bill improve the economy? “I doubt it.”

The White House misread the national mood. The problem isn’t that they didn’t “bend the curve,” or didn’t sell it right. The problem is that the national mood has changed since the president was elected. Back then the mood was “change is for the good.” But that altered as the full implications of the financial crash seeped in. The crash gave everyone a diminished sense of their own margin for error. It gave them a diminished sense of their country’s margin for error. Americans are not in a chance-taking mood. They’re not in a spending mood, not after the unprecedented spending of the past year, from the end of the Bush era through the first six months of Obama. Here the Congressional Budget Office report that a health-care bill would not save money but would instead cost more than a trillion dollars in the next decade was decisive. People say bureaucrats never do anything. The bureaucrats of CBO might have killed health care.

The final bill, with all its complexities, will probably be huge, a thousand pages or so. Americans don’t fear the devil’s in the details, they fear hell is. Do they want the same people running health care who gave us the Department of Motor Vehicles, the post office and the invasion of Iraq?

She goes on to add three points to the debate that she thinks will continue to erode support for the President’s plan.  Not sure what to think about the first and third points, but am totally with her on the second.  Go read the full article for the details.