News Flash! My Wife’s a Czar!

I am proud to inform you that my wife was appointed Holiday Weekend Traffic czar for the Obama administration today! She made her first public statement in this capacity at 3:00 p.m. PST from the passenger seat of our SUV as we traveled east on CA-78. Here’s the transcript:

“Thank you for coming today. As you now know, I have just been appointed Holiday Weekend Traffic czar for the Obama administration, and I am both humbled and honored at the responsibility entrusted to me.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Labor Day weekend is a time when many Americans take advantage of the three-day weekend and travel. This increase in travel during the holiday weekend often leads to congestion on our nation’s roadways, costing America time and money.

After tireless research and much deliberation, I have come up with a bipartisan plan to alleviate the congestion on our roadways. It is a plan that will save money, protect the environment, build strong families, and protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens from the threat of disease.

The plan can be summed up in one word: staycation.

By staying home this holiday weekend, instead of venturing afield, Americans can help the economy by foregoing the expenses of travel, avoiding the cost of fuel, meals, and lodging. Staycations also discourage frivolous spending, such as the purchasing of turqouise jewelry or plastic snowglobes at truck stop gift shops.

The “staycation plan” is also a green plan: by staying home Americans reduce their use of fossil fuels, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To further reduce their negative impact upon the ecosphere, Americans can also take the opportunity to plant a “staycation garden” while enjoying the holiday weekend.

Building strong families is another positive aspect of staycations. Rather than visit an amusement park, the beach, or a campground–where family members often split up in order to pursue their own individual interests–the staycation gives families the opportunity to spend quality time together in the comfort of their own homes.

This Labor Day weekend Americans face the threat of the H1N1 virus, and the elderly, children, and others who are most susceptible to the spread of communicable diseases must be protected. A staycation is the best way to prevent one’s family and loved ones from contracting a disease such as the H1N1 virus, by keeping them away from amusement parks, beaches, campgrounds, and other areas rife with disease.

There are those who might argue that the cost of this plan is too high, that in the end it will actually result in a net loss to the economy as the travel and tourism industries suffer a loss of revenue from people staying home. This is short-sighted thinking. To offset any potential losses of revenue to the aforementioned industries, I encourage all Americans to take advantage of the traditionally low Labor Day weekend prices and go on a brief Internet shopping spree from home. There is no better way to remember your family’s staycation than a sweater from L.L. Bean.

In closing, I would like to further address critics of the “staycation plan.” After introducing this plan to many motorists on a crowded San Diego freeway earlier this afternoon, I was surprised at how few of the people I shouted at as they drove by with their windows up embraced the plan. In fact, a majority of the people I shouted at ignored my plan at this time. However, I’m sure that upon further explanation–through webcasts, prime-time appearances, town hall meetings, and interviews in Us Weekly–all Americans will come to see the brilliance of my plan.

I thank you, and have a good day.”

Have a great Labor Day, everyone!  🙂

P.S. My wife’s one funny lady…

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Why the Golden Rule and Collectivism Don’t Mix

On blogs, at town hall meetings, on television news programs, and standing in line at the grocery store I’ve read and heard comments impugning the character of those who oppose the government’s current version of health care reform.  I’ve seen those with legitimate concerns regarding further governmental intervention in the health care system derided as greedy, heartless, and selfish.  Usually the derisive comments are followed by an appeal to sympathy and man’s better nature:  “What if someone you loved was poor and old and sick?  Wouldn’t you want them to get the help they needed?” 

In short, the most common argument in favor of H.R. 3200 in all its permutations is based upon the ethic of reciprocity, also known as the golden rule:  “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” (Matthew 7:12). 

For those who support the proposed health care reform legislation, there is a moral imperative to distributing medical care and coverage equally among all individuals.  When it comes to health care, anything less than full distributive equality is morally reprehensible.  After all, if we are truly equal in the eyes of our Creator, do we not also have the right to receive equal health coverage and care? 

The golden rule, in other words, is the foundation upon which many people claim to base their support for universal health care.  For proponents of universal health care, providing coverage and care to the less fortunate equal to the coverage enjoyed by those more fortunate is simply the right thing to do because it embodies the near-universal ethic of reciprocity, an ethic delineated in practically every religion and philosophy mankind has explored and practiced. 

However, the problem with full distributive equality of any material result, including health care, is that it can never be accomplished without robbing some individuals for the benefit of others, thereby destroying equality of opportunity and rendering the individual either a supplicant or a slave. 

In order to reach full distributive equality of material result, standards of reciprocity between individuals must be dictated and enforced by some third party with the power to arbitrarily decide who gets how much from whom.  In the end each man is pitted against every other groveling for favor at the feet of government, fighting to prove his claim to another man’s material freedom. 

This is not the kind of world the golden rule seeks to create. 

Equality of material result inherently requires collectivist practices—and the golden rule is an axiom of individual ethic.  When Jesus climbed the mountain to teach the Beatitudes to his disciples, he didn’t tell them, “So whatever society wishes that a man would do to society, society should do so to a man.”  He didn’t tell them at the Mount of Olives that “as society did it to one of the least of these my brethren, society did it to me.”  Jesus’ various invocations of the ethic of reciprocity are focused not at the collective but at the individual, because compassion and charity are matters best suited to a free conscience, not collective mandate. 

Furthermore, the very practice of reciprocity assumes individual liberty as a prerequisite.  How can I reciprocate to another according to my conscience if the means of my reciprocation has been confiscated by a third party?  Every dollar the government takes from the individual’s pocket for the service of “society” is one less dollar available to the individual for personal acts of compassion and charity. 

Even if I agree with its goals, when the government confiscates my resources automatically and distributes them to others for the “public good,” I’m not practicing the golden rule because I’m not doing the legwork the ethic of reciprocity demands.  Instead, I’m practicing a dispassionate and sterile collectivism that allows me to avoid losing time and energy helping the less fortunate by sacrificing my liberty. 

It is impossible to practice the golden rule and collectivism at the same time.  The moral imperative of the golden rule is violated the moment individual conscience is replaced by collective will.  No matter how noble the ideal of egalitarian result for all might seem, even a humble carpenter’s son living in the 1st century realized the impossibility of earthly utopia:  “For you always have the poor with you” (Matthew 26:11).  Compassion and charity for the less fortunate is not the obligation of society—it is the free choice of the individual whose conscience dictates personal action. 

Note:  The citation of the words of Jesus is a matter of convenience, not proselytizing.  My own frame of reference is that of a Christian, but the ethic of reciprocity can be found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Humanism, et al.  All biblical quotations are from the 2nd ed. Revised Standard Edition of the Holy Bible.

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Preaching to the choir, Diane Watson style

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, Rep. Diane Watson (D) demonstrates the depths to which some members of the Democratic Party will stoop in the name of political victory.

To a small crowd of her constituents at last night’s town hall meeting on health care reform at the Ward African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles’ West Adams District, the former elementary school teacher preached the gospel according to Alinsky and Marx. The tried and true liberal canards of fundamental American racism and the glories of the Cuban Revolution were met with applause and the ocassional “Amen,” according to KABC’s Michael Linder, the only broadcast journalist in attendance.

You have to give Diane Watson credit: she’s consistent in her race-baiting and collectivist claptrap. Her sermon last night was like a series of progressive beatitudes:  Blessed are they who support ObamaCare, for they are not racist. Blessed are the communists, Marxists, socialists, progressives, and collectivists of all stripes, for they are smarter than everyone else. Blessed is the Cuban medical system, because progressives say so.

According to the congresswoman–and no, I’m not making any of this up–the president of the United States does not only represent the nation, he is the nation. Ergo, if his policies fail, the nation fails. And, as the good congresswoman rhetorically reminded those in attendance last night, nobody wants “a failed state called ‘the United States,'” do they?

Therefore, it follows that anyone who does want to see the president’s policies fail must have some other dastardly and illogical and hateful motive for his position. (Revs. Sharpton & Jackson: if you’re reading this, yes, you guessed correctly–but don’t tell the rest of the congregation.)

Racism! That’s “the bottom line,” according to Rep. Watson. Anyone with the audacity to raise concerns regarding H.R. 3200 is a big, fat racist. Watson, a person of color, said last night that those who oppose ObamaCare “are spreading fear, and they are trying to see that the first president–who looks like me–fails.” If you don’t like what the president is selling, you hate black people. So sayeth the congresswoman.

How in the world can someone come to such an outlandish conclusion, you may ask? It’s simple: the success of the so-called “black community” is wholly dependent upon the success of the Obama presidency. Watson put it this way last night: “We want [President Obama] to succeed because when he succeeds we regain our status.”

Wow! That makes perfect sense, because individuals of color can’t possibly succeed on their own merits, now can they? “The One”–who is America made flesh–must succeed in order to bring prosperity and tranquility to people of color. Anything less spells doom.

Disgusting.

Watson didn’t stop there, though. She went on to praise the Cuban health care system, exhorting her constituents to “go down there and see what Fidel Castro put in place.” That’s an easy request for the congresswoman to make, because she knows that her constituents can’t get to Cuba and must therefore take her word for it. And she would never mislead her constituents, now would she?

I direct your attention to Martin Luther King Jr./Drew hospital in south central Los Angeles, where more than a few poor souls died (one could argue “were killed” would be more appropriate) from negligent care or lack of any care at all. A perfect example of failed state-subsidized health care, Diane Watson nevertheless fought hard to keep “Killer King” hospital open, saying, “If we let it go, we are all guilty and the blood of those who die will be on our hands.”

You see, according to the gospel of statism reality doesn’t matter. Utopian visions of heaven on earth always trump the hard, cold truth. That’s why Watson could say to her constituents last night without the merest hint of irony or sarcasm, “You can think whatever you want of Fidel Castro, but he was one of the brightest leaders I have ever met.” In other words, Castro is a man of great vision, with a sincere and compassionate desire to bring about an egalitarian utopia where equality of result is the law of the land. It matters little how much blood is spilled or how much freedom is denied; all that matters is the utopian dream.

Watson finished her praise of Fidel Castro–as any former elementary school teacher turned collectivist preacher would–with a brief history of post-revolutionary Cuba: “The Cuban Revolution, that kicked out the wealthy–Che Guevara did that–and then after they took over they went out among the population to find someone who could lead this new nation, and they found…an attorney by the name of Fidel Castro.”

Dr. King’s not the only one who had a dream. Diane Watson has one, too. The congresswoman apparently dreams of a time when the wealthy will be brought to their knees by bloodthirsty leftist dilletantes who pander to the disenfranchised–and a lawyer shall lead them.

Pardon me if I let the collection plate pass me by.

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You say “economic justice,” I say “extortion”–let’s call the whole thing off

While drinking my morning joe I came across the following article, courtesy of the American Thinker:

Extort thy neighbor, or how to ruin a nation

The author of the piece, Gary Horne, provides a clear and concise analysis of what he feels is at the root of our current national dilemma: a collectivist mindset.  This topic is something which I have written about myself on many occasions, and I am in complete agreement with Mr. Horne’s assertions.  Check out the article if you get the chance.

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Fighting for a slice

Here’s a terrific blog post by Shannon Love on ChicagoBoyz.net, who describes how universal healthcare would ultimately create class warfare between groups that under the current system have no need to compete for health care resources:

The Dangers of Decompartmentalized Health Care Spending

In a nutshell, she argues that the current system’s compartmentalization of health care through Medicare (for the elderly), Medicaid (for the poor), and private insurance (for everybody else) keeps us from having to compete with one another for delivery of services.  With universal health care, it all becomes one big limited resource pie and each group will  have to fight for a slice–particularly the elderly, who have the most health care expenditures.

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Who says there are no more good (conservative) ideas?

I’ve recently read in various places and heard from various people comments like this: “Those right-wing wacko nutjobs are so out of touch. They’re just sore because they lost and we won and now they’ll do anything to stop health care reform out of spite. They keep screaming “No! No! No!” because they don’t have any ideas themselves. Morons.”

Au contraire, mon frere.

What so many people from all walks of life are riled up about is that the current proposal is a recipe for complete nationalization of the health care industry over time. Furthermore, they’re upset because many very good ideas that have been presented a la carte have been subsequently rejected out of hand by the current administration without any formal debate.

Here’s a link to an excellent op-ed piece by John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods Market, that outlines a number of very sound proposals that I think many Americans could agree on. What’s more, Mackey’s proposals don’t involve a complete government takeover of American health care.

Take a look: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

On another note, take a look at the “Quote of the moment.” It very succinctly explains why Big Insurance and Big Pharma, so stridently villified by progressives, are falling over themselves to lend support to H.R. 3200 at town halls across the country right now.

Big Insurance loves the idea of mandatory coverage for all Americans. Big Pharma loves the idea of having a hundred million more customers for their drugs courtesy of the federal government.

The next time you hear someone say, “a public option will keep the insurance companies honest,” or , “universal health care will level the playing field against pharmaceutical companies,” ask them why these big bad health care entities have climbed aboard the ObamaCare train if it’s going to make life so hard on them.

Ironically, any short-term gains private insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies receive from passage of H.R. 3200 will eventually be wiped out. It may take twenty years–so sayeth the president himself–but in the end everyone but the political class will lose. That includes Big Insurance and Big Pharma.

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I just got back from a town hall forum (and all I got was this lousy rhetoric)

On Tuesday night I performed my civic duty and attended the town hall forum in my congressional district:  Adam Schiff’s (D-Ca.) 29th, home of the fiscally responsible Blue Dog Democrat who never met a spending bill he didn’t like. 

I had never been to a town hall meeting before, and was looking forward to the opportunity of asking my congressman questions about H.R. 3200 and his stance on the health care reform bill.  I had seen town hall meetings on TV and attended a meeting of my local city council before, and assumed Congressman Schiff’s town hall forum would present the perfect opportunity for me to get a moment’s access to my representative. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

Originally slated for a small auditorium inside the Alhambra Civic Center Library, the event’s organizers decided to move the forum to the plaza outside in order to accommodate the large crowd they anticipated.  This was a smart move for two reasons:  they could paper the audience with supporters while maintaining plausible deniability, and it provided a built-in excuse for manipulating the event to favor the bill. 

Click here to see general crowd scenes, Congressman Schiff’s mixed reception, and to see a very uncomfortable member of the House of Representatives. 

In other words, the event was political theatre.  Aside from the entertainment provided by people in the crowd on both sides of the issue, through colorful signs (“Tax the Rich!  Children are Dying!”) and more colorful chants (“Bull****!”), the forum was little more than an H.R. 3200 infomercial.  There was a lot of rhetoric, but very little substance—and almost no debate. 

The event began in earnest when Congressman Schiff presented a stilted Tale of Two Cities argument, offering the crowd two choices:  health plan “A,” with skyrocketing premiums, arbitrary denials of coverage, and discriminatory pricing for women (yes, he said that), and health plan “B,” which would be cheaper, cover everything, and increase life expectancy (he didn’t say it outright, but he inferred it). 

Of course, plan “A” was the dreaded “status quo.”  He then launched into a list of dubious statistics exaggerated for effect (50 million uninsured, 50 million more underinsured, two-thirds of bankruptcies and one-half of foreclosures result from expensive health care).  Finally, before turning things over to a panel, he cited out-of-context and unadjusted infant mortality and life expectancy figures as proof that the dreaded status quo would eventually put us all in a pauper’s grave. 

The members of the panel—representing a large insurance company, an insurance company specializing in senior care, a pediatric hospital, and a consumer watchdog organization, respectively—spent their time droning on about changing the focus of the health care system to “care delivery outcomes,” “coordination of care,” and “preventive care.”  Some of the brilliant ideas presented by the panel (sarcasm very much intended):  getting health care to people “before something bad happens to them;” paying for “outcomes, not for volume;” cutting costs and expanding delivery by “increasing efficiencies.”  One panelist even suggested that Medicare could be financed completely by increasing efficiencies.  Ah, Utopia! 

And of course, they all had anecdotal tales of sorrow and woe about big, bad insurance companies leaving the elderly and children to die in the streets because they have “no access” to health insurance.  One panelist went so far as to say that under the dreaded status quo most children with chronic diseases will “age out” of their current coverage and have “no access” to either health care or their futures, and that eventually many other children without such diseases will also “lose access.” 

Apparently I missed the part where the plethora of entitlements in place for such circumstances was repealed.  Malarkey! 

As I said earlier, the forum was an infomercial.  And in that spirit:  But wait!  There’s more! 

After the panel finished putting everyone to sleep (except for those in the crowd shouting, “Get to the questions!”), the moderator pontificated for ten minutes on the virtues of H.R. 3200, making sure to include the phrase “I’m sure we can all agree” every other sentence because it apparently makes any statement true. 

Finally, the moment of truth arrived.  Sort of.  The Q&A period began, with the moderator alternating between supposedly pre-submitted questions from constituents and shouted questions from people in the crowd.  Considering that the moderator could only hear the questions shouted from those closest to the stage, and considering that a large contingency from Organize for America got there early and planted themselves front and center, it’s a safe bet that most of the questions from the crowd were from the choir rather than the congregation. 

Click here to hear the congressman’s brilliant answer to the following question:  “The government is already running Medicare and the Post Office and losing money.  Why do you think adding 45 million more insured will help us save money?” 

(In fairness to the moderator, he did make attempts to engage people to the sides and rear of the crowd, but he had such a hard time hearing them that inevitably their questions were paraphrased into softballs like this:  “What will be the difference between health care now and health care under H.R. 3200?”  The answer was something along the lines of, “None.  Next question.”)  

Even with the manipulated Q&A portion of the event, however, Congressman Schiff made some very interesting points that are worth mentioning—but not for reasons the congressman himself might think. 

When questioned by a pregnant woman who was afraid she’d be forced into the public option if she quit her job to raise her kids, thereby losing her employer-based plan, Rep. Schiff assured her that she would not be compelled to enroll in the government plan.  Fair enough, and true in theory.  However, when the consumer watchdog panelist chimed in to support the congressman’s statement, he made the mistake of mentioning that H.R. 3200 makes health insurance mandatory.  Which means that the new mother who just quit her job to raise her kids has three choices:  get an expensive individual plan, enroll in the public option, or get nailed with hefty fines until she’s insured.  Which do you think she’ll choose? 

Click here to see the congressman’s answer to the woman’s question for yourself—and the crowd’s opinion of his answer. 

I’d now like to address those of you who just started screaming at your computer monitors, “The public option will make individual insurance cheaper by keeping insurance companies honest, moron!”  You are wrong.  And I’ve got Congressman Schiff’s own words to prove it: 

The more people enroll in the [public option], the greater the government’s purchasing power. 

That’s how insurance works, by diversifying risk.  Everyone gets sick and everyone dies.  In other words, everyone’s a risk.  An insurance company—including the government when they’re in the health insurance business—enrolls as many currently healthy people as it can and collects premiums from them in order to pay the medical costs of those who later become sick.  The more people in the plan, the more diversified the risk and the lower the premiums. 

The government’s purchasing power is only limited by the amount of money it can print, the taxes it can levy, and its military might.  Private insurance companies simply can’t compete on equal footing with government power—and don’t give me the broken FedEx vs. USPS analogy, because postal delivery has little to do with diversification of risk. 

As more people enroll in the public option, the government’s ability to engage in predatory pricing will increase.  As private insurance plans lose members to the public option, they will have no choice but to increase premiums or reduce coverage in order to continue diversifying risk and still remain solvent.  As private insurance premiums rise, their number of insured will drop as still more individuals opt for the public option with its taxpayer-subsidized premiums. 

Still not convinced?  What do you think then-Senator Obama was referring to in 2003 and 2007 when he said he’d “like to see” a “single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan,” that it might be “a decade out, or fifteen years out, or twenty years out” but the goal is to “eliminate employer coverage”?  The plan is quite simple:  (1) make health insurance coverage mandatory; (2) give employers a profitable out by providing a public option; (3) slowly price individual insurance companies out of business, thereby driving everyone into the public option with the coercive power of government.  

One of the things that has so many people furious with Congress and the White House is the ridiculous doublespeak they spew forth on a daily basis.  It’s like being in a relationship with a pathological liar, who one moment says “A is B” and then turns around and says “I never said ‘A is B.’ How preposterous.  Of course I said ‘A is A.’”  It’s crazy-making. 

Which is why I found it so refreshing when, near the end of the big District 29 health care “reformapalooza,” Congressman Adam Schiff stepped up to the microphone and said that the cost to implement H.R. 3200 will be one trillion dollars over ten years, half of which will be paid for by savings through efficiencies, the rest “by taxing the wealthiest Americans.” 

Raising taxes?  Now there’s some fiscally responsible Blue Dog truth-telling I can believe.

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