Wednesday, May 19, 2010

General Politics

Are Republicans and Democrats all that different? Interestingly, no. They both stem from the Democratic-Republican party of the early 19th century. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President, but by today's standards, he would be a Democrat. Let us not forget that both the most basic American ideal is limited government controlled by the people. Recently, major disagreements have gotten extremely heated, like the issues of socialized medicine and government sactioned morality (gay marriage, abortion, sex ed, etc). It is important to note that people within both parties disagree on these key issues. In my opinion, government has no right to dictate morality, but it DOES have the responsibility to make sure that every American is taken care of.

And then arose the Tea Party (yes, it's time for a brief rant)... an ultra right-wing faction of the Republican party that threatens our government with violence, which began because of health care reform. Here is a group of people protesting legislation that makes health care more affordable and makes it harder for insurance companies to cancel or deny coverage. Here is a group of people, many of whom live off Social Security and medicare, use public transportation to travel to protest in public parks while calling for government to stay out of their lives (yet demanding that abortion and gay marriage be outlawed) and abolish "socialism" and government-run health care. Icons of the Tea Party, including Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachmann and Eric Cantor not only support "taking up arms" against the federal government, but blatantly lie and deceive in order to do nothing more than increase their own publicity and further their careers. The point here is simple: should some extremist within the Tea Party lash out violently against the government (and it probably will happen), what should the consequences be and whom should the American public hold accountable? While I fully support the First Amendment rights of these people, the Tea Party is blurring the line between peaceful assembly and, for lack of a better term, a political cult... and that's without even touching on what I call the "God Factor."

Sadly, many of the ideals of our Founding Fathers have been lost and in some ways, reversed. We have surrendered freedoms in the name of freedom, and as Benjamin Franklin so wisely stated, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security deserve neither and lose both." We have invaded countries in the name of freedom. We continue to allow persecution of certain groups of people IN the United States: people who are hard working, productive, honest, and kind, and who only want to live their lives in peace. Perhaps one of the most chilling predictions from Benjamin Franklin seems to be unfolding, "This is likely to be administered for a course of years and then end in despotism ... when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other." How true these words are.

I implore you, President Obama, to live up to your promise of true reform. Do not let political climate clout your judgement or force you to abandon your core beliefs. It is time to the end these wars. It is time to reform and improve our education system. It is time to ensure that every American citizen has access to quality, affordable medical care. It is time to stop partisan politics. It is time to stop bailing out banks and multi-national corporations using tax-payer dollars. It is time to reclaim energy independence. It is time, sir, to take care of the people.


  1. I'm Curious, you really not notice the hypocrisy of your post? You go on about the importance of giving up our freedom to choose whether or not to be consumers in the insurance market so society can have better health security, and then you dare quote Franklin: "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security deserve neither and lose both." It's hypocritical to agree with his premise to suit your agenda, and then disagree with it when it doesn't.

    The Tea Party might be a little crazy, but on health care, they're right. This so-called "reform" isn't. The bill has nothing to do with healthcare, it has to do with insurance. And contrary to the myth you've supported, the new law will not make healthcare "affordable." Indeed, insurance will become more expensive. Most supporters of the bill acknowledge this. The ONLY cost decrease will be out-of-pocket expenses at the time of treatment.

    Unfortunately, one cost-saving does not equate to an overall cost-saving. To make that possible, premiums will be going up. When this system took effect in Massachussetts, that's exactly what happened. Insurance companies can't afford to pay out more for treatment without increasing rates; it's a logical necessity that can't be avoided.

    And by adding people with pre-existing conditions, rates will necessary have to go even higher. These are people who will need regular treatment--rather than contributing to the insurance, they'll be making other people subsidize them. There is no way premiums will stay at the same levels or decrease in these circumstances.

    Why should I, someone who can't afford insurance, be forced by the government to subsidize from my pocket, someone else who can't get insurance? I can't afford an apartment or a home of my own, or food--my family takes care of that--yet I'd be expected to buy insurance? That's ridiculous, there are more important things that have to come first.

    The end result is that insurance is LESS affordable. And those who can't afford it are told to buy it anyway or be penalized with a fine. Or take a hand-out. For me, that's a choice between going broke and taking something I haven't earned. That is wrong on maany levels, and personally, I won't be complying--if those are my choices I'll deal with the consequences of not paying the fine.

    Additionally, the mandate is unconstitutional. The government cannot tell its citizens they must engage in commerce. I'm not a consumer in the insurance market. The government cannot regulate my behavior in that market if I'm not in the market. Any suggestion otherwise requires reading the Constitution with a Sharpie. I refuse to allow my rights to be violted in this way, and it's insulting that you give lip service to the Constitution while telling me I should give up this liberty. The Constitution isn't meant to be ignored when it doesn't suit your agenda--your view here is exactly what's wrong with both democrats and republicans.

  2. And one more point... where were all these protests about constitutional violations when Bush was wiretapping without warrants, suspending Habeus Corpus and limiting freedom of speech when said speech was against his policy (his "free speech zones")? Where were these people when Bush was using his religion as a foreign policy? So... change in healthcare makes Obama evil, but completely ignoring our Constitution in numerous conspicuous ways makes Bush... what?

  3. There is no hypocrisy in my statement. I believe health insurance should be provided to every American, and as such, does not require a surrendering of freedoms. I believe that if the US is to remain a true, modern country, that health insurance should be universal, as it is in every other industrial nation on Earth. Heck, even Cuba has free health care. The ONLY reason we have private insurance in this country is because our politicians are bought out by corporate lobbyists. It's the same reason we're still burning fossil fuels and the same reason that pot is illegal. It's not that we CAN'T do these things, it's that we WON'T, and while I can empathize with the anti-incumbency fever that is brewing, I certainly can't support putting back into office the same people who got us into this whole economic mess. And remember, for those who criticize Obama for not having perfected the economy yet, it took 8 years to get us here. It's going to take more than a year and a half to get us back on track.

  4. First of all, I'll point you to the cliche about assuming things--you've proven the meaning behind it to be true. I was as against Bush as any other rational person was. Just because I disapprove of Obama doesn't mean I was for Bush.

    ...on the contrary, if Democrats and Republicans started basing their ideas on what they truly believe and on logic, and not on what their party tells them to believe, public opinion would be very different about Obama. When you protest Bush and support Obama (and support Bush and protest Obama) you're being dishonest--you're engaged in one of the highest levels of intellectual dishonesty.

    Bush and Obama do not have radically different policies. In fact, those very issues you just ranted on are policies that Obama has continued! He promised to remove troops from the war zones...and then proceeded to give us the same timeline Bush agreed was reasonable. He promised to close Guantanimo, but is still dragging his heals on it. And he certainly has not made any steps to overturn the offensive provisions of the so-called PATRIOT ACT.

    If one looks at Obama's policies and what he's done in office instead of listening to his slimy rhetoric, one gets basically the same picture we had before. To rave about a president because he's from your party and rant about another president because he's from another party despite their policies being the same is the height of dishonesty.

  5. Secondly, why would you suggest that having an honest belief precludes hypocrisy? You ARE being hypocritical.

    You state that you agree with the notion that liberty is more valuable than security when it suits you--in cases where there's a foreign threat. That's all well and good--personally, I agree, I think the wiretapping provisions among other things from the PATRIOT ACT are abominations--but you've abandoned that ideal when it goes against your own agenda.

    As it stands, I have the freedom to not engage in a market--I can decide not to be a consumer in one industry, and that is my right, a freedom I'm afforded as an American. You've suggested that I should be obliged to give up that right, that freedom, that liberty, so that society may have greater security of health.

    That liberty might not be important to you, but it is a liberty that we have. Suggesting that we should give up that liberty so that we can have greater security of health runs contrary to your belief about liberty being more valuable than security. You believe this value is important, and yet you also believe this value is irrelevant--that is, by definition, hypocrisy. A value is either important to you or not, you can't have it both ways.

    I'd add that if your idea of "modern" is socialized/universal healthcare, then you might want to do some more research. Our "archaic" system is one of the best in the world. The UK's system is especially poor at handling trauma; their survival rates from things such as car accidents are significantly higher than in the US, which is leading them to create a system of trauma hospitals to augment their regular hospitals.

    Canada fares pretty poorly too. When universal healthcare was instated, they were hit with a severe doctor shortage--which even Obama admits will probably happen here as well because of his bill. It's especially bad in Toronto, and in some parts of Canada, is compounded by nurse shortages. Those who can afford it come to the US for care because our system is so good. Additionally, many routine tests can have months-long waiting lists! It's worse for surgery.

    And France isn't much better, either. The average worker pays 20% of their gross income into the system!

    And not one of those systems is sustainable on a long-term basis--they will implode, eventually.

    Since you railed against lobbying, I'd also like to point out that lobbying is what allowed the insurance (healthcare) law to become what it is, instead of something that actually addresses healthcare costs. The drug industry lobbied heavily to avoid having to take responsibility for their high costs...and so they were relatively ignored.

    You speak as if being bought by lobbyist is bad--so where's your outrage at Obama and the congressional Democrats for being bought by lobbyists?

    "It's only bad when Republicans do it" brings us back to my point about intellectual dishonesty--you don't care how slimy your party is because they've told you to ignore their own ooze...even though it's the same thing you oppose in others. That's another example of hypocrisy, and as long as you remain dishonest, you have no credibility. Lucky for you, that implies a bright, full career ahead in politics, where checking your integrity and honesty at the door is a must.

    The current so-called reform is only going to hurt us, the people. It takes away one of our liberties, it increases costs to those who need care, it will make healthcare less available to those who need it...and it came about because Obama and congress are corrupt, bought by the drug industry. To truly, honestly support this is ridiculous.

  6. First, I never said "it's only bad when Republicans do it." I said politicians need to stop being bought out or they need to be removed from office. Second, to quote you, I'd add that if your idea of "modern" is socialized/universal healthcare, then you might want to do some more research. Our "archaic" system is one of the best in the world. The UK's system is especially poor at handling trauma; their survival rates from things such as car accidents are significantly higher than in the US, which is leading them to create a system of trauma hospitals to augment their regular hospitals."

    If our system was really that wonderful, people wouldn't be losing their homes to pay for medical debts. What's the first thing asked of patients in doctor's offices? Do you have insurance, not "what's wrong?" It's sickening. I COMPLETELY agree with you that everyone has the right to choose in which markets they spend their money, which is why I believe health insurance should be provided as a right, not as a consumable, and should certainly not be a for-profit industry. All it does is hurt people and impede what doctors can do for their patients.

    Furthermore, I have clearly criticized both political parties, and there are posts coming in which I will give my 2 cents on some of the things Obama is doing, so we are in agreement there. But I have not and will not play party politics (even though I admit, yes, I've mentioned the word Republican a few times). I state issues and express my opinion, nothing more.

    Thanks for commenting, I look forward to your response.

  7. Oh, and one other thing... the current health care reform sucks compared to what many of us were hoping for (and while I'm glad it expands coverage, I'm not happy about all the caving-in from the Dems).

    Oh, and I really appreciate your endorsement. :)

  8. You never made the statement, but that's how your post reads: the issues you're upset about involve Republicans at fault, yet you support the same political slimery when it benefited your party. You don't need to state that you have a double standard to show that you do.

    Don't you think your complaint of what happens in the doctor's office is at least a little...misguided? The first questions are always administrative because you're talking with the secretary, not a doctor. They need to know who you are and what rate to charge you before you can get services. Even if everyone had insurance, the first question couldn't possibly be, "What's wrong?" It'll probably be, "fill out this form...and this redundant form for red tape measures, and this other redundant form...and...." Under any system, "what's wrong" won't be asked until you actually see the doctor. ...assuming you can see one in a system that will create a doctor shortage. But I guess not being asked at all is better than being asked later...

    Health insurance is not a right. As defined by our Constitution, a right is something you're born with, something you would have regardless of government interference. If there were no government interference, any doctor could turn you down if you didn't have the means to pay. Therefore, it is impossible to be called a right without Constitutionally redesigning what a right is. Insurance is a service like any other, and our system of government guarantees the right of such businesses to make a profit.

  9. I agree, though, that there is a problem with healthcare costs. It's not insurance that's the problem, though: they are, afterall, the ones helping people afford the excessive costs of medical care, so why should they be punished for that? I would say the largest culprit is the drug and equipment industries. They subsidize their research with our tax money, then they sell to our hospitals and doctors at ridiculous prices, then turn around and offer huge discounts to poorer countries, and just about anyone else.

    Our taxes subsidized the research, our doctors and hospitals should be the ones getting it at discount rates! If THAT were a legal requirement, that the ones paying the greatest to subsidize the products should get the lowest price, the cost of healthcare would drop by a lot. It is ridiculous that a bottle of pills can cost over $1,000 here, and yet the same bottle can be purchased for less than $100 elsewhere. And that pales in comparison to diagnostic equipment costs.

    Also keep in mind that there are many options for people without insurance--losing a home is an extreme case. I do not have insurance--I can't afford it now, and I certainly won't be able to when Obama's law forces the rates higher--but I have needed some medical services. I had a granuloma on my neck that popped and my collar kept forcing it open and causing it to bleed. When I told the nurses at the local dermatologist's office that I didn't have insurance, they spoke with the doctor on my behalf and agreed to charge only the office visit fee, and not the additional charge for the procedure to remove it. A local GP also charges those without insurance the same rate he charges Medicare. Some hospitals are willing to offer services for free to those who can't afford it if you talk with them ahead of time. And a vast majority of doctors and hospitals are more than willing to setup financing options so that paying for care isn't such a burden that you could lose your home.

    And that doesn't even factor in help that many charities offer. In our system, those who need care CAN get care, and don't have to lose their homes over it. In Canada, and elsewhere with socialized medicine, not everyone who needs care can even get it at all. Those who can afford to skip the queues come here to the US for care.

    I want to see real reform--costs need to come down. I will not accept any reform that comes at the expense of my liberty. This new law is more of an insurance law than a healthcare law, and it does nothing to address the costs of either healthcare or insurance. The new law boils down to this, "We're going to help those of you who can't afford insurance by jacking up rates and forcing you to buy it under penalty of a fine. No longer will anyone need to choose between healthcare and food--we've chosen healthcare for you, food's less important." That's not a good thing, that's not an acceptable thing, that's not a valid action by our Constitutional government. That's not even reform! The bill doesn't just miss the mark, it causes all sorts of collateral damage on the way.

  10. I agree with you about decreasing costs... and you make an interesting point regarding rights. If they are truly something with which we are born, think about this. Are we born with guns? No, but we can own them. Are we born with a religion? No, but we can freely practice one. I could go on, and I'll clarify my point. In this country, we have the inalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The right to life, in my view, includes the right to survive, which in turn means that everyone has the right to medical care as a means of staying alive. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

    Health insurance should not be a for-profit industry, because it leads to issues such as people having coverage denied due to pre-existing conditions over which they have no control, as well as policies being terminated once a client gets sick, despite having paid into the system for years and years. Under our system yes, insurance companies are SUPPOSED to provide a service, however, their OBJECTIVE is to make money, not to help people, and that's a huge problem. Health insurance should not be for-profit. You had some good reasons why costs are so high, but let's face it, they're high because companies can charge whatever they want. They're high because of greed. Interestingly, our local utility company has been investigated for jacking up prices for no apparent reason... it's really sad when your heat costs more than your mortgage, and it's downright wrong that people should have to choose between their homes and their health.

    Which brings me to my next point... personal accountability. If we had a decent education system, that taught people at a young age the value of eating healthy and regular exercise, we wouldn't have nearly as many health problems and cost issues as we do today. People need to know how to take care of themselves, and as someone who works in the fitness industry, I can tell you it's astonishing how little people know about being healthy, and I'm talking about intelligent, highly-educated individuals... more on this subject coming soon.

  11. You might want to rethink your argument about rights--it's convoluted.Your arguments about guns and religion are the same as suggesting that a person only has the right to free speech once they have ideas to speak--no, the right exists at birth, whether it's exercised or not. You're not born with ideas to express, but you are born with the right to express those ideas when you do have them.

    An obvious example is property. You have a right to own property. That doesn't mean you are born with property, it doesn't mean you are born with an entitlement to "things." It means that once you pay for property, it is your right to have it. You are born with the right, you are not necessarily born with the ability to immediately exercise it.

    A right is something that exists at birth, separate from government interference. A right is a freedom you would have in a world without government (the founders referred to it as The State of Nature). Anything that requires government or institutional interference is, by definition, incapable of being a right.

    In a state of nature, all people would have to pay those skilled in healthcare, or simply not receive the benefit of those skills. The only way to offer healthcare to all is through government regulation. By definition, healthcare cannot be a right.

    I would point out, also, that you are necessarily incorrect that the right to life includes the right to survival. There are conditions that cannot be cured, and there are natural disasters that can snatch one's survival away at a moment's notice. In such instances, one cannot survive--saying there is a right to do so is futile because it's not true. The right to life is merely the right to not have your life terminated without due process by the government, and that the government must protect your from murder. Nothing more--anything more is impossible, and certainly never intended by the founders.

  12. You still haven't presented a valid reason that a perfectly legitimate industry should be forced by the government to be non-profit. They might be arguments for industry regulation, but certainly not for destroying the capitalist values this country was founded upon. If someone wishes to make a non-profit insurance company, that is their right; if someone wishes to make a for-profit insurance company, that too is their right. These businesses have a right to exist and operate the same way any other business does. You may not like it, but you not liking it does not constitute a legitimate reason to revoke their right to be a business.

    They, and any other business, have a right to make a profit--to pursue their, their employees, their owners, their shareholders right to the money they've earned. And make no mistake: if they didn't earn it, no one would be paying for the service.

    Though once again, it bears noting that the "greed" you have a problem with isn't coming from the insurance companies. They have to bring in enough money to pay their expenditures--both healthcare costs, and administrative costs. If they don't make enough money to do that, they won't be in business any longer. If their rates are too high, it's because their expenditures are too high. One look at medicine and equipment costs makes it obvious what the problem is. Insurance will never be widely affordable if those costs don't go down. That's NOT the fault of the insurance company in any way whatsoever.

    As for education...that's a pet peeve of mine in general. Those thing ARE being taught. The problem is that they're being taught in such a way that students are turned off to learning those things...or take a different lesson from it than the intended one. The "what" isn't the problem, it's the "how."

    Gym is still a requirement in all schools. In NJ, high school students must take gym every year, and despite the common myth, there are federal programs that states are part of. Presidential Physical Fitness testing was around long before I even entered elementary school, and is still common practice.

    Health education and compulsory exercise are the status quo--obesity isn't a problem because these things aren't being taught, obesity is a problem, in many cases, because these things ARE being taught...wrong.

    Gym class was easily the biggest reason I didn't enjoy physical activity and avoided it until I got to college. I was forced to play stupid games I hated, like "Wally Ball" and some stupid soccer variant in the same vein. I was taught that these things are exercise, and that exercise is important. I hated the games, so what I learned was that exercise is bad...and that since I was getting it in school I was getting enough.

    Similarly, health education is taught in a way that suggests one should have a perfect diet. Any good dietitian will tell you that that's the fastest way for the message to fail. Diet improvement should come in tiny steps, and start with only those things a person is willing to change. And, perfection need not be the goal, otherwise the bar will always be out of reach and discourage those who try and continue to fail. If you push too hard, too fast, and in areas that a person is not willing to change, then the message will never succeed.

  13. First, I never said government should force health insurance to be non-profit. In fact, I said they DO have a right to make a profit, but I disagree with it being a for-profit industry.

    I like your points regarding education and I agree, and there is a huge problem with how physical education is taught (as you mentioned, gym class sucks). As far as nutrition goes, we are briefly taught some snippets regarding the food pyramid (useless, in my opinion). We are not taught, however, how to make healthy living decisions or the benefit of doing so. See? I knew we'd agree on something :).

  14. get the fuck over it people.

  15. See it's that attitude that causes the problems we have. Apathy hurts us all.