In response to both David Quintana and Danny Doyle who had letters printed in the last edition of The Wave (4/30/10), I would like to offer a counter-argument to their support of President Obama’s new Healthcare Reform bill and the recent spending by this administration.
When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt first ventured to propose a New Deal with America in the midst of the Great Depression, he himself was conflicted with the idea of a society moving away from the foundations on which it was built; one of strong individuality and small government. Our third President, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and a man of genius, had these prescient words to say about the role of government in American society: “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
Jefferson’s famous words regarding the danger of an intrusive government at odds with the individual spirit were no doubt familiar to the 32nd president when he made this telling statement in 1935:
“Continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.”
We have come a long way as a people from that time but the basic ideas of governance are still being debated. This is lost in much of the rancor surrounding the “Left” and “Right” sides of the debate, the understanding that in providing more entitlements for the citizen, the government is simultaneously depriving the populous of some measure of free will. Some would argue that this is a necessary first step towards a more intrusive form of government. One in which the uncertainty of a free society is traded in for the more secure and decidedly less free society. We were reminded of this just recently in Canada where conservative American commentator Ann Coulter was warned away from giving a speech at a university by a government minister with threats of “penalties” for violations of their speech code (Canada has a generous entitlement structure as well as a much more limited idea of free speech). In Great Britain another conservative American commentator, Dr. Michael Savage, was recently placed on a list of “banned” individuals which included mass murderers and known Islamic terrorists. Bear in mind that this talk show host has never been convicted or even indicted of a crime. In fact, he hosts one of the nation’s most popular radio talk shows.
Both Great Britain and Canada have a nationalized healthcare system. Castro’s Cuba and Venezuela’s Chavez pride themselves on having a nationalized healthcare system, even as they jail television station operators for voicing opinions which run counter to the official party line. This is no coincidence as it is well understood that control of a nation’s healthcare sector not only places a large percentage of the economy (17% in the USA) beneath the thumb of the greater government but also places into government hands, the decision making power of large scale health policy. For example, the hefty taxation currently levied on cigarette smokers could be replaced by an outright ban on smoking as it has an adverse and costly effect on long term healthcare costs, the same could be said for food high in saturated fats, like doughnuts, following this same line of reasoning. These examples illustrate once again, how individual freedom of choice can be traded for greater “security” of mind in terms of healthcare coverage.
More directly, the government will have the power to enforce mandates on covered services such as heart transplants, based on economic cost saving factors since medicine is a finite resource. This is also known as rationing.
The Obama healthcare bill was initiated on two major false premises
Letters and pushed through by an administration with a cynical use of moral authority. After all, how could any decent person object to covering their fellow citizen who is uninsured? This is a gross distortion of the facts however, since the current laws prohibit hospitals from turning away an individual who presents to the emergency room for treatment and anyone meeting federal poverty guidelines is already eligible for free medical care. This leads to the false premises on which this bill was sold to the public; first that we were in a healthcare “crisis” at all. Polls show that a large majority of the 89 percent of Amer-icans who are currently covered by insurance are, in fact, happy with their coverage and although there are anecdotal stories of problems within the system, there have been no wide scale shortages in access to healthcare in the country. Second, the idea that there are 47 million uninsured Amercicans. In fact this number has now been reduced to 30 million by the president while analysis of census data by the Heritage foundation puts the actual number at closer to 15 million, 1/3 the number originally touted and hardly a cause for a wholesale restructuring of 1/6 of the economy and our entire medical delivery system.
Next comes the question of cost the importance of which cannot be overstated. This nation has Debt/GDP ratios approaching unsustainable levels according to the Congressional Budget Office. What happens when a nation’s debt exceeds its gross domestic product? The economy lurches towards collapse, as we have recently seen in Greece where the European Union had to step in to prevent complete failure. Who will come in to assist the USA when that time comes? The Obama Healthcare bill was touted as a cost saver when the Congressional Budget Office stated that it would end up saving 138 billion over the next 10 years. What the CBO could not factor in was the looming $250 billion cost of the “Doctor Fix” bill which both Democrats and Republicans agree must be signed in order to prevent the large scale exodus of doctors out of Medicare and Medicaid. Basic math tells us that the sum of the gains from the healthcare bill and the losses from the doctor fix bill result in a loss of over $100 billion which we simply do not have to loose. Not to mention the fact that cost estimates on entitlement projects on this massive a scale have always ended up being a financial drain on the nation as a whole. Medicare is set to become insolvent in 2017 and Social Security by 2035.
Furthermore, this bill gained no support from the opposing party. Not a single Republican was convinced to vote on this bill, either from the Senate or the House of Representatives. In the House, in fact, there were dozens of Democrats who stood against this bill as well. No project on this scale has ever been passed unilaterally by Congress. No, instead, the best the Democrats could do was attempt to smear fellow Americans with the label “racist” for daring to shout out against the bill while a grinning Nancy Pelosi lead a stern faced group of gullible representatives to the Capitol Building in a cynical attempt to attach “civil rights” significance to the bill. The bill was passed in a suspect manner as well with the Congress held over in an “emergency” session until the vote was held. They were not allowed to go home to hear from their constituents and tend to their phones which were ringing with popular dissent. The bill was passed using deplorable tactics and outright bribes that sent waves of revolt through entire states in a visceral rejection of the third world type payoffs doled out like so many party favors. It is a telling omen for the future that the bill was passed by this administration against a majority opposition of Americans and bipartisan opposition in our House of Representatives.
It may go down as a turning point in American history as an example of how far the federal government, pushed by a tone deaf administration, can stretch the Constitution to fit its own agenda and cover for a fundamental lack of fiscal responsibility. Instead of standing on the shoulders of giants like Jefferson and Roosevelt, it seems this administration would rather dig a giant hole and wait for the inevitable cave-in.