Health


Please, say a prayer for those who live with cancer, and also pray for those who will not get this scourge because of the benefits of worldwide cancer research. Finally, pray for the souls of the countless people who have lost hard-fought battles with this unfair and persistent adversary.

Dear God, I pray for a cure for cancer.  Amen

Rest in peace Rick, my brother…cancer took you away from us far too soon..

The FDA has announced that as a part of our new nanny state that they will more vigorously look after our collective health by regulating the amount of sodium contained in prepared foods. That’s right…seemingly we individual Americans can be only trusted to vote without verification or regulation, but when it comes to anything else, including eating, we need the help and guidance of a benevolent government to get things right.

You know what? Leave my damn salt alone. And that goes for my sugar too! I’m a big boy now…I can dress myself and earn an honest living — I even read and write on my own, so why can’t I be expected to make the right decisions regarding my life — including the consumption of minerals, seasonings and sweeteners?

I can, and dammit, I will!

Personally, I don’t use salt, and I limit my consumption of foods containing sodium. I always get my Chinese food sans MSG. I don’t like the thumping heart rate that sodium-laden food gives me…never have, never will. It’s not a health issue, it’s a matter of like or dislike on my part. You know, those quaint old concepts called personal freedom and liberty.

I don’t need my government dictating to me how much sodium that I may or may not consume. I can figure that out for myself. I’m sure others can and will make similar choices as well. For example, my father-in-law LOVES salt, and he uses it liberally on his food. He doesn’t have any circulatory- or heart-related health issues, so why can’t he go for it if he wants? It’s his free-willed personal choice. Right? He doesn’t need the FDA to insinuate itself between his hand and his salt shaker.

I’d prefer my government concentrating on the very limited set of powers that is vested in it in the Constitution. If the Founders wanted the federal government to limit our access to salt licks and such, then I think they would have been quite explicit in their wishes.

Apparently they weren’t…so leave me the hell alone!

Until I read Massachusetts Senate Bill 2028, I don’t think I’ve read a more sweeping piece of proposed legislation that tramples on both the US and state Constitutional rights of citizens in our Commonwealth. And for this bill to have been unanimously passed by the MA Senate speaks volumes to the (not so) hidden contempt that they have for the Constitution or us citizens.

The link to the bill on the Mass legis system may be found HERE.

Now, I understand that this is 2009 and we’re almost to the point where we’re flying around in Jetson’s cars. Society is, after all, advancing. But the one thing that cannot change is the relationship of the average citizen to their constitutional rights, regardless of how much time has passed since our adoption (as a country) of this document.

Senate bill 2028, under the guise of an emergency, a pandemic, allows the government to intrude into our lives in ways that are in direct opposition to the constitutional rights of the individual. For example, in Section 2B (b), during a declared health emergency the Mass. Public Health Commissioner may authorize:

  1. to require the owner or occupier of premises to permit entry into and investigation of the premises;
  2. to close, direct, and compel the evacuation of, or to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated any building or facility, and to allow the reopening of the building or facility when the danger has ended;
  3. to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated, or to destroy any material;
  4. to restrict or prohibit assemblages of persons;
  5. to require a health care facility to provide services or the use of its facility, or to transfer the management and supervision of the health care facility to the department or to a local public health authority;
  6. to control ingress to and egress from any stricken or threatened public area, and the movement of persons and materials within the area;
  7. to adopt and enforce measures to provide for the safe disposal of infectious waste and human remains, provided that religious, cultural, family, and individual beliefs of the deceased person shall be followed to the extent possible when disposing of human remains, whenever that may be done without endangering the public health;
  8. to procure, take immediate possession from any source, store, or distribute any antitoxins, serums, vaccines, immunizing agents, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutical agents or medical supplies located within the commonwealth as may be necessary to respond to the emergency;
  9. to require instate health care providers to assist in the performance of vaccination, treatment, examination, or testing of any individual as a condition of licensure, authorization, or the ability to continue to function as a health care provider in the commonwealth;
  10. to waive the commonwealth’s licensing requirements for health care professionals with a valid license from another state in the United States or whose professional training would otherwise qualify them for an appropriate professional license in the commonwealth;
  11. to allow for the dispensing of controlled substances by 103 appropriate personnel consistent with federal statutes as necessary for the prevention or treatment of illness;
  12. to authorize the chief medical examiner to appoint and prescribe the duties of such emergency assistant medical examiners as may be required for the proper performance of the duties of the office;
  13. to collect specimens and perform tests on any animal, living or deceased;
  14. to exercise authority under sections 95 and 96 of chapter 111;
  15. to care for any emerging mental health or crisis counseling needs that individuals may exhibit, with the consent of the individuals.

Also found in Section 13 (95) (b):

  1. to vaccinate or provide precautionary prophylaxis to individuals as protection against communicable disease and to prevent the spread of communicable or possibly communicable disease, provided that any vaccine to be administered must not be such as is reasonably likely to lead to serious harm to the affected individual;

So, now we have a proposed law, written under the aegis of “public safety” that essentially declares martial law on its citizens during a time of health crisis…and it thwarts or abridges many of our constitutional rights and liberties like the right to privacy, the right to freely assemble, and the right to have control of our own bodies. Perhaps the Massachusetts Senate was taking advantage of presidential adviser Rahm Emmanuels’ theory that you should never let a crisis go to waste. So, why not use a pandemic or other health situation to unleash a major governmental power play?

The Constitution is set up as a framework that defines and then assures the protection of the personal rights and liberties enumerated within it. Furthermore, the government is society’s watchdog that our rights are vigorously protected. Senate bill 2028 replaces the precious rights of the individual and substitutes the needs of society at large in their place. This is not only wrong, it is madness. Each individual person is the custodian of their rights and liberties. If each of us allows our rights to be abridged or co-opted by legislators who claim to be looking out for our collective interests, then we can expect to have our individual rights either ignored or trampled by future  well-meaning legislation that can be dreamed up by our “protectors.”

Perhaps the members of the legislature need to be vigorously reminded that they represent us, not rule us! Because truth be told, the provisions of 2028 sound more like commands from an autocratic ruler rather than carefully crafted provisions that first and foremost protect the individual rights of the citizens they purport to protect.

Now, having said what I just said, I don’t want to see a pandemic kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of citizens. But I personally would rather take the chance of succumbing to the swine flu or some other pathogen with all of my Constitutional rights intact than surviving with rights provided to me (via 2028) as a cog in a larger machine.

When all is said and done, damn it, we are freeborn Americans with protected rights. These rights are too precious for me to allow them to be superseded FOR ANY REASON. Because once we start to slide down the slippery slope that is embodied by Senate bill 2028, we can expect to see our rights further eroded with future, well-meaning, legislation.

In these matters you can count me out!

I’m sure that much of the legislation dreamed up in Washington DC is well meaning and intended to do good for us citizens. Regardless of how well meaning and intentioned the laws are, many (if not most) of these laws fall prey to The Laws of Unintended Consequences (TLUC.) We have laws that were passed that were supposed to help people but end up causing misery or headaches. We have laws that were supposed to save money when enacted years ago, yet they now cost us plenty — without questioning or revision by legislators.

See, once a law is on the books, it is rarely revisited for efficacy or reviewed for cost-effectiveness. Also, with the exception of tax cuts, laws are rarely time limited. In fact, I can’t think of a single spending program that has time limits attached to it.

Two examples of government programs created by well-intended legislation are Social Security and Medicare. But they are programs without end. They are programs that are failing. They are, I declare, the government’s “Big Lies!”

Right now Social Security has an unfunded liability is $17.5 trillion, in perpetuity, and that of Medicare is over $74 trillion, for a combined total of over $100 trillion. These are big numbers indeed, and I agree that they are unsustainable. To give you an idea of how big these number are, the nation’s total private net worth is estimated to be $52 trillion. As it stands, the unfunded portions of Social Security and Medicare are approximately twice the private net worth of the citizens who fund it via taxes! These aren’t so much programs as they are the most enormous Ponzi schemes in the history of the world.

So, how does the government intend to “fix” the Medicare shortfall? President Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress would like to put in place a system of socialized medicine. They would like to model a new, Byzantine system on that of the UK or Canada. They tout that this highly-regulated system would reduce costs over time (except, according to the non-partisan CBO their plans don’t!) and make the medical care experience more efficient and patient-centric.

Except they leave out a salient detail: costs are to be saved predicated on services that are not delivered. What does this mean? It means that panels of medical “experts” will sift and sort through treatments and determine which are the most effective and which may be prescribed by your physician. If a treatment for you, at your age, isn’t determined to be efficacious, then you will not get the treatment. Simple as that. You might grow sicker, suffer and die, but costs will be contained!

Nice plan, huh?

There are so many other problems with the health care “reforms” currently under consideration in the Congress that are worthy of concern and consternation by individual Americans…do the research for yourself. In essence what the President and the Congress are attempting to do is change the paradigm of the entire health care industry (which is approximately 12% of our economy to help clean up mess created by TLUC. So rather than revisit Medicare and/or Social Security, and make honest, sweeping and painful changes to these programs, it is preferred that the entire American populace will be subjected to new and highly restrictive health care rules.

Remember, misery loves company!

It is the general belief of our political betters that not only wealth must be shared, but so must pain be shared as well. Heck, this is America…isn’t that the American way?

Uh, NO!!

We are all bound together by our Constitutional responsibilities. We are not yoked together by the oppressive caprice of our ersatz “representatives,” who care more about their prospective re-elections and pandering to wealthy special interests — whether they want us to believe we are or not.

We can act like our wallets are bigger than our hearts. We can enact sweeping social programs that will eventually enslave us all with taxes and ensnare us all in their inadequate services. Reality says our generosity must be bound by the wealth and resources that are available. If we wish exorbitant taxes and lousy programs that simply do not deliver the services that they promised, then let’s keep on traveling down the road that we are on, and have been for the last 70 years or so. I’m convinced that this road will lead us straight to Hell!

Because we can legislate only so many things, but they are dictated by reality and common sense, and we can never legislate or predict the final outcome or destination.

No matter how much we wish or how big our hearts are…

The proposed $1.5 trillion health care legislation in the House of Representatives will make health care a right and a responsibility for all Americans. But the question that comes to my mind is can Congress enumerate new “rights” that do not already exist in the Constitution?

I have two problems with this new enumeration of a Constitutional “right.”

The first problem that I have is that the Congress simply cannot wave a magic wand and give us new “rights”. The Constitution, as drafted by the Founders, enumerates our inherent rights and thus cannot be capriciously changed without consent of the people and the states via a Constitutional amendment. This action cannot be done by edict from the Congress. Simply put, our representatives are not our keepers! They are our elected representatives, and they must operate within the limits of their Constitutional authority. Granting new rights is not in their Constitutional bailiwick.

The second problem that I have is that by the government determining that a service (yes, health care is a service) is a right, and furthermore that the government is going to insinuate itself between the individual and this service — and new “right” — then there becomes a troubling new way that Congress may curry or even buy favor with its actions in this venue in the future.

He who controls your health (care) controls your vote!

This is a  nice try by an administration, a Congress and a government infrastructure that are obsessed with the notion of health care for all. Or more accurately put, a majority Democrat-controlled administration, Congress and government. They desperately want to pass health care “reform” as soon as possible. Why? Because the Democrat political leadership see the perfect alignment of forces (Democrat control of the White House, and both houses of the Congress) to get this done in a manner that is most palatable to their political platform and future goals. Hence, they must act expeditiously to literally force this legislation down the throats of a mostly uninformed electorate. Why? Because the devil is in the details and if the rank-and-file American public were to learn the details in this legislation, there would naturally be push back. The push back would be primarily from the cost and from the details of the implementation.

When a citizen is guaranteed something as a right, and it has an attendant cost associated with it, then the implementation of this right runs afoul of the Constitution. Rights are free concepts. They do not incur a cost to the individual, nor are they dictated by their representatives or government. Our rights are citizen-centric…they spring from the individual and they do not depend upon the interaction or intervention of another. By making this new “right” a responsibility, the Congress will have for the first time in American history made the average citizen beholding to the government for their existence. This concept is anti-constitutional and a tremendous intrusion into our personal liberty. Sure, it’s being done under the guise of helping us, but a person can be killed with kindness, you know. Who doesn’t want to be healthy? Who doesn’t want to live as long as they can? But the government has no place as the steward of our health. Our health and our personal lifestyle choices (which affect our health) are none of the government’s business!

As with all other government give away programs, this new right is merely a means to an end. By making health care a right and responsibility, the politicians who have crafted this legislation see it as an opportunity to gain political primacy by essentially buying votes. How better to curry the favor of the great unwashed masses than to give them guaranteed health care? By providing and controlling health care for the masses, our elected representatives rise from mere mortal staus to an almost godlike status. They will essentially assume the responsibility for the lives and deaths of individual American citizen. Or more aptly put, they may insinuate themselves into most decisions and actions that we make from the cradle to the grave. If this is not liberty blunted, then I don’t know what is!

It strikes me that the Founders never intended this function for our government. Otherwise they would have explicitly enumerated this government responsibility in the Constitution. To foist this expensive, expansive and intrusive “right” upon us citizens through an interpretation of the role of government in the Constitution is nothing less than a crime against us all.

So, count me in the group of citizens who think that an individual’s health care, although being a desirable necessity, is not a right. And it is certainly no place for the government to interfere — no way, no how.

The recent pandemic scare with the swine flu (H1N1) virus has presented the US an opportunity with a teaching moment. But what could we possibly learn from this lurking pathogen?

For starters, it is a tremendous wake-up call to all citizens that we have borders and control our population egress for a list of rational and critical purposes. First and foremost, the control of our borders helps to control the spread of illnesses like H1N1 into our general population. That this virus emanated from Mexico is in itself a wake-up call. There isn’t a soul in the US that doesn’t know or have an opinion regarding the illegal alien problem in our country. And we all understand that the lion’s share of the aliens who sneak onto our soil originate in Mexico. All of us, of all political persuasions and sympathies towards these interlopers, should see the irony in the Mexico-illegal alien-H1N1 connection. This connection is precisely why we scrutinize those individuals who would like to either visit or emigrate to our country. We, the people, want to make sure we’re not releasing an agent of our own demise into our midst. You know, one bad apple and such.

But the Obama administration has taken a more PC attitude towards H1N1 and the Mexico connection. In their own inspired way they apparently feel that if we want to be players on the world stage, we’ve got to be willing to lose a few citizens here-and-there so that we don’t alienate (no pun intended) our neighbor to the south, or God forbid, the UN and Europe. And we certainly don’t want to rankle the powerful Hispanic political appratus in the US by suggesting that perhaps, maybe, sick illegal Mexicans could carry H1N1 into our country unbeknownst to immigration officials and the populace at large. My God, what a racist notion that is!

It’s now time to sup deeply of the euphemism food pantry: It looks like we collectively bit the bullet, dodged a fastball…got luckier than hell regarding the destructive capabilities of H1N1 to our people. It seems to be far milder and less virulent strain of influenza than was initially feared.

But, and there is always a but…if our leaders and representatives in Washington were sincere in their fealty to their Constitutional duties and responsibilities, then they would have most certainly realized the ticking time bomb that exists regarding public health and safety that unchecked illegal immigration poses to our country. And this threat exists if the means of entry is from the south or from the north…or by air or by sea.

We have immigration laws for a reason, and H1N1 has demonstrated one very good and compelling reason why. If the folks in Washington don’t learn from this obvious warning and get on the ball, and fast, then the consequences may be far too dire to simply demand an explanation from the negligent parties. We would be more than justified to demand swift legal action and appropriate legal punishment for those who neglected their sworn Constitutional duties. The souls of the many Americans who could possibly die as a result of the immigration law negligence would scream for this justice!

The crisis isn’t fully over…H1N1 cases are still popping up all over our nation and there has been at least one fatality…however it appears that we were extremely lucky this time around with this virus…however the next time we may not be so fortunate…

In a Feb. 9th commentary on Bloomberg.com, former New York lieutenant governor and now senior fellow at the Hudson Institute Betsy McCaughey took an in-depth look at one of the more obscure provisions of Obama’s stimulus bill, HR 1 ER. In this commentary, “Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan: Betsy McCaughey“, she teases out the true intentions of the healthcare provisions in the bill:

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system.

There will be no opportunity to opt-out of this provision. Your concerns about your provacy are trumped by the Federal government’s concerns about cost and health efficacy. As innocent as it may seem at first glance, this provision is Big Brother government at its worst.

One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

No longer will your doctor be free to proscribe and prescribe treatments to you that are thought to be in your best interests. Rather, a Washington DC bureaucracy will determine the best course of action based on cost and your age. Your doctor will then have to conform to these guidelines, whether it cures you or not.

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties.  “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541).

Doctors are not allowed to opt-out of the system. If they do, they will suffer unspecified “penalties.”

In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost- effectiveness standard set by the Federal Council (464).

The Federal Council is modeled after a U.K. board discussed in Daschle’s book. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.

This is an odious provision in the bill. It virtually allows the government to play God. Your individual needs for treatment will not be paramount, rather your needs will be compared to guidelines — always in a quest for cost effectiveness. This portion of the bill also discourages new medications and treatments, which are most likely to be more expensive. This could have a chilling effect on medical innovation and stunt the medical device and healthcare industry in the US.

The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid. The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force combined (90-92, 174-177, 181).Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional.

YOUR healthcare costs will come under close, bureaucratic scrutiny. But the Federal bureaucracy will have a budget larger than the lion’s share of our military. This should frighten people, as this new “system” has all the potential of rivaling Social Security in its cost, scope and complexity. And hasn’t Social Security worked out well?

Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

This is by far the most insulting and dangerous part of the provision. this is midnight legislating at its finest! Is it the place for our elected representatives to sneak a provision into a stimulus bill that will affect the health and healthcare of every single American citizen, forevermore, without adequate discussion of this matter? How many Americans are even aware of the breadth and scope of this single provision? Are we willing to have these permanent strictures placed on the healthcare that we can obtain as we age?

These are all good questions, but they were apparently never meant to be answered by this session of Congress, controlled by the Democrats. This is not your usual pork pet project that has been slid into a larger piece of legislation. This is a provision that will affect our personal freedom and liberty…and perhaps negatively affect our privacy. Can you imagine the unintended consequences of someone’s very personal medical history becoming very public, let’s say during a political campaign? Or during a job interview? We may be given absolute assurances to the contrary, but computerized data can always be compromised. Just think US nuclear research labs leaks or the credit card data fiascoes with retailers. Now, doesn’t the prospect of having your most private health information computerized and de-centralized seem like a good one?

In the end, this provision, although probably inserted with some good intentions, shows how little our elected representatives care about us as individuals. They really don;t need our opinions on this matter — they know best and we’ll only cloud the matter and prevent “progress”, whatever that is. The way this provision was handled (surreptitiously inserting it into an economic recovery plan) reveals to me a contempt and a politically-driven paternal attitude — after all our elected representatives are supposed to do our bidding and act in our best interests as directed by us. In fact, this healthcare provision reeks of collectivism and a stroll down the path of socialized medicine. Perhaps this is what the intent is all along…to pave the way for an easier transition to full government-controlled, socialized medicine. That thought should scare the devil out of every person who values freedom of choice and personal liberty. Because it’s not that far down the road from telling your doctor how to treat you to telling you who your doctor will be. Your health doesn’t matter as much as the cost of the treatment(s) do. This provision makes you less of an individual and more of a number — a case to be analyzed for statistical information.

So, my question is: “Don’t you feel stimulated?”

RX

It frightens me when anyone in government says they’re going to “fix” something. But my level of fright turns to full-tilt terror when I hear officials from the upcoming Obama administration talk about fixing the US healthcare system. I’m terrified because I know that anything the government, and Democrat politicians in particular, attempts to “fix” will require massive amounts of taxpayer money, will involve complicated rules and regulations and will be greared to the lowest common denominator (namely those who cannot afford healthcare in the first place.) Remember, a paramount goal of president-elect Obama and socialist Democrats like Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is to reform and “universalize” our present healthcare delivery system. And mark my words, when they use the word universal, they really mean providing free or low-cost healthcare to all Americans as a birthright, regardless of their ability to pay for it.

What changes will Obama and the Democrats try to legislate this time around? How far away from a free-market healthcare system will we be forced by this government intervention?

We don’t know the details right now. And as we all know, the devil is in the details. But if actions up to now are any indication, Obama’s administration is going to put on a full-court press both legislatively and publicly in order to get whatever is proposed done quickly. Enter the point man in the administration for this action, former Senator and majority leader Tom Daschle. You can bet your life (and with this coming “reform” you probably will be!) that as a condition of Daschle’s appointment to Obama’s proto-cabinet as Health and Human Services director was that he not fail in this quest for healthcare reform, and that it would be his job-one.

Well, based on recent newswire stories, it will be a full-court press. It will be a more “open” process compared to the utter secrecy that the Clinton administration employed over 15 years ago in their quest for socialized medicine. And, unfortunately, it will become a pity party of epic dimensions. Recenetly, Daschle has requested that average Americans share their healthcare stories with the incoming administration, where I’m sure the worst and most gut-wrenching will be posted for all to see at Obama’s political marketing website, www.change.gov. See, part of the plan to foist a massive and unknowingly expensive healthcare reform on the citizens of the US is to make sure that we see that some Americans are suffering under the present system. It doesn’t matter how many people, or their circumstances, it just matters that there was (or is) a terrible experience and human suffering.

So, you will see stories of folks who were denied treatment(s) by cruel and uncaring insurance companies and those who suffered because the present healthcare system, for whatever reason, let them down. We will see sick children: Lots of sick children with heart-wrenching and compelling stories that will make our hearts cry and our resolve to “fix” the system even greater. And, certainly, we will be exposed to every perceived “failure” of the system and the inadequacies of the paid-provider healthcare system in the Democrat’s efforts to provide an egalitarian, cradle-to-grave healthcare entitlement system.

So, part of the game plan is to politicize the need for “change” in the present healthcare system in order to end this human suffering. We must make these changes, after all, “for the children!” But I hope that those individuals who will in some part pay for this healthcare entitlement will look closely at the process and, more importantly, at the cost of this proposal. And that they use emotion as only part of their criteria for determining the need for changes.

So, what is the cost of the proposed universal healthcare? Nobody knows for sure, because obviously that depends upon the coverage required by law…but estimates by the CBO and non-government think tanks place the cost in the trillions of dollars each year. Costs for this system will be borne by increased taxes on “the wealthy” and by forcing businesses to put aside part of their payroll to cover healthcare costs for their employees, or to pay into a pool to assist in employee healthcare coverage.

According to Daschle “Health care is going to destroy many of our manufacturing industries unless we fix the system.”

And we mustn’t forget that beyond workers, the Democrats want to provide expansive and comprehensive healthcare to those who presently cannot pay for it. And along with this coverage, they want mandatory coverage for all children below the age of 18.

We also mustn’t forget that the government, and Democrats in particular, have a horrendus track record of legislating programs mandating socialized services. One just needs to look at the collosal failure that was “The Great Society” as a prime example of good intentions going so, so wrong. And we also have albatrosses like Social Security hanging around our necks — a program that has become a Gordian knot of costs and problems that no sensible politician will consider “fixing” or truncating. One can only imagine the spectacular shortcomings, as we know there will be, of this universal healthcare proposal. But those potential shortcomings won’t be publicized or vigorously discussed and debated. No, be prepared for a marketing onslaught emphasizing the shortcomings of the present system and the “human suffering” that is endured by a certain percentage of those seeking medical care.

We will be regaled with examples meant to soften our hearts and our opposition to universal, socialized, medicine. We will be bombarded by the most compelling excpetions to the rule in a flawed, but for the greater part, world-leading healthcare system. Yes, there are currently problems that need to be fixed, but I believe most of the problems are of the government’s own making (much like what happened in the home mortgage finance industry). But rather than starting small and actually helping the present system, the incoming administration and Democrat majority see this as an opportunity to get the whole enchilada — the holy grail of socialized medicine. [And let's show our cards here, they also want the quid pro quo from the grateful free healthcare recipients in the form of levers pull and boxes checked on election day!]

Trust me when I say this, a costly and spectacularly complicated enchilada it will be. And please, for God’s sake, stay healthy if you can…you won’t want to personally experience the nightmare that the “new and improved” healthcare system will treat you to.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow and is something that will REALLY make you sick!

I really don’t mean it…but in this atmosphere of nanny-state mandates and laws to “protect” the apparently dumb citizens, it probably won’t be long before a majority of Americans are saying those words.

Take for example the new law in California as of July 25, 2008 which bans trans-fat use in restaurant foods. According to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Today we are taking a strong step toward creating a healthier future for California.” You see, trans-fats have become food enemy #1 due to their purported health risks.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe trans fats are bad food additives as they are linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. But I also believe that the government has no place in our lives determining what we can or can’t do, eat or think. California’s new law may have been well intentioned, but it should have been a law of citizen education (about the dangers of trans fats) and about requiring restaurants to reveal their presence and quantity in the food they serve, rather than an outright ban. I think that states are doing the right thing when they ban the sale of trans fat-laden foods to kids at school…because kids aren’t able to make informed decisions regarding the foods they eat. But when it comes to adults, we’re all big boys and girls, and ostensibly capable of making decisions for ourselves. We don’t need the government stepping in and making decisions for us or limiting our choices in the free market of commerce and ideas.

I stay away from trans fats like they were radioactive. My wife and I actually read the “nutrition facts” labels on the food we buy. If the product is to come to our house, it best say “0 g” of trans fat (or in the case of a tasty, indulgent treat, a VERY low number). Otherwise, the product goes back to the shelf. And that’s the way it should be — informed consumers making informed decisions.

The same should go for the restaurant dining experience. The amount of “stuff” contained in the offerings should be available for perusal by the prospective consumer. If the restaurant is using quality ingredients then they should have nothing to fear. The nutrition facts are just more information allowing the customer to make a better informed decision on what they’re going to eat. This becomes more relevant because more people are eating out more frequently and receiving more calories and fats from their restaurant dining experiences. I would think quality restaurants with nothing to hide would be clamoring to get this information on their menus to give themselves a quantifiable competitive advantage!

But whether a particular restaurant chooses to use trans fats in their food preparation should be their choice. And if they do use them, then they should be rewarded or punished for their use by discerning, educated, savvy diners.

Otherwise one has to wonder where this government “nannyism” will end? How much freedom and liberty are we willing to give up one tiny cut at a time in order for us to be “safe” or “healthy” or “secure”? I don’t have those answers, but I do know that the government doesn’t either. And I know that they will keep on mandating and legislating for our alleged benefit until we all cry out in unison, in strong unwaivering voices, “NO MORE!”

Ask any presidential candidate, well at least the Democratic ones, and you will find that they want to push “universal” health care as part of their agenda. According to some, every American has a “right” to health care. A glance at their campaign issues shows that each has a very egalitarian viewpoint regarding the health care system, and this viewpoint borders on anti-competitive socialism if their plans were to be implemented. Each of the Democrats touts “affordable” health care…but what does affordable really mean? How much of a premium constitutes affordable? Who determines affordability? The answers are unclear, as is the difference between affordable and “free”!

I had planned to summarize the plans of the Democrats…and how each of the candidates envisions their plan coming to fruition. But, to be perfectly honest, the plans are disingenuous bull crap! At the base of their plans is the hope that they can reduce costs and pass the burden of covering the much touted “45 million uninsured Americans” onto American taxpayers. Otherwise, where will the money come from? From the people who can’t afford health insurance (among other things) today? The answers are no and no!! How do they expect to reduce health care costs? Lower the bar for services (“Mr. Jones, your plan doesn’t cover the cost of an MRI or chemotherapy.”), force doctors and health care professionals to cap their earnings/incomes or, by using the magic wand of legislation, have the government subsidize the cost for lower income people (i.e. “Medical welfare”). There is also another way to reduce costs, which isn’t discussed by any of the Democratic candidates: This would be to limit frivolous lawsuits and litigation, and to cap damages to a reasonable level (as do most Republican candidates). Don’t go looking for this proposal from any of these Democratic candidates (all of whom are lawyers, by the way!!), as proposing this politically radioactive cost reduction step would significantly limit their shelf life as a presidential candidate.

I chuckle at the statement of Hillary Clinton that she would offer “The Same Choice of Health Plan Options that Members of Congress Receive”. A nice thought (and probably a nifty vote-getter), but doesn’t she realize (Of course she does!) that we American taxpayers heavily subsidize the health care choices provided to the Congress — we are their EMPLOYER, and we pick up the cost of their (lavish) medical insurance plans as does any other employer! The only difference is that they get to choose what they get for plans by legislation…and they aren’t cheap when it comes to caring for themselves!!!

So, what do the Republicans offer for their health care proposals? Most focus on personal responsibility and clearing the roadblocks to lower cost from government-mandated programs like Medicaid and Medicare. John McCain has a plan that sounds very Democratic in nature, but he is less aggressive about the government involvement in the process than are the Democrats.

It is the proposed government involvement in the process that concerns (and frankly, scares) me. Based on the performance of the Federal government with the Medicare/Medicaid programs, and the granddaddy of all social “benefit” programs, Social Security, how can anyone who gives the socialized medicine issue more than a single selfish thought be anything but concerned (or frightened)? I think that if the government takes a more central role, as all the Democratic presidential candidates envision, then we certainly open ourselves up to the Law of Unintended Consequences. Rather than the world-class health care system, albeit with its problems, that we have now…we will get the best health care system that we deserve. And if we choose a socialistic system, the we deserve the crappy health systems that the UK, Canada, France, Germany and other socialized-medicine governments offer their citizens.

Listen, I feel that health care isn’t a birthright. I think that it’s a necessity, just like a job and a house and a car and food. If you want health care, you get a job and work for it. If your plan isn’t satisfactory to your needs, then you sacrifice and supplant your contribution to get what you want. Accordingly, food and drink are life’s necessities — does that mean that the government should provide free food? The Constitution doesn’t insure or guarantee you or me a good, healthy life…nor does it guarantee food and drink. It also doesn’t assure us that our fellow citizens should bear the burden of our care and feeding. The constitution is a framework of of freedoms and liberties, not a big lifeboat!

If people are uninsured, then their care should be the role of charity or some other private funding source. This probably sounds like a cold statement…but I assure you that I care for my fellow man as much, if not more, than others. But I believe in personal responsibility, and I believe in a very limited role of government in each individual’s life and affairs. Each individual controls how charitable they are, and conversely, each person ultimately controls how much health care that they can afford. The government should not be insinuated into this situation, because politicians will then ultimately determine what is “fair” and what is “affordable”. This insinuation will further destroy or hamstring the concept of meritocracy…whereby a person works for what they get, and they are limited only by their initiative and drive.

America is the great place that it is because of the drive of its citizens, their personal generosity and their accomplishments. How can we expect that we can retain this greatness if we plunge, headlong, into the quagmire of socialized health care? If you’re brutally honest, the answer is a resounding “We can’t”! If we are serious about addressing the health care problems in America, particularly those of the oft-quoted 45 million uninsured, we will put our collective thinking caps on and look for innovative, workable solutions within the framework of our risk/reward Capitalist system. What we shouldn’t do is the tried-and-true solution that lazy politicians always resort to: Shaking the money tree that is the American taxpayer.

I don’t know about you, but I’m growing tired of being “shaken down” by my government! I just hope that we can make the political candidates understand this in clear, unambiguous terms.

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