Friday, September 27, 2013

Health care is NOT a right

Yesterday President Obama, noted Constitutional scholar, proclaimed that

"For a long time, America was the only advanced economy in the world where health care was not a right but a privilege"

Let's get this straight once for all. Health care is NOT a right.

If health care was a right, that would mean certain things.

For one, it would mean that no one could be denied any treatment for any reason. Medicare denies treatment to millions of people every year. The new Independent Payment Advisory Board established by Obamacare exists to deny treatment to even more people. If health care is a right, they can't do that. If health care is a right, it can't be dependent on my ability or even willingness to pay for it.

In 2009, Obama claimed that we needed Obamacare to cover 46 million uninsured people. Last year, they estimated that it would actually only cover 22 million of those people. Last week Obama's own Department of Health and Human Services revised that number downward again. Now it will cover only 11 million people, leaving 30 million uninsured. This is why we are putting millions of people out of work, depressing the economy, and making insurance massively more expensive for those who already have it? Obama is declaring that he made health care into a "right" by insuring eleven million people in a nation of 309 million, leaving 30 million uninsured? If health care is a right, everyone must have it for free. Even countries like Great Britain which have national health care systems which liberals want to model do not treat health care as a right. They deny treatment to millions of people every year, allowing people to die due to government budgetary considerations, and leaving people on waiting lists for inordinate periods of time.

A right to health insurance is not the same thing as a right to health care. We could issue insurance policies to everyone in America tomorrow for essentially no cost. Unless there is actual health care, meaning available doctors, nurses, hospital facilities and staff, medication, and equipment, to deliver, what is the value of the insurance policy? Doctors are leaving practice, hospitals are shutting down, and hospitals which were being planned for construction are being cancelled, so providing insurance promising a product which does not exist is worthless. Think about it this way: imagine that a prominent Congressman by the name of Hairy Weed is convinced that too many Americans don't have a unicorn. Every American has the right to a unicorn, and they just don't have them. So Hairy prints 309 million coupons, each of which guarantee the bearer one unicorn. He distributes the pieces of paper to every American, and declares that he has made unicorn ownership a right! Does every American now have a unicorn? Government can promise every citizen a coupon for a unicorn, but it can't promise them a unicorn. Obamacare is no different. It promises every American a piece of paper entitling them to a product they can't deliver.

A second consequence of declaring health care to be a right is that those who provide it are enslaved to those who demand it. However you slice it, if I demand health care as my right, someone else must give up a part of their life to provide it. Tell me why I am entitled to that portion of another person's life?

If the government declares that everyone has the right to a house, it means that if someone doesn't have a house, the government must provide them with one. Now the government doesn't produce houses out of thin air. To provide the house, they have to take it from someone else. If houses are a right, I want my house! I'll make sure that I'm one of the people receiving a free house, and not one of those stupid suckers who they take the houses from. Similarly, if health care is a right, why should anyone pay for it? Let someone else pay for it, and give me my free meds. But how is it right for government to confiscate what that other person has earned to give it to me? If I go out and do that, it is called robbery, and they would put me in jail. If I get a government agent to do it for me, that makes is a compassionate social program.

A legitimate right is exercised, not demanded from someone else. I have the right to life. I exercise that right by living. I don't have to go take it from anyone, and no one has the right to take it from me. Government does not create rights. The Bill of Rights does not grant me the right to free speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, or freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. God gave me those rights, and the Bill of Rights restrains the government from infringing on them. Health care is not a right, because if it was, government would not need to grant it to me. Health care is a product which I can choose to buy or not buy as I wish, but which no one else is obligated to give me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Defunding Obamacare

Get ready for record levels of hysterical demagoguery.

Today the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution which fully funds all of the government, except for Obamacare.

If a bill does not pass both chambers of Congress and receive the President's signature by the end of September, the government will not be authorized to spend any more money, and all "non-essential" services will close down. This has happened seventeen times in my lifetime, and contrary to what the left would have you believe, the sun still kept rising and life went on, even without the all-present nanny state meddling in everyone's business.

The next month will determine if there is any remaining use for the Republican Party. They have a miserable track record for standing up under pressure to stop the erosion of liberty and the irresponsible piling on of massive generational debt. With the exception of sequestration, every confrontation in the past five years has ended with the Republican leadership caving, giving Obama all of the taxes and spending he wants in return for nothing. Democrats believe that all they need to do is paint Republicans as mean guys who want to shut down the government, starve people, and take away their medical care, and Republicans will immediately agree to any demands. They may very well be right.

But if there ever was a time to stand up to the Democrats and say "No!", this is it. Even the author of Obamacare, Democrat Max Bachus, says that the implementation of the massive government program is a "train wreck."

The state exchanges are not even close to being ready to open.

The Obama administration has delayed, cancelled, or altered more than half of the provisions in the bill.

The White House has granted exemptions to their cronies, ranging from campaign donors to labor unions to Congress. Getting out from the onerous restrictions and penalties of Obamacare is a perk. Congress should exempt the people they work for: all the American people, who overwhelmingly don't want Obamacare.

Obamacare is trampling on the religious liberty of Americans, forcing people to violate their beliefs by paying for abortion.

Employers are being forced to decide between cutting back their workforce or reducing their existing employees from full time to part time. Obamacare's job killing costs are the biggest factor in America's long-lasting high level of unemployment and economic doldrums.

Meanwhile, the two major selling points for Obamacare have proven to be false. Instead of driving insurance costs down, premiums and deductibles are through the roof. Many people will be paying twice as much next year as they did in 2009. And access to health insurance is also down. Millions of people who had coverage for years are losing it.

The FDA is rejecting life-saving drugs, not because they are not safe or effective, but because the government doesn't want to pay for them. Doctors are leaving practice, hospitals are closing, planned construction of new hospitals is being cancelled, and doctor shortages are growing. Doctors are refusing to accept Medicare patients because it is impossible to jump through the bureaucratic hoops and stay in business at the below-market rates paid by Medicare.

Obama claims that predictions of "death panels" have not come true. However, patients are now routinely denied lifesaving treatment based on government budgetary constraints. For example, an Obama administration bureaucrat refused a lung transplant to 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, in spite of the fact that she would die without the new organ, and her doctors agreed that she was an ideal candidate for a transplant and could live a long, healthy life with new lungs. Government should not be making those life and death decisions.

Obama repeatedly promised that "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" and "If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance." Again, the reality of Obamacare fails to deliver on the promises of Obamacare, as employers drop insurance coverage due to the inflated costs caused by all of the new requirements, and doctors are forced out of private practice or forced to stop accepting insurance plans because Obamacare has made it economically nonviable.

Obama promised that he would not allow a bill which "adds one dime to the deficit." But the actual costs of the first ten years of Obamacare have already tripled the original CBO projections. Obamacare costs account for roughly three trillion dollars of new debt in the next ten years.

Polls consistently show that most people don't want Obamacare.

But Obama is bent on ramming Obamacare down the throat of a nation which does not want it. This week he said that people don't like it because they don't understand it, and when they see how swell it really is, they'll come around. Nancy Pelosi said that we have to pass it to find out what is in it. Apparently we are always a year or two away from people recognizing how wonderful Obamacare is.

There is only one thing which can stand in Obama's way, to prevent him from destroying America's medical system and imposing his top-down authoritarian leviathan. The Constitution gives Congress the power to fund, or not fund, any spending measure. The Government can't spend a penny unless the House of Representatives, elected by and representing the citizens of America, grant their approval. If the House does not vote to fund Obamacare, it will not be funded. Conversely, if Obamacare is funded, it will only be because Republicans in the House of Representatives ignored the will of the people they represent and voted to fund it.

Republicans should not proceed down this road if they are not willing to see it to the end. If they are going to cave on September 30, what is the point? Republicans hold all of the cards. They can win, if they have the will to win. This is the job they were sent to Washington to do, and if they aren't up to it, they should go home now.

Count on Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama to try to convince the public that the Republicans are shutting down the government. How does that make a bit of sense? The House passed a bill which fully funds the government, except for Obamacare. If the Senate or President refuse to pass that bill, how is it the fault of the House? If the Democrats shut down the government in their effort to force their takeover of the medical system on us, so be it. Republicans can do just fine without the government. I doubt that Democrats can say the same thing.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

"Giving back"

Last week I bumped into an old friend who was working on some improvements to the bike trails near Harry Myer’s Park. It had been a couple of months since I had seen him, so I stopped to talk. We each talked about our kids, and then discussed his very successful business based here in Rockwall. Finally I asked him about the work he was doing on the trail. With a rather pained expression, he told me that he had volunteered for this project because he wanted to “give back to the community.”

As we talked, I continued to process that statement. If he needs to “give back to the community,” that presumes that his success was taken from the community. For every dollar he has earned, the rest of the community must be one dollar poorer. I needed some clarification, so I asked him why he felt the need to give back to the community. “Well,” he told me, “My business is for profit. I’m doing this for free.”

“Why does starting a profitable business mean that you are taking from the community?” The question took him aback, so I pressed on. “How many people do you employ?” He told me that he currently has fifteen full-time employees and a few students and interns part-time.

I picked up a shovel and started helping him load rocks into a wheelbarrow. “How much did your company pay in taxes last year?” He listed off the amounts they paid in sales tax, property tax, corporate income tax, and payroll tax, each one well into five-digit figures. All told, it was well over a hundred thousand dollars, and that didn’t count his own income taxes, property taxes, and the income taxes paid by all of his employees.

“How many customers patronized your business last year?” He pondered that for a moment, then responded, “Thousands. But I made a profit on them.” Finally we had gotten to the crux of the matter. Clearly he had fallen for the myth that profit is greed and altruism is the only pure motivation. “Which do you believe that your customers value more: your product or the money they paid for your product?” He looked puzzled. “I hadn’t thought of it in those terms before. I suppose they value the product more. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother to buy it.” I agreed. The fact that people freely decided to trade indicates that both parties are benefiting from the exchange. “The goods you produce enrich the lives of the people who buy them. You pay more than your share of the tax burden. And you created more than a dozen jobs which would not exist without you. So why do you feel guilty for making a profit”

“I guess I feel like I’m supposed to feel guilty. Are you saying I shouldn’t work on this bike trail?”

“Not at all,” I answered. “Building this trail is magnificent. I’m saying that running a successful, profitable business is noble and does not put you in debt to society. There are people who owe a debt to society, and ought to feel the need to give back to society. The most obvious are criminals. We say that they go to prison to ‘pay their debt to society.’ In fact, society doesn’t benefit much from their time in prison, apart from being protected from their criminal behavior. Our taxes pay for their free room and board, cable television, weight-lifting room, and law degrees preparing them to beat the system next time, but they spend years producing nothing in return for our resources they consume. A second category are government dependents who take from society in the form of welfare checks, food stamps, unpaid mortgages and student loans, and a host of other means of accessing the public trough. They receive something for nothing, which means that somewhere, someone is producing something only to have it confiscated without remuneration. Sometimes the first two categories even overlap, as seen in the vast array of fraud perpetrated in the welfare, Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment systems. Next comes the vast army of 4.1 million government bureaucrats who endlessly write regulations and produce nothing but draw a taxpayer-funded paycheck for meddling in other people’s business, suppressing productivity, destroying wealth, and hindering commerce. The final category is those who profit from cronyism, seeking special favors from government officials in exchange for campaign contributions or political pull. These looters are hard to distinguish from real producers, because they have all of the trappings of success, but careful examination will show that their profit does not come from voluntary free-market transactions. They are being carried just as much as the welfare recipient. All of these people benefit by taking from society and therefore ought to feel compelled to give back, but rarely do.”

“But doesn’t it show that I’m a good person if I want to give back?”

“No!” I told him emphatically. “It means that you are agreeing to their misplaced guilt, accepting their accusation that earning profit is an evil which must be atoned for. There is no virtue in saying that good is actually evil. All of these people who you are carrying want you to feel that way so that you won’t object when they demand more from you. More taxes, more freedom, more of your life.”

“Then why should I work on this bike trail?”

“Because it is consistent with who you are every day,” I told him. “You are a creative force, a producer, an innovator who brings life to this community. The purpose of your generosity is not to make up for your success. It is an extension of your success.”