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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Healthcare, the Constitution, and Why are Republicans Such Fools?

Free Market Healthcare

NOT Free Market Healthcare

Any questions?

Can you imagine what it would be like if Republican politicians were put in charge of removing a stubborn Band-Aid from a child’s arm?

Republican #1:  “We can’t just rip off the Band-Aid!  It’s going to hurt and then her parents will be mad and our approval ratings will go down!

Republican #2:  “What if we brought in the finest surgeons (at taxpayers’ expense) to surgically remove her arm, rip off the Band-Aid, and then reattach the arm?”

Republican #3:  “That’s crazy!  Let’s just bring in a team of anesthesiologists (at taxpayers’ expense) to sedate the child, then rip off the Band-Aid while she’s sleeping.”

Republican #4:  “Or we could hire a circus (at taxpayers’ expense) to distract her while we rip the Band-Aid off!”

After recently postponing a vote on the Republican healthcare bill, Senate leader Mitch McConnell said, “This is a very complicated subject.”

I suppose it is complicated, but that’s in no small part because Republicans have exacerbated the problem with their foolish and misguided efforts to “fix” the Obamacare mess with the impossible, self-imposed condition of not upsetting anyone.   Furthermore, if not upsetting anyone is the goal, they’re failing miserably.  And apparently if anyone IS to be upset it can’t be the freeloaders who should be paying for their own healthcare, the insurance companies who conspired with Obama or the medical industry that profits so handsomely by gaming the system.  No, as always it must be middleclass taxpayers, most of whom already provide for their own insurance, who take the fall because these are the folks who can be depended upon to re-elect the same Republicans that keep failing them.  This is the insanity that is our Party.

The Supreme Court’s traitorous ruling notwithstanding, the federal government has no business involving itself in the healthcare of American citizens.   I know this in my heart and in my brain to be a fundamental and inarguable truth, because the evidence speaks for itself.  Just look at the mess that’s been made with respect to both our healthcare “system” (more on that later), the infinitely spiraling costs and the take-no-prisoners fighting that consumes both bodies of congress as they battle on behalf of their constituencies.  You don’t need to be an expert on the Constitution or on the Founding Fathers to see that this chaos and violation of our liberties is not the product of their design.   This is what the Constitution was supposed to protect us from.  As long as the federal government insists on inserting itself where it doesn’t belong and assuming powers that the Constitution does not expressly assign to it, chaos will always be just an election away, if not the everyday norm.  That is the principled, moral argument for repealing Obamacare.  It was wrong from the get go, therefore it must be undone.  But since so many Republicans no longer care about what is right or wrong according to the Constitution, I’ll make the practical argument as well.

The first problem with the “healthcare system” in the U.S. is that it was never supposed to be a “system.” “System” implies central planning, purposeful design and continuous regulation with the goal of producing a defined outcome.  None of this has historically been applicable to healthcare in the U.S. which, aside from the unique and polluting involvement of the insurance industry (more on that later), should be like any other consumer product bought and sold in the free market.  But the Left understands that a clever lie repeated often enough becomes the truth, and their nagging insistence, year after year, that the “healthcare system is broken” has turned myth into reality in a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.  How can the system be “broken” if the system doesn’t exist?  It was a slight of hand that enabled the federal government to justify meddling in something that the Constitution gives it no power to meddle in.  To whatever extent a U.S. “healthcare system” exists, it is not by design but by deceit and default.

One of the reasons Republicans are having so much trouble trying to cut and paste a bill that “fixes” healthcare, besides the fact that it’s outside the scope of authority of the federal government, is because they want to give voters the benefits of a free market without the negatives of a free market.  Insurance is supposed to be something you buy in case you get sick, not after you get sick.  That’s what makes it insurance.  A free market requires that you make trade-offs and sacrifices and establish priorities in your life.  Consequences, good and bad, are a necessary element of the free market system.  And here’s the really big rub:  Neither Obamacare nor the patchwork “fix” cobbled together by Republicans will “fix” healthcare because it does nothing to lower the real cost.  U.S. Healthcare costs are comparatively high due to:

Administrative costs
Defensive medicine costs
Drug costs
Impediments to competition in the market
Absence of a true consumer-producer relationship

That last one’s a biggie.  The educated consumer is a key factor to making products and services affordable, and yet it’s nearly impossible for the average person to be an informed and discerning consumer in a market dictated by deals between insurance companies and medical providers.  If congress really wants to meddle in something, paving the way to transparency and consistency in medical pricing would be a good start.  Defensive medicine costs and impediments to cross-state competition are also areas where congress could help the free market, if they would only do it instead of just talking about it.

Our reliance upon insurance companies who act as the middleman in nearly every doctor-patient transaction also inflates the cost of healthcare.  Insurance was originally designed to protect consumers from large and often unexpected healthcare costs.  Now it’s more of a payment processing system for everything from ingrown toenails on up, which means your doctor has to hire more staff to interface with insurance companies.

Finally, one in every five Americans gets their health care through Medicaid.1   This is an outrageous and inexcusable breach of congress’s fiduciary obligation to American taxpayers.  The vast majority of Medicaid recipients could be and should be paying for their own healthcare, which they might actually be able to do if our merry meddlers in the federal government would ever focus their efforts on reducing the cost of medical services and insurance rather than simply transferring the cost from one person to another.

In sum Republicans aren’t doing themselves or the American people any favors by making the repeal of Obamacare so complicated.  This is the ideal time, with their approval ratings already low and expectations waning, to go bold and rip that Band-Aid off as quickly and cleanly as they can.  Let this be the congress that helps restore the Constitution rather than helping to kill it.


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

We’re “All” Guilty. Or Are We?

Ever since the shooting incident in which an unhinged leftist opened fire, terrorist-style, on unarmed Republicans gathered for baseball practice Americans have been deluged with cries from politicians and pundits Left and Right who say that “both sides need to tone down the rhetoric,” as if Republicans and Democrats have been equally guilty of engaging in inappropriately heated and provocative speech.  I can certainly understand why Democrats, who are demonstrably the more vicious and irrational of the two parties, love this misguided narrative of moral equivalency that makes us all equally culpable, but I’m a bit dumbfounded by Republicans who get on the bandwagon.  Do they think throwing everyone under the bus makes them appear more statesman-like?  Are they, like parents settling disputes between children, avoiding the chore of holding the instigators accountable so that they can get on to other things?  Whatever their reasons, it’s a huge mistake to pretend that neither side occupies the moral high ground, because this is what ultimately distinguishes Left from Right.

I don’t recall any public figure on the Right beheading Barack Obama in effigy under the guise of “comedy,” nor do I recall people flocking to theatre productions that depicted the assassination of Barack Obama.  I can’t even begin to imagine the outrage that would have dominated the MSM coverage had Obama been the object of the kind of threatening “speech” routinely aimed at Donald Trump.  This isn’t a matter of civility.   The Left’s veiled threats and violent undertones are signs of their dangerous disdain for our republic, and signify their increasing unwillingness to peacefully share power and be held to the same standards as the rest of us.  It’s critical that we recognize and address this because the leftists are becoming more emboldened, as evidenced by what transpired at that ball park in Virginia.  The “we’re all guilty” mantra is counter-productive to this effort because it undermines accountability.

Having said all that, this is only half the story, and it is the least significant half.  The second and far more consequential half has to do with the construction of this false narrative of moral equivalency with respect to the governing of this nation.   In other words, the Right resisted Barack Obama and the Left is resisting – albeit more violently – Donald Trump, this makes us even or morally equivalent.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Barack Obama came to office with the dark promise of “transforming America,” which those of us paying close attention rightly understood to mean that he was going to use the power of the presidency to undermine the Constitution as given to us by our Founders, an understanding that was vindicated again and again by Obama’s actions as president.  Obama’s promise was to expand the power of the federal government and to use this expanded power to weaken, if not altogether usurp, our rights as Americans, and it was a promise largely fulfilled.  The Constitution belongs to We the People, and as such we had every right and moral reason to oppose Barack Obama and his government of helpful minions in their attempts to circumvent or redefine it.  Even so, we eschewed violence as a means of doing so, opting instead to oppose the Obama administration by simply exposing the truth about who he was and what he was doing.  It was these truths about Obama’s dishonesties and abuses of power that the Left denounced as “uncivil” in order to bully us into voluntary censorship, a tactic which too many Republicans (the same folks who now want “everyone” to tone down their rhetoric) caved in to.

But that was then and this is now.  Or should I say, that was us and this is them.  With the election of a Republican president it is once again okay, courageous even, to be uncivil, even violently so, just as it is any time a Republican is president, in case you didn’t know.  My question to the Left is this: 

What, pray tell, is the great threat posed to this nation by Donald Trump that supposedly justifies not only your abandonment of the much ballyhooed “civility” but actions and speech laced with threats of violence? 

Trump came to office on the promise of “making America great again,” which he defined as restoring law and order, enforcing U.S. immigration policy, making better deals with other nations, fixing the healthcare mess created by Democrats, appointing judges who will uphold the Constitution, and undoing the lawless tyranny imposed upon us by Barack Obama with his infamous “pen and phone.”  If you have a problem with that, your problem isn’t with Trump, it’s with America and all that it stands for.  What you’re “resisting” is the Constitution, the rule of law, equal justice (not to be confused with “social justice,” which is the opposite of equal justice) and the God-given right of every American to pursue his own self-interest while respecting the rights of others as defined in the Constitution.  Any “rights” that you feel are threatened by Donald Trump – i.e., the “right” to free healthcare, the “right” to be in this country illegally, the “right” to free college and other welfare, the “right” to exclude other Americans from having a say on sweeping climate policies, etc., etc., etc. – are not your rights at all, and your phony “resistance” movement is exposed for what it actually is:  a movement for tyranny. 

It troubles me immensely that the protestors, organizers and other loud mouths declaring their “resistance” to the Trump administration are never asked to explain or defend just what it is they are so violently resisting, and why.  We have become so accustomed to opposition solely for the sake of opposition that we mindlessly give it respect it doesn’t necessarily deserve, and we judge it only by the means with which it is manifested, which is akin to saying that people protesting to free a guilty man from prison are as righteous as those protesting to free an innocent man.  It simply isn’t true, and we’re fools to put up with it.

I, as a conservative, have my own quibbles with Trump.  As such I will make use of my congressional representatives to resist whatever I perceive to be not in keeping with the Founder’s Constitution and the proper role of the presidency.  But the leftists and I share no moral high ground whatsoever.  As I survey the landscape from up here they are, in fact, nowhere in sight.


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Monday, June 5, 2017

The Left’s INSANE Reaction to Paris Accord Withdrawal Should Mark the End of Taking Them Seriously

“…our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.”

~President Donald J. Trump, patriot, on his decision to exit the Paris Climate Accords

I’m no great fan of Donald Trump, but as a big fan of objective argumentation and the inherent right to the pursuit of self-interest, I enthusiastically applauded his speech explaining his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords a.k.a. The Big Swindle.  Even with Trump’s ad-libbing I thought he laid out the case for withdrawal in an admirably succinct, compelling and persuasive way for anyone who still embraces logic and believes in the right of Americans to look out for their own economic interests.  Little did I know how small that group has become. 

The following remarks are my selected excerpts from Trump’s June 1st Rose Garden speech announcing the withdrawal.  If you didn’t already hear or read the speech, please peruse them so that the absurdity of the Left’s reactions, discussed afterwards, can be appreciated in full context:

The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries….
Compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates.

According to this same study, by 2040, compliance with the commitments put into place by the previous administration would cut production for the following sectors: paper down 12 percent; cement down 23 percent; iron and steel down 38 percent; coal … down 86 percent; natural gas down 31 percent. The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income and, in many cases, much worse than that.

…I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States … while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.

…under the agreement, China … can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us. India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions…of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries. There are many other examples. But the bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States.

...the agreement doesn’t eliminate coal jobs, it just transfers those jobs out of America and the United States, and ships them to foreign countries.

This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States. The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris Agreement… for the simple reason that it [put] … the United States of America…at a very, very big economic disadvantage. A cynic would say the obvious reason for economic competitors and their wish to see us remain in the agreement is so that we continue to suffer this self-inflicted major economic wound. We would find it very hard to compete with other countries from other parts of the world.

We have among the most abundant energy reserves on the planet, sufficient to lift millions of America’s poorest workers out of poverty. Yet, under this agreement, we are effectively putting these reserves under lock and key, taking away the great wealth of our nation … and leaving millions and millions of families trapped in poverty and joblessness.

The agreement is a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.
Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree…Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100. … In fact, 14 days of carbon emissions from China alone would wipe out the gains from America — and … would totally wipe out the gains from America’s expected reductions in the year 2030, after we have had to spend billions and billions of dollars, lost jobs, closed factories, and suffered much higher energy costs for our businesses and for our homes.

As the Wall Street Journal wrote this morning: “The reality is that withdrawing is in America’s economic interest and won’t matter much to the climate.”

We will be environmentally friendly, but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work and we’re not going to lose our jobs. We’re going to grow; we’re going to grow rapidly.
I’m willing to immediately work with Democratic leaders to either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers.

I will work to ensure that America remains the world’s leader on environmental issues, but under a framework that is fair and where the burdens and responsibilities are equally shared among the many nations all around the world.

No responsible leader can put the workers — and the people — of their country at this debilitating and tremendous disadvantage. The fact that the Paris deal hamstrings the United States, while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries, should dispel any doubt as to the real reason why foreign lobbyists wish to keep our magnificent country tied up and bound down by this agreement: It’s to give their country an economic edge over the United States.

My job as President is to do everything within my power to give America a level playing field and to create the economic, regulatory and tax structures that make America the most prosperous and productive country on Earth, and with the highest standard of living and the highest standard of environmental protection.

The Paris Agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense. They don’t put America first. I do, and I always will.

The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and, in many cases, lax contributions to our critical military alliance. You see what’s happening. It’s pretty obvious to those that want to keep an open mind.

I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

Beyond the severe energy restrictions inflicted by the Paris Accord, it includes yet another scheme to redistribute wealth out of the United States through the so-called Green Climate Fund — nice name — which calls for developed countries to send $100 billion to developing countries all on top of America’s existing and massive foreign aid payments. So we’re going to be paying billions and billions and billions of dollars, and we’re already way ahead of anybody else. Many of the other countries haven’t spent anything, and many of them will never pay one dime.

In 2015, the Green Climate Fund’s executive director reportedly stated that estimated funding needed would increase to $450 billion per year after 2020. And nobody even knows where the money is going to.

America is $20 trillion in debt. Cash-strapped cities cannot hire enough police officers or fix vital infrastructure. Millions of our citizens are out of work. And yet, under the Paris Accord, billions of dollars that ought to be invested right here in America will be sent to the very countries that have taken our factories and our jobs away from us.

Foreign leaders in Europe, Asia, and across the world should not have more to say with respect to the U.S. economy than our own citizens and their elected representatives. Thus, our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.
Our Constitution is unique among all the nations of the world, and it is my highest obligation and greatest honor to protect it. And I will.

Staying in the agreement could also pose serious obstacles for the United States as we begin the process of unlocking the restrictions on America’s abundant energy reserves, which we have started very strongly. It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic economic affairs, but this is the new reality we face if we do not leave the agreement or if we do not negotiate a far better deal.

The risks grow as historically these agreements only tend to become more and more ambitious over time. In other words, the Paris framework is a starting point — as bad as it is — not an end point. And exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States’ sovereignty and massive future legal liability. Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.

As President, I have one obligation, and that obligation is to the American people. The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.

Unless someone can prove that Trump is lying about what’s in the Accord, no sane person could rationally conclude that the Paris Accords were good for America.  The definitive proof of this, the nail in the coffin – so to speak, is the fact that it was negotiated by our former Leftist-in-Chief, Barack Hussein Obama, the most anti-American president in this nation’s history. 

The NYT’s Maureen Dowd writes,

“We’ve been conditioned by Hollywood to see the president of the United States step up to the lectern to confidently tell us how he will combat the existential threat to the planet — be it aliens, asteroids, tidal waves, volcanoes, killer sharks, killer robots or a 500-billion-ton comet the size of New York City.  So it was quite stunning to see the president of the United States step up to the lectern to declare himself the existential threat to the planet.”

Apparently Ms. Dowd has been watching movies as a way of learning about existential threats and presidential heroism.  She got goosebumps when Barack Obama was valiantly saving the planet from killer climate change.  That’s so special, isn’t it?  But seriously, what you’ll note if you read this column by this top-notch, leftwing opinion journalist for the NYT is that she didn’t rebut even a single one of the persuasive points made by Donald Trump.  Her great refutation to Trump consisted entirely of name-calling.  Is that all you’ve got, Maureen?  How pathetic.

From Sasha Abramsky at The Nation: 

“Trump Echoed Hitler in His Speech Withdrawing From the Paris Climate Accord”

Oh no, not Hitler!

From Staff Writer Lauren McCauley at Common Dreams (Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community):

“'Destructive Fossil Fuel Puppet' Trump Ditches Climate Deal with Fact-Free Speech”

But the closest McCauley’s article comes to challenging Trump’s facts was to say that, “Long-debunked fossil fuel industry talking points about lost jobs and economic "suffering" peppered the speech.”  No link to this supposedly well-known de-bunking was included with the article, naturally.

Nancy Pelosi claimed Trump was “dishonoring God” by pulling out of the Accord.  

Ruh Roh!   It seems that not volunteering to be a whipping boy for the rest of the world dishonors God but supporting abortion does not.

Bernie Sanders said, “Despite Trump’s view that he knows more than virtually the entire scientific community, the American people will move forward and do everything we can to combat the planetary crisis of climate change and I wanted you to know that.”

Everything except make any personal sacrifices, as evidenced by the fact that Sanders is jetting around the world for promotion of his new book.  Apparently “the planetary crisis of climate change” takes a backseat to making money and pursuing political power for the radical Left.

Michael Russnow, Contributor to the The Huffington Post, wrote:

“Now That Trump’s Trashed The Paris Climate Accord: Isn’t This Enough To Discuss Changing The Presidential Election System?”

Mr. Russnow gives no rebuttal whatsoever to the arguments Trump made for withdrawing from the Accord, yet he’s using this “outrage” to justify calling for a national referendum on the way we vote.  Who says there isn’t a method to the Left’s madness?  Not me!

Graham Readfearn of The Guardian wrote:

“Trump’s Paris exit: climate science denial industry has just had its greatest victory”

But Readfearn is yet another leftist who references the “long-debunked” talking points without providing any actual evidence of this famous debunking.  What’s worse is that he obsesses about the supposed denial over climate change while ignoring the economic costs, the absence of requirements for major polluters like China and India, and that tiny, best-case reward for Americans’ great sacrifice. 

The leftists have made it clear that they have no intention of ever engaging in a rational debate with respect to the many reasonable arguments Trump outlined for his decision to pull out of Paris.  Arguments which, by the way, are not Trump’s invention but are those that respected scientists, economists and other concerned Americans have been putting forth all along, only to be silenced by the Left.  Rather than engage in honest debate the Left has preferred to follow the lead of Barack Obama who arrogantly declared many times, “The debate is over.”  Our response to that declaration was the election of Donald Trump. 

I would love nothing more than to sneer that now it’s our turn to say, “The debate is over;” but the truth is that with Donald Trump holding a televised address in the White House Rose Garden to explain to Americans, point by point, why the Paris Accords were a bad deal for this country, the debate has finally just begun.  And for that I thank our president.


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