Some Common-Sense Questions

Yesterday Ben Stein posted an article at The American Spectator which discussed some of the issues dealing with the idea of reparations. He points out a few basic facts that need to be considered in discussing the idea.

The article notes:

Slavery was so hideous a crime and caused so much pain and suffering that something should be done about it. But we face a lot of problems in the concept of reparations. For one thing, there were a fair number of black people who emancipated themselves through superhumanly hard work, then used their savings to buy slaves. How do we assess their liability?

For another, the conditions of slaves varied wildly. Some were house servants and lived halfway decent lives. Others worked like myrmidons in sugar cane fields and were literally whipped to death if they faltered. How do we account for this kind of difference in degree of suffering?

For yet another, some moved north immediately and led barely normal lives as did their children and grandchildren. Others stayed in the deep south and were subject to every kind of humiliation. How do we compare how much these two different groups are owed? If a black person voluntarily stayed in a horrible Jim Crow environment, what should be his progeny’s measure of damages as compared with that of the offspring of black people who moved to Des Moines?

Also, there is a chain of causation in many cases. One black tribe attacked and captured others then the captors sold their slaves to Arab slave traders who then sold the slaves to New England slave brokers.

…Also, who would be taxed for the reparations? The great majority of white Americans never owned any slaves. Why should they be taxed? The present population of America is by a wide margin the scions of Poles and Czechs and Italians and Chinese and Jews who never owned any slaves at all. Why should they be taxed at all for reparations?

Reparations sounds good to those who believe they might receive money, but the idea bears a strong resemblance to George McGovern’s campaign promise in 1972 that if elected he would give every American $1,000 (in 1972 that was real money). We all know how that campaign promise worked out–he lost forty-nine states. At any rate, the promise of free money to those who feel they are entitled to what other people earn has long been a staple of some politicians. What all Americans need to realize is that the government has no money of its own–any money it gives away is taken from someone who earned it.

Not Really A Surprise

The American Spectator posted an article today that tells us everything we already knew about ObamaCare. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just released a report about uninsured Americans.

The article reports:

Anyone with the intestinal fortitude to subject themselves to the legacy media will have seen countless “news” stories about the devastation wrought by President Trump’s “sabotage” of Obamacare. A typical headline appeared a couple of weeks ago in the Washington Post: “Americans are starting to suffer from Trump’s health-care sabotage.” This work of fiction claimed that the number of working-ageAmericans without health insurance had risen to 15.5 percent, a 3 point increase since 2016. But a report just released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says the real number is 12.8 percent — exactly what it was in 2015.

…NBC recently reported that the total number of uninsured Americans rose by a preposterous 3.2 million in 2017. According to the CDC, however, “There was no significant change from the 2016 uninsured rate.” The percentage is, like the working age statistic, precisely what it was in 2015. NBC, parroting the Post, based its uninsured propaganda on an unreliable source.

There are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating ObamaCare. The first is that is was never about health insurance–it was about giving government control of a major sector of the American economy and a major sector of people’s lives. We have seeen how well socialized medicine works in Britain when a child isn’t even given a chance to leave the country to receive alternative medical care that could possibly save his life. ObamaCare was a planned failure that would lead to socialized medicine in America during the presidency of Hillary Clinton. We have dodged that bullet (at least temporarily).

The major change that occurred to ObamaCare this year was the end of government subsidies to insurance companies and changing rules for insurance pools to make it easier for people to get health insurance in various groups. The real answer to health insurance is the free market–let companies compete without being over-regulated and let people know how much they are actually paying for healthcare services. It would also help to end ObamaCare completely. In order to end ObamaCare completely, the Republicans would have to learn how to get their message out over the din of the mainstream media. They would also have to develop a spine.

The article concludes:

A multi-year study dubbed the “Oregon Health Experiment,” whose results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May of 2014, has demonstrated that health outcomes for Medicaid patients are no better than those enjoyed by the uninsured. Scott Gottlieb, the current Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, summarized various Medicaid studies in the Wall Street Journal and also concluded that being covered by Medicaid is demonstrably worse for your health than having no coverage at all.

The CDC report doesn’t weigh in on this issue, of course. It just attempts to show us where the uninsured rate was and where it is now. But that is damning enough. It not only shows that the projections originally touted for Obamacare were wildly off the mark — it was supposed to have brought the non-elderly uninsured rate down to 7.6 percent by 2016 — it demonstrates that the Democrats and their media co-conspirators have been lying about what the real uninsured numbers are as well as President Trump’s role in their mythical increase. Not that this is new. The Democrats and the media have been lying about Obamacare from day one.

As more Americans realize that the media has been lying to them from the beginning, we may have a chance to get rid of ObamaCare. Until then, we are stuck with it.

Agreement On Something From Both Sides Of The Political Spectrum

It’s rare when the right and left agree on anything. It is really rare when publications on the far right and the far left agree, but that has happened on the issue of rationing drugs for the elderly. This article is based on articles in The American Spectator and The Huffington Post.

The American Spectator reports:

Buried beneath the avalanche of recent news reports about the latest Obamacare-mandated funding cuts to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program is a related but far more disturbing story — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken a major step toward rationing medications to the elderly. Since passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, seniors enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program have been guaranteed access to “all or substantially all” of the drugs in several classes of pharmaceuticals. President Obama’s health care bureaucrats, however, have proposed removing three of these classes from the “protected” list.

The Huffington Post reports:

A proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would make significant changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. In short, the rule change affects what are known as the “protected classes” of pharmaceuticals under Part D — classes of drugs in which, under current law, coverage must be provided for “substantially all” medicines. The logic in maintaining these protected classes is inarguable. Medicare beneficiaries coping with serious, chronic illnesses should have access to the medications that they and their physicians have deemed the most effective treatment for their conditions.

Medications are not interchangeable. One drug can have vastly different effects, and side effects, on different patients. Thus, Medicare Part D is structured to ensure that patients who require antidepressants, antipsychotics and immunosuppressants (critical drugs for patients who have undergone organ transplants) have access to the unique medicines they need to protect their lives and health.

…The best way to make Medicare more cost-efficient is to help patients better manage their chronic illnesses and avoid long hospitalizations and expensive acute care episodes. The CMS proposed rule change will do just the opposite. Restricting access to the medicines patients need to manage depression, avoid organ transplant rejection, and treat psychosis will drive healthcare utilization in far more costly ways. That’s a betrayal of Medicare’s promise of access to care for our most vulnerable, older Americans.

The Obama Administration seems to forget that senior citizens vote. Senior citizens also pay attention. ObamaCare may have been passed with the support of the AARP, lulling seniors into a false belief that the it would not be harmful to them, but many seniors are waking up to the fact that serious cuts to Medicare are part of the President’s plan for ObamaCare. Senior citizens and Americans have been lied to about ObamaCare. It is time to repeal it and start over.

 

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What Happens When Government Interferes In Medicine

Ben Stein posted a story at the American Spectator about a recent visit to a dermatologist. The story reminds us of how much our society and the practice of medicine has changed over the past ten years.

While the doctor was out of the room, Mr. Stein checked the electronic tablet containing his medical records.

The story continues:

I’m a snoop, so while he was gone, I looked at his iPad-like device which he had left behind. It was a medical record keeping machine. It said my name (as “Benjamin,” not as “Ben” ) and then said that I had come in complaining of a rash and itching. It further said Dr. Wang has done a thorough full-scale examination of “all dermatological systems” or similar, had examined my whole body from ankles to scalp, especially my scalp. It also said I was to be charged as full exam, first time patient.

When, a minute later, Dr. Wang re-entered the room, I asked him, “I beg your pardon for snooping, but, sir, I would like to know why you said I had complained of an itchy rash. I don’t have an itchy rash and never did. I never complained about it. Why did you say you did a series of exams on me, not one of which you did? This is a medical record of things that did not happen. It is obviously a billing document.”

To his credit, Dr. Wang looked suitably embarrassed. “Oh, this is just boilerplate,” he said (or something similar). “At the end of the day I would have edited it to show I didn’t do anything much.”

“A full exam, first time patient billing under Medicare?”

“Oh, don’t mind that.” he said.

The doctor said that he would edit the report and it is assumed that he will not be billing Medicare for a full exam that he did not perform. Please follow the link above to read the entire story–it got very interesting when Ben Stein explained to the doctor who he was.

The article concludes:

I went away angry. I am sure Dr. Wang is a fine fellow. Yes, very sure. But… There are hundreds of thousands of doctors in this country and millions of appointments with patients every day. How many of them involve billing for exams that never happened? How many of them serve only the purpose of ginning up revenue for the doctors? Mr. Obama wants to consider how to lower health care costs and he’s right. But what a staggering moral-ethical-criminal problem there is in medical care today. And with what sickening contempt these medical office personnel treat us patients. It was a maddening day.

I would add that most of the doctors I see treat me extremely well. Better than I deserve. But what about the doctors who see their license to heal as a license to steal? Who watches them?

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Tuning Out The Media Hysteria Related To The Budget Sequester

Today’s American Spectator posted an article about President Obama’s comments yesterday regarding the sequestration that is due to take effect on March 1st.

The article points out:

President Obama’s federal government is slated to spend $3.6 trillion this year. That is $3,600,000,000,000. The supposedly draconian sequester will reportedly cut that by $85 billion, which is just 2%. In fact, as Mark Levin pointed out last night, the actual cuts for this year from that level are $44 billion, which is 1% of the budget.

This is the reason we need an attitude adjustment in Washington. The Washington establishment (of both parties) panic at the thought of a one percent budget cut.

National Review today quoted Rand Paul:

“It’s a pittance. It’s a slowdown in the rate of growth [of spending],” said Paul. There are “no real cuts.” He also said he voted against the sequester because he “didn’t think it was enough” since it “doesn’t really begin to cut [actual] spending.”

The ‘draconian cuts’ President Obama is talking about are not even cuts–they are simply reductions in the rate of growth.

The American Spectator reminds us:

And the sequester will help the economy, not hurt it. The sequester means the federal government will not drain another $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years out of the market economy, but leave it in the market to contribute to higher production. How does the federal government borrowing or taxing that money out of production in the private sector and using it to hire more bureaucrats, or to spend on more welfare for people who are not working and not producing, contribute to more jobs, more hiring, more economic growth, and more prosperity? It doesn’t, which is why Keynesian economics never works.

So what is going on here? The Washington culture of we want more of your money so that we can spend more is on full display.

The article at the American Spectator also reminds us that under the current tax rules, the rich do pay their fair share:

President Obama also persisted yesterday in spreading the dishonest falsehood that billionaires pay lower tax rates than theirs secretaries. That is based on a cartoon version of our tax code. CBO reports to the contrary that in 2009 the top 1% paid an average federal tax rate of 29%, while the middle 20% paid an average federal tax rate of only 11.1%, and the bottom 20% paid an average federal tax rate of 1%. We need a law that would hold President Obama personally liable when he uses the trappings of office to spread outright fairy tales.

We can solve the nation’s financial problems, but first we need to change the culture in Washington regarding spending. If we don’t do that, we will become western Europe–with permanent high unemployment rates and no money to defend ourselves (which actually is the job of the federal government).

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