Monday, August 31, 2009

Health care-funding the revolt to freedom

[This is the fourth in a series of articles dealing with the issues involved in the health care debate. For readers who wish to read or review the previous posts, here are the links: 1.) Health care needs a revolt to freedom, not socialism, 2.) Health care- what the revolt to freedom requires, 3.) A health care approach based on responsible individual freedom]

Judging by some of the responses I've received to the previous posts in this health care series, I think it's important to make it clear that the illustrative features I talked about in my last post are not suggested components of some government run health care scheme. I oppose the government takeover of the health sector. It should also be clear from the ideas I've outlined that I oppose perpetuating the third party payer system in any form, whether as a single payer government run approach, or in continuation of the existing private corporate structure. One of the keys to improving the health sector's cost efficiency is to restore the responsible decision-making role of individual payers, so that price signals in the health market once again reflect the aggregate response of buyers to the sufficiency, quality and cost efficiency of the goods and services available to them in the health marketplace.

The ideas presented are also intended to illustrate possible ways of activating another key to cost efficiency, which involves recognizing that those who seek the health sector's ultimate product (health) also play a critical role in producing it. Like production workers in any other economic sector they must accept their responsibility for carefully and efficiently executing their part in the production process. And like other production workers, they need a work environment that offers tangible incentives for them to do so.

Unfortunately the discussion of health care reform has bogged down because of proposals based on outdated nineteenth and twentieth century concepts of economic activity. According to these concepts, the world is divided between workers and owners, managers and resources (including human resources), producers and consumers. By contrast, the paradigm of twenty-first century economic activity has begun to emerge most distinctly on the internet. The very concept of networking outruns the dialecticism of the past. The components of a network are at one and the same time consumers and providers of information. As conduits for its flow, they also modify, redirect and reshape its contents for different purposes, in a way that defies and transcends the distinction between consumption and production. On this account, the very idea of 'ownership' has to acquire new flexibility, so as not to interfere with the flow, modification and exchange of information that creates the network's activities and their economic value.

Social networking internet activities like Facebook are a good illustration of this new reality. The people who turned the Facebook software engine into a profitable enterprise mainly depend on advertising for their revenues. In a sense, such sites are like fairgrounds or expositions. Because they generate a large flow of visitors businesses will pay for the privilege of advertising their goods and services to the passing crowds. However, who produces the shows and other activities that attract the crowd? It's the visitors themselves. They gather in order to show off to one another, with photos, videos, writings, conversation etc. To be sure, just as the performing artists in other media (TV or the theater for example) enjoy what they do, the performers on the social network get pleasure (entertainment value) from their participation. But they also provide the attractions that gather the crowd. They are at one and the same time performers and spectators, producers and consumers, workers who own and manage an enterprise that is, in many respects, identical with themselves.

(At the moment, by the way, the economic model for internet activities takes no proper account of this new reality. But thus far unsuccessful attempts by Facebook and others to impose fees for services that people have hitherto obtained without charge are symptoms that the existing model is facing pressures that will inevitably lead to its modification. The new model will doubtless have to recognize and make use of the fact that charges people resist when they see themselves as consumers become logical and palatable as part of a paradigm that recognizes and remunerates the indispensable contribution they make as performers and producers. As consumers, they may be loath to pay admission to be part of a performance they themselves help make possible (that's like making performers pay for admission to a benefit concert for which they freely provide all the entertainment) But if they share in the profits generated by its existence, they will more cooperatively pay something toward maintenance and operating expenses for the privilege of realizing their share of the advertising revenue that is going at present entirely to someone else.)

The idea of replacing existing insurance policies with individually owned health provident accounts aims to initiate the health sector's move to a twenty-first century paradigm of economic activity. Ironically, though it represents a major change in the administrative structure of health care finance, in other respects the funding structure for those who presently earn employer funded access to health insurance as part of their pay would remain pretty much as it is. Some questions (like portability, for instance) would take care of themselves, since individual ownership of the health provident account means that the relationship between the insurance fund manager and the individual would be unaffected by changes in employment. Employers would pay the insurance fund manager in the name of the employee, just as they do now. But just as someone's employer doesn't decide where they have their checking or savings account, the employer would not decide where the employees establish their health provident fund accounts. This would in no way prevent employers from developing and promoting plans in concert with a particular insurance fund management firm. If the resulting cost and services package was attractive enough, a large number of their employees would sensibly prefer it. But the decision between competing fund management firms would be made by the individuals themselves.

This also opens the way to the creation of contributor pools based on associations and affiliations apart from work. Individuals could form such groups drawing from people in similar circumstances in their church, their service, fraternal or sorority groups, etc. Those who work for small and medium size businesses, for example, would take whatever level of contribution they receive from their employer and go in search of others being funded at a similar level. Once a large enough initial pool has gathered, the sponsoring organization would work out terms with an insurance fund provider, just as larger employers do now. Such groups would doubtless become a permanent feature of the system, identifying themselves with people at different income levels in order to appeal for their participation. So in addition to choosing among competing insurance fund providers, individuals would choose among different contributor group plans to find a package suited to their funding level and needs. Plan groups might be named after a particular employer (the GE plan, the Ford plan, etc.) or after a particular religious denomination, union or service organization (the Southern Baptist Association plan, the AFL-CIO plan, the Kiwanis plan, etc.)

In considering all this, it's important to keep in mind that any ideas I put forward are just for illustrative purposes. The good thing about a structure that empowers people for freedom is that it gives them the opportunity to think out and explore possibilities no one else would see.

A crucial question remains to be considered. How can we make provision for the people who, for economic or other reasons, are in no position to obtain employer funding for a health provident account? There will always be people with characteristics that make them rather like the kids on the playground that nobody wants on their team. Wouldn't the government have to step in to provide the funding and negotiate a group plan on behalf of indigent, infirm or high risk individuals or families? Government funding appears unavoidable, however, only to those who assume that there are no people with surplus resources to invest who would take an interest in helping to provide for the hard cases simply because it's a chance to do some good. The world is full of the foundations and institutes launched and sustained by resources people provided for no other purpose than to do some good. Folks like Gertrude Himmelfarb have done painstaking work suggesting that such good will may be relied upon to meet certain kinds of needs.

Indeed, for centuries, the provision of health services to people in need was a particular focus of well doing in cultures under the influence of Biblical morality. In communities throughout the United States the names of hospitals and medical centers call to mind their Biblical roots (Holy Cross, Shady Grove Adventist, Lutheran Memorial, Methodist Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Good Samaritan, Cedars-Sinai and many others that make an impressive list of saints' names and Biblical places.) The remarkable thing about our time isn't that ten percent of our people may have no assured access to health services, it's that (even by the estimates the socialists use to justify a government takeover) as many as 90% do. A Significant proportion of the system that achieved this result was built and maintained by the faith and goodwill of people in the private sector. Why should we believe that a government takeover is the only way to take care of the people not yet included?

Of course, as a matter of public order, safety and happiness it's natural for the sovereign (in this case the people as a whole) to take an interest in the health facilities of the society. The first care would be to do nothing that unnecessarily constrains or creates impediments for the existence and proper functioning of those facilities. The next would be to assure against malfeasance and abuse, through the civil courts and enforcement of relevant criminal statutes. But just as people have done with respect to education since the earliest years of the republic, so with health care, it makes sense for the government to make sure that, in the exercise of its proper powers and the conduct of its activities, it favors and supports those private activities judged most conducive to the public good.

In one of the famous Federalist papers (no. 36) Alexander Hamilton alludes to the fact that it is a feature of wise tax policy to work in such a way that the surplus of the rich contributes to the activities that address the situation of those in need. He was not suggesting anything like the schemes of confiscatory income taxation the socialists are so fond of. He was discussing the fact that the imposition of excise taxes on the items of more discretionary consumption accessible to those with greater surplus resources "coincides with a proper distribution of the public burdens." Without the need to develop and sustain the costs of an expensive, cumbersome and ineffective government administration, wise tax policy can second the good impulses of private individuals. It can thereby increase and help to sustain their commitment to actions that aid those who might otherwise be neglected. Thus it fulfills the proper hope of those who wield sovereign power, which is to serve, insofar as possible, the good of all the people.

In this regard the first aim of public policy would be to encourage adoption of an approach to health insurance that restores the proper role of individual freedom and responsibility. One way to achieve this would be to exempt from Federal taxation in every respect those who adopted an approach consistent with this objective. This would include both the insurance funds themselves (both as to the individually owned accounts and the investments or other income generating activities related to the general funds) and the transactions involved in their use.

This exemption could include allowing health insurance companies to emit tax-free financial securities (similar to tax-free municipal bonds) with the particular intention of raising capital for use in funding individual accounts for the 'hard cases'. Such bonds could then be marketed with particular attention to charity minded individuals. Instead of scoffing at the idea that needs should be met through charitable giving, this policy would aim to make charity a marketable commodity, that allows good intentions to feed upon themselves in order to nourish and increase the resources available to fulfill them.

As with the desirable features sketched out in the previous article in this series, this suggestion is simply meant to illustrate an approach consistent with individual liberty and responsibility. People with greater knowledge and expertise, encouraged to think along these lines, will doubtless come up with better tailored proposals. Unfortunately, the present focus on socialist concepts doesn't offer such encouragement. Stuck in the rut of archaic nineteenth and twentieth century thinking, the current health care policy debate doesn't encourage the development of decentralized approaches based on individual goodwill and initiative, approaches that would be far more in synch with the opportunities and possibilities that can be empowered by twenty-first century networking and globally targeted niche-marketing techniques.

Aside from being more up-to-date, such twenty-first century ideas would also take account of the timeless moral principles that must be respected when dealing with life and death matters like health care. As we have noted, one of the reasons for mounting opposition to the Obama faction's socialist proposals is the perception that banal bureaucratic calculation would usurp the judgment of concerned and loving individuals when it comes to dealing with the health crises of family members and other loved ones. Though the perception attaches to particular provisions of the Obama proposal, the concern is properly raised with respect to any health care approach that displaces individual freedom and responsibility. Bureaucracies may or may not reliably make decisions that are better informed or more consistent with cost-effectiveness. They will never reliably make decisions with greater love. Love must reflect the voluntary commitment of individuals to the welfare and happiness of other individuals. The works of love transcend rules and calculations, at least in part because the rationale of love takes as its denominator a being perceived to be of infinite worth. The value of an individual's life can therefore never be quantified or measured by any ruler except the loving heart. Beyond the requirements of justice, by respecting individual freedom and responsibility we make it more likely that our approach to health care gives love its due.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Encouragement about the Notre Dame Scandal

Here is my latest WND article Encouragement about the NotreDame Scandal. Take a look, then leave a comment here to let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A health insurance approach based on responsible individual freedom

As I said in my last posting, for me to offer a health insurance proposal is rather like a weatherman offering to design a jet fighter: though he's familiar with its operating conditions, odds are that his ideas won't fly. That said, I suppose I have at least as much expertise on the subject as, say, leftist politicos like Barack Obama, an observation that emboldens me to share the thought experiment that follows.

I strongly believe that it's often a good idea to start a discussion by clarifying in simple terms exactly what it is we're talking about. Health care becomes an issue of public policy concern mainly with regard to the approach we take to paying for health services. If everyone had as much money as Bill Gates or Donald Trump, I doubt there would be much fodder for political discussion. Still, since money is so much of the issue, it might not hurt to think about how we'd handle things if we did have their resources. We'd have the freedom to do what we thought would most effectively and rationally maximize our health and longevity.

So assume for a moment that you are a person of relatively unlimited resources that you can allocate in any way you choose. Let's also assume that, being a person of good sense and will, you want to take care of your own needs and reasonable desires, while maximizing the surplus that remains to be devoted to some good that you want to achieve. Having a sane regard for you personal comfort and safety, you want to take care of your health. What would be your most reasonable course of action?

Let's say that you are start out in a state of good health. So your first concern is to maintain it. You would budget a certain amount of money for this purpose. It might include an allocation for a fitness regimen; for developing and maintaining a healthy diet; and for regular consultations with health professionals (fitness coach, diet specialist, personal physician) who use appropriate measures to check your overall state of health. Let's call this the health maintenance allocation. Your budget might also include money that you may need in order to deal with emergencies (in the broadest sense) including accidents and occasional bouts of illness. Ideally this allocation would be reserved in the form of some productive investment, so that the money involved, though readily available, would be fruitful and multiply as time passed.

In addition to this basic budget, you might designate an additional amount meant to accrue value over the longer term. This would ideally provide the wherewithal to handle the anticipated inevitable effects of aging, as well as longer term care that might be for chronic, incapacitating illness or during the period of acute decline prior to natural death.

Given your relatively unlimited resources, more extreme and hard to anticipated emergencies would have to be handled by extra budgetary allocations, taken out of the surplus that would normally be devoted to such other good as you are trying to achieve.

Now, most people don't have relatively unlimited resources. Some might be in a position to maintain a reasonable budget for ordinary health related expenses, but many would have trouble dealing with foreseeable health emergencies, much less the more extreme exigencies. Any extra budgetary allocations would probably have to be financed by borrowing. But people with relatively little surplus income beyond what's needed to maintain their everyday life are limited in their ability to service debt, especially in the large amounts that might suddenly be needed to meet a health emergency. At any given moment, however, the risk that any given individual will face such an emergency is relatively small. Spread that risk over a sufficient number of people, and the burden of meeting it in any given case can be met by a fund replenished through small, regular contributions that each of them can afford. Thus the basic concept of emergency health insurance emerges. It's intended to allow people who must live on a wage or other regular but limited income to provide for needed health services that they could otherwise not afford.

Though we call it insurance because of the fund's purpose, we should keep in mind that it is actually much like a special purpose savings bank. Like any such bank, some of its income is properly generated from prudent investment of part of its available resources. Thus its gross income for any given period consists of the total amount of the regular individual contributions plus interest or dividends derived from investment. The total value of the fund at any given time includes, in addition to operational balances, the total value of the invested capital. For any given period, the bank may generate a surplus that consists of the total income for that period minus the sum of its operating costs and any outlays for health emergencies during that period.

Looked at in this way, we immediately notice one difference between the operation of the insurance savings scheme and other kinds of savings banks. At other banks, those who provide the funds the bank uses for lending and other investments receive some interest on their deposits. If they leave them untouched, the value of these deposits increases over time. Depositors therefore have a certain incentive to leave them untouched, in order to maximize their growth. In effect, the bank's profits, in any given period, are divided between the owners of the bank and its depositors, who own the accounts that constitute the bulk of the bank's liquid assets.

The contributors to the insurance fund do not 'own' or derive income from the total amount accounted for by their contributions during any given period. Their premiums pay for the right to borrow from the fund to meet any health emergencies that occur during the period.

In comparison with a savings bank, however, the insuring bank has less control over the amount the bank may be called upon to lend during any given period; they also can't control the relationship between the amount they lend to any given individual and the total amount of the regular contributions they receive from that individual after the emergency has been handled. They can't be sure the loan will be fully repaid (much less any interest that would otherwise accrue.) To compensate for this, they must have a stream of new income from a) new contributors signing on to the fund; b) the bank's investments; c) sale of stock in the company. They must also find ways to manage the overall risk distributed among their contributors so that the fund continues to grow enough to prevent shortfalls on account of any individuals from gradually reducing the fund below the level needed to fulfill its obligation to pay (at any given time) for the needed health services of its contributors.

Assuming however that all this is done competently, (and that unexpectedly adverse conditions do not consume its income producing assets) the insurance savings (or fund management) scheme (what we, somewhat misleadingly, call the insurance provider) could generate a profit over time. As things stand that profit goes entirely to the owners and/or stockholders of the bank. After all, they provide the critically important initial and ongoing capitalization needed to launch and sustain the insurance scheme. But without garnering sufficient contributors to form an adequate risk pool, would the scheme work for very long? Probably not; it would become a rather expensive and short lived form of charitable giving. The money derived from individual contributions, as well as the health and behavior of the individual contributors, form an essential part of its real and ongoing capitalization.

Given this fact, as well as our overall goal of respecting individual liberty (choice and responsibility) in dealing with health matters, does it make sense to leave the whole incentive for managing risk to the banking institution? For better or worse, the individual's behavior contributes to the success or failure of the risk management task. Under present arrangements, some efforts are made to enlist individual cooperation by offering lower contribution requirements (premiums) in exchange for certain behavior modifications. But the accrued value of this incentive is hidden, so that it is psychologically consumed almost at once, and rapidly decreases even further over time. Wouldn't it be more effective (since an ongoing commitment is needed) to offer incentives in a form that persists and grows in perception over time, so that as individuals maintain a state of health that keeps down their withdrawals from the general fund, they see an appreciable increase in the value of the incentive?

Without such an appreciably increasing incentive, as healthy people contribute to the general insurance fund, the perceived value they derive from it decreases in direct proportion to their success in staying healthy. In effect, their good health over any given period subsidizes the outlays made for those who have less successful health maintenance records during that period. The longer their good health lasts, the greater the total amount of this subsidy. In terms of value for money, there is actually an incentive after a certain time, to become more casual about resorting to health services, less prone to reflect much on the real necessity for doing so.

Given this perverse incentive structure, why do we marvel at the present insurance system's tendency to generate higher outlays? How can we alter this incentive structure to reward people who maintain their health, so that the longer they sustain their successful health record, the larger the reward's value to them appears to be? The answer is simple: their good health habits must be seen to contribute to their accrued assets over time so that sustained health translates into increased wealth, thereby encouraging their commitment to healthy behavior.

By combining the wealthy individual's common sense approach to maximizing the surplus available to do other good things, with an insurance fund incentive structure that maximizes individual contributors' commitment to good health habits, we arrive at a health insurance approach that might have features like this:

  • Coverage of all aspects of basic health maintenance including the maintenance of good fitness and diet regimens and routine check-ups.
  • Premiums that, in addition to producing regular operating funds and the money needed to meet the costs of contributors' basic health maintenance services generate the surplus needed in any given period to meet foreseeable health emergencies.
  • A category of additional premiums going into a separate fund reserved for a) acute emergencies and health situations requiring longer term care; b) the increased costs associated with the inevitable health effects of aging and/or the special care required during the decline toward death.
  • All regular premiums to be credited to individually denominated, interest bearing checking accounts, associated with an interest free health credit line capped at an appropriately determined quarterly limit. Individuals agree to pay for all health related expenses with funds disbursed from this account. Emergencies requiring disbursements beyond the predetermined credit cap would require a limit increase approved by the insurance fund manager according to a predetermined schedule of step increases, up to the limit set for foreseeable health emergencies. Beyond that limit, disbursements would come from funds obtained out of the acute emergency/longer term care fund.
  • All acute emergency/longer term care premiums to be credited to individually denominated, interest bearing money market checking accounts, with disbursements according to the model established for the regular premium account, but with a separate schedule of disbursement caps.
  • Unused balances in the individually denominated accounts, plus interest accrued, would rollover and accumulate from quarter to quarter.
  • A schedule of discounts would be applied to premiums in one or the other, or both categories, related to an individual's commitment to maintain a fitness and dietary regimen developed and supervised by health professionals and facilities chosen by the contributor, but approved and accredited by the insurance institution. The regimen would include regular evaluations and reports (based on agreed upon measures and areas of evaluation) as to the individuals' active compliance with their regimen's fitness and dietary provisions.
  • A schedule of interest rates for the interest bearing accounts such that the rate increases in relation to the length of time a) the individual successfully maintains the commitment to an appropriate dietary and fitness regime; and b) maintains a state of health and fitness within predefined age appropriate parameters.

This list of features is obviously intended mainly for illustrative purposes. In considering them, it's important to keep in focus the objective at which they aim, which is to eliminate third party administration of the disbursement of health funds, placing choice and responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the individuals who actually experience the provided health services. At the same time, the incentives connected with individual ownership and wealth creation are mobilized to encourage individual behavior that improves health prospects while reducing casually inconsiderate drains on overall health fund reserves. There are probably other and better features with which to achieve these objectives. The advantage of advocating freedom, rather than socialist government control, is that creative individuals and institutions are left free to think through and implement them. The key to defending their freedom, however, is to fund the individually owned accounts the incentive structure requires in a way that respects the power and prerequisites of a free market, while providing effectively for the hard cases that the socialists claim only coercively raised tax dollars can insure. In the next and final installment of this series we'll consider where that key (or at least a serviceable impression of it) may be found.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Health care-what the revolt to freedom requires

Once we shift the focus of the health care discussion from caring for sickness to preserving health, one thing becomes clear immediately. If we wish to remain a free people, health care cannot be the government's business. Though would-be tyrants like Obama want us to forget it, lawful coercion (the force of law) is what ultimately distinguishes government work from other group activities. It makes sense to say that we will force people to be healthy only if our concept of human integrity (healthy human life or existence) includes slavery. But as Americans we long ago rejected this possibility because it is inconsistent with respect for the God ordained unalienable rights that are an essential aspect of human being, i.e., what it means to be what we are. Slaves may or may not have healthy bodies, but slavery cannot be a healthy human condition.

By beginning with this observation, we are led to reflect on the comprehensive meaning of human health- one that goes beyond the material condition of the human body to include the mental and spiritual aspects of human life. Undoubtedly, many diseases appear to be the result of merely material causes. But which merely material cause makes the difference between one person with the will to eat right, resist health impairing habits and keep up a healthy level of physical activity, and another who lacks the will? What merely material cause makes the difference between one person doggedly determined to battle cancer or infection for the sake of life, and another who confronts the same physical threats with despairing lassitude, or peaceful acceptance?

Sickness may be a material condition but health is also a state of mind. As such it is susceptible to material, mental and spiritual influences. These days it's not uncommon for people to pay lip-service to this fact. But when we consider the main preoccupations of the so-called health care proposals being debated at the moment, do any of them take it seriously in a positive way?

To do so requires that we respect the role that human will, conscience and spirit have to play in the critical decisions that influence a person's state of health. It requires that we accept individual choice and responsibility as the first premise of any health care approach. Though many opponents of the Obama faction's proposed socialist takeover decry its implications in this regard, how many of them are honest enough to admit that the third-party payer system it would replace just as surely eviscerates the exercise of responsible individual choice in any meaningful sense?

Responsible choices take account of both the benefits derived from a decision, and the costs it involves. But the third party payer system puts individuals in no position to do so. Sure, they choose an insurance plan. But at the point of delivery, they lack both the information and the incentive to react effectively to the relationship between the service they receive and the price set for it. This deficiency has at least two bad effects: a) Providers have little incentive to respect the power of individual clients; b) individuals have little incentive to resent or appreciate the price paid for the quality of service they receive.

Since it breaks the price/perceived quality ratio, the third party payer insurance system abandons a vital prerequisite of any free market system. It breaks the cost governing mechanism that generally allows the market to achieve equilibrium at a point of price efficiency that reflects informed, responsive decisions by the individuals whose activities make up its existence. These individuals are replaced by corporate (or government) bureaucracies driven by control/management and profit/budgetary preoccupations that have, at best, only a coincidental relationship to the actual price/quality ratio of any particular service transaction. How can it be anything but coincidental when it excludes from reckoning the perceived experience of the particular individuals involved.

As the result of what we might call this coincidental price structure, system resources are distributed with little or no regard for perceived cost-effectiveness. It's like running a restaurant based on aggregate decisions (how much of what kind of food to buy, how big a wait staff to hire and at what wage, how much to charge for each different menu item, etc.) that take little or no account of how individual patrons react to the service or the taste of the food. Meanwhile, individuals pay a flat fee to eat at the restaurant, choosing from menus with no prices on them. (The bill is sent to a company that insures access to restaurant services. Doubtless it began as a provider of starvation insurance for the cooking impaired.)

All these reflections point to what ought to be the first set of goals for a health focused approach to health care:

  • It must respect the mental and spiritual as well as material aspects of health, beginning with the human right to liberty i.e., responsible individual choice.
  • It must therefore be based upon a resource collection and distribution system that respects the requirements of liberty i.e., responsible individual choice.
  • As things stand in America today, this means a) rejecting any socialist, single payer, government administered system; b) establishing a health insurance system that respects the prerequisites of a true marketplace; c) abandoning the third party payer approach in favor of one that recognizes individuals the as owners of the dollars expended for the health care services they receive, with full responsibility for the disbursement of those dollars at the point of service. This requires that individuals perceive themselves as directly gaining or losing value from all such dollars as they are expended.
In my next posting, I'll discuss some of the features that might be part of an approach to health care that reflects these goals. Be advised, though, that I won't be offering "my" health care proposal. The notion that people like me, whose main vocation has to do with the responsibilities of citizenship (the proper definition of politics) should be the source of remedies for health care is a symptom of how far the totalitarian socialist mentality has corrupted our common sense. However, because considerations of justice are relevant to all human affairs, I can try to make a useful contribution to thinking about how the possible features of a health care approach relate to the principles of justice that inform our identity as Americans. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Health care needs a revolt to freedom, not socialist 'sickness care' reform

For years I have made the point that the key problem with discussing our so-called health care system is that we don't have one. The system focuses mainly on taking care of people when they get sick. It's a sickness care system. This system ends up producing two things: more sickness and ever-increasing costs. This makes sense, since the people who own and work the system mainly derive their income from sick people.

Think of the old Maytag commercials, featuring a Maytag repairman with too much time on his hands, because Maytag washers rarely break down. The manufacturers could afford to make a joke of his idleness. Demand for their products didn't depend, in the first instance, on mechanical breakdowns, but on the endless supply of dirty clothes. But the sickness care sector is rather like the repairman. Its income depends on the possibility and frequency of breakdowns.

Unlike the demand for washing machines, however, the demand for a properly functioning human body doesn't rise in relation to some other product. The body has an intrinsic value, like the human being whose existence in this world depends upon it. But just as they take existence for granted until it's threatened, people generally tend to take the body for granted until it's ailing. Then they seek the services of someone who can restore its proper functioning. This obviously complicates the incentives of the person who has the necessary expertise. Though he gets paid to make people well, they are by and large only inclined to seek his services when they get sick. In which does he have the greater interest, their sickness or their health?

Considered simply as a matter of selfish calculation, the medical expert is likely to profit most from a situation in which people who are prone to get sick see him as the source of a sure and effective remedy for what ails them. As Socrates points out from time to time in the Platonic dialogues, this leads to a dangerously ironic situation for his potential clients. The medical expert has the knowledge to cure them, but he may also have a strong motive to use that knowledge to make sure they don't stay healthy. Oddly enough, the result would correspond to the one we've been getting from our sickness care system- people clamoring for what they perceive as effective care while overall becoming more and more susceptible to disease. Meanwhile, budgets are strained as more and more money flows toward the sickness care sector.

Of course in ancient times this result was not as pronounced as it is today because medical experts weren't so good at dealing with sickness. Once someone got sick, the experts soon reached the limits of their ability to do more than palliate his suffering. The techniques of modern science have produced breakthroughs in sickness care that allow contemporary experts to do a better job of treatment in many areas, particularly those susceptible to surgical intervention or the use of antibiotic drugs. But this success has produced another less desirable result: medical expertise that focuses on sickness. Because ancient experts were less successful at dealing with sickness, they put greater emphasis on keeping people healthy. They focused more attention on understanding the dietary and exercise regimens that increased health and vigor. Though pain relief and sickness cures certainly played a role in their livelihood, the best advertisement for their wisdom was the strength and health of the people who followed their advice, not the excited praise of those they cured of disease.

More limited knowledge led to greater humility. They ascribed miracles cures rather to divine power than their own sophistication, which gave their profession a tinge of something more akin to religion than what we today would call science. Medical experts were seen as followers of a divine path or way, with a mystical component that also addressed the issue of trust implied by the double-edged quality of their motivation. They were oath bound not to follow the promptings of cynical calculation, and therefore to place the good of their patient above their own selfish advantage. These days we still assume the existence of this moral framework. Given the elite embrace of moral relativism, and its quiet contempt for religious truth, God knows why we do.

Be that as it may, these reflections help us to understand the fatal flaw in the present debate over the future of the medical services sector: it takes a deceptive rubric of analysis as the basis for discussion. This is due in part to the deceptive language characteristic of the discussion. We talk about access to health care, when sickness care is the real product. Terrified by the economic implications of its rising costs, we tacitly accept the deadly necessity for rationing, now going so far as to propose targeting the elderly and infirm to bear the burden of budgetary constraints. Suspecting the profit motives of those who own and work in the sickness care sector, we are also increasingly tempted by socialist proposals that would enslave them to our needs, allowing us to keep costs down by dictating the terms of their remuneration. Meanwhile, we neglect even to discuss the true source of the cost push- which is the rising tide of sickliness (preoccupation with disease), that increases the demand for sickness care despite the much touted breakthroughs of medical science.

I have long argued that we won't arrive at, or even conceive of, approaches that turn the situation around until we reject the assumption that sickness care is an acceptable product for the health services sector. The rubric and aim of health services should be health. The measure of success in the health sector must cease to be the amount, distribution and financing of treatment for sickness. Instead, we should focus on what keeps more people healthier for longer periods of time; what strengthens them in mind and body; what feeds and encourages their will to live, and their understanding and implementation of the discipline needed to serve that will effectively.

This amounts to a Copernican shift in the way we conceive of and analyze the health sector challenge. Tomorrow I'll outline a number of relatively simple and straightforward goals that come into focus as a result of this shift, goals that provide a basis for a true revolution in the meaning of, and provision for, our society's health concerns. The key to that revolution is responsible, individual freedom, not a socialist takeover.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Birther or Deather- which would you rather be?

A Meditation Especially for Fellow Christians (and those willing to think so.)

Much of my thought and writing in recent days has, not surprisingly, focused on the events and issues involved in the current battle over the national, socialist takeover of the health care sector being engineered by the Obama faction. Though a discussion of health should focus on how best to strengthen and preserve life, I am struck by the deep preoccupation with killing and death the Obama faction's proposals have forced upon us.

For all his hollow rhetoric of hope and compassion, the inescapable essence of Obama's actions reveals that killing and death are the foundation stones of his political vision. To reduce health care costs he proposes to establish institutions and practices that pressure the elderly and infirm toward self-abnegation and self-harvesting. To advance his political ambition he promotes as rightful action the killing of innocent children in the earliest stages of life. To gratify the demands of the licentious elite that has made him their idol of self-worship, he works to clear the way for those who seek to legitimize an understanding of human sexuality that encourages individuals to turn away from the responsibilities of natural procreation. Thus he extends the shadow of death through self-extinction to the whole human race.

Pope John Paul the Great roused Christians to recognize and reject the culture of death. Today there can be no doubt that Barack Obama is its great High Priest. The platform of the Presidency offers him unparalleled opportunities to promote it, and to draw the American people ever deeper into complicity with its rejection of the Creator's authority and intention. Ironically, those who demand an investigation into the inadequate credentials Obama has offered as proof of his Constitutional eligibility to wield the power of the Presidency, have been derided as 'birthers' by detractors who openly or covertly adhere to the cult of death he represents.

Though intended for derision, the term may aptly apply to people like me. After all, we fight to vindicate the right of birth for every child conceived in the mind of the Creator, God. We fight to preserve society's obligation by law to respect the natural family that is the first belonging and birthright of every human being. We fight to defend respect for the understanding of right and justice that requires all legitimate government to secure the unalienable rights inherent in the Creator's conception of our humanity.

Why do the deriders think we should cringe and be ashamed when they call us by an epithet that brings to mind our faithful allegiance to the truths upheld in America's great Declaration of Independence? I would rather be an advocate of life and birth, than a cultist of child murder and self-inflicted death. I would rather be held up for ridicule as a 'birther' than identified with the 'deathers' who idolize Obama at the expense of truth and reason, offering themselves as the vanguard of the future of tyranny and human self-immolation he represents.

The term 'deather' is not original with me, of course. I have seen or heard it elsewhere. But I am more and more taken with the aptness of the term. The specter and promotion of death lurks somewhere in every element of the Obama faction's agenda. I remember in particular the pro-abortion women who were demonstrating at Notre Dame. They sought to drown out the words and witness of people gathered to decry the homage being done to the idol of death by university administrators falsely identifying themselves with faith in the Tree of Life that is Jesus Christ. "Without abortion rights, women cannot be free," they chanted. This mantra truly epitomizes the principle Obama means to substitute for the self-evident truths on which America bases its understanding of freedom, beginning with the unalienable right to life. It clearly outlines the real import of the choice Americans face.

Which are we: a people that defines its freedom in terms of our obligation to respect the right to life, and the natural responsibility for procreation and self-government it entails; or a people that defines its freedom in terms of the right to murder our offspring, thereby rejecting the natural obligation of parents to love and care for their children and of children to respect and care for the lives of their aging parents?

Are we 'birthers' looking before and after to the origin of life in God's goodwill; or 'deathers' who assault the living image of God that represents His goodwill toward our humanity, so as to revel momentarily in the false similitude with God that appears seductively (to us as to Eve, the mother of us all) in the choice to transgress its provisions?

Deathers shall be delivered ( first in the throes of seeming pleasure and proud self-approval, but then forever grieving) from the body of this death to the inconsolable similitude of dying without end. Who cares to join them, while the Tree of Life still beckons, while Christ is standing nigh? I pray God it is not you or I.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Whites of Their Lies

The Obama faction's drive to consolidate totalitarian, national, socialist control of key sectors of American life is stirring up some strong negative feelings in many Americans. The self-righteous, 'How-dare-you-question-me' tone in which many Obama faction pols have lashed out at critics has aggravated their resentment. So have the bully-boy tactics intended to discourage people from attending public meetings to voice their concerns.

If the Obama faction’s strategists thought these tactics would make Americans whimper and scurry back to their hidey-holes, they were sadly mistaken. Americans can be ferrets when it comes to truth, but some are more like mountain lions when roused to battle by tyrannical bullies. In the landscape of twentieth century history, pillars of smoke rising from the ruins of their would-be empires mark the burned out pyres of tyrant –isms and self-worshiping individuals who made the same mistake.

This history is so well known though, that I find it hard to believe the Obama strategists failed to take account of it. On the contrary, the deployment of SEIU blue-shirts and tax-funded ACORN rent-a-crowds is intended to provoke a John Wayne reaction. The ensuing brawl becomes their excuse to abuse the color of law in order to move against and criminalize their opposition. In their so-called ‘hate-crimes’ legislation they have already successfully positioned the logic of repression that will allow them to argue that any criticism of their actions or policies is part of a syndrome of violence that makes dissident speech as criminal as the actions they will claim it inspires.

The Obama Faction’s media claque is already preparing the way for this overt repression in their coverage of events. There are legitimate concerns about the implications of armed civilians in the vicinity of events involving the present occupant of the White House. But some reports have used blatant race baiting tactics, doubtless intended to stir up fear and anger among Black Americans. During a segment on MSNBC one anchor wondered “whether this has a racial overtone. I mean here you have a man of color in the Presidency and white people showing up with guns…” Now, as seen in the following video clip, the man who was the focus of the episode being discussed happened to be “a man of color” firmly opposed to the Obama faction’s proposed national socialist takeover of health care:

The MSNBC report has an aspect of ruthlessly contrived and deceitful manipulation, brought home when we notice the careful editing that made sure viewers were not allowed to see that the supposed ‘white racist’ was in fact a calm, self-controlled “man of color” well informed as to his constitutional and legal rights. I imagine the Obama media propagandists would also want us to forget the footage of a black t-shirt vendor as he described being physically assaulted by SEIU blue-shirts outside a town hall gathering in St. Louis. Once provocation has served its purpose, it best serves the strategy of repression that it be forgotten.

What those of us who care for liberty cannot afford to forget is that the Obama Faction’s strategy for repression creates a treacherous context for our efforts to defend it. Not everyone who appears to exercise their constitutional and legal rights will have the obviously sincere intention and demeanor of the civilian in the video above. People whose media henchman fashion deceitful contrivances are obviously of a mind to stage events intended to justify the repression for which they have so studiously set the scene. They are students of Alinsky, Stalin, Lenin, Engels and Mao. Following the advice of ideological strategists like Antonio Gramsci, they have studied the tactics of Hitler and Mussolini. They know what it means to “burn the Reichstag”, and “round up the usual suspects”. Given their fanatic following among the elites in the so-called news and entertainment media, they also have access to the expertise routinely deployed to make fabricated fantasies gleam with the hard edge of reality. Their productions could make Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph” a mere footnote in the history of manipulative propaganda. (Of course, if the tromp l’oeil, “burning of the Reichstag” effect is successful only future historians will know them for what they are.)

In the fight against slavery Frederick Douglas made good use of Byron's famous words "Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow." But as a free people striving to defend liberty against insidious overthrow, we will do well to study Abraham Lincoln’s statesmanship. History remembers the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter as the start of the Civil War. Sometimes those intent on defending liberty must carefully let the opposition be seen to strike the first blow. The arms bearing civilian in the video is certainly right when he makes clear that to keep our rights we must exercise them. But there are times when that exercise is best deployed as the punctuation mark at the end of a sentence that prepares free people to defend themselves, but advises them to wait, as America’s Founding patriots are said to have done, “until you see the whites of their eyes.” Though in our case it may be the (bought and paid for, fictional, ‘racist’) whites of the (Obama Faction's propaganda) lies.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What Obama’s Two-Faced position on Marriage Reveals

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that's not what America's about. Usually, our constitutions expand liberties, they don't contract them."

"My Christian faith compels me to acknowledge that marriage was instituted by God as an exclusively heterosexual covenant," Sen. Obama said. "In fact, the California constitution's preamble actually affirms God's sovereignty saying, "We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution."

"However," he said, "when the courts determine that a constitution, under God, permits something God forbids, the Harvard law school grad in me has to respect that. I believe the people pushing Proposition 8 are wrong to try to ban a practice that I also think is wrong, by changing a constitution that acknowledges God's in charge in order to prevent something God opposes."

(Barack Obama response to MTV, 9/1/2008)

In order to keep susceptible Christian voters (including many Black Americans) from suspecting his leadership, Barack Obama has flaunted his belief in God, and pretended to have views that align with Christian teachings. This pretense has been particularly on display when it comes to his statements about marriage. You see, he's not in favor of gay marriage. He's just against any effort to prevent it from being forced upon resistant majorities throughout the United States.

Like his position on child-murder, this stance repeats the corrupted logic characteristic of nineteenth century Whig politicians anxious to curry favor with pro-slavery forces without losing votes from anti-slavery constituents. The pro-slavery forces were determined to prevent States with anti-slavery majorities from interfering by law with the spread of slavery. Meanwhile, they worked to secure a Supreme Court ruling that would enshrine slave ownership as a constitutionally protected property right. This was the gist of the pro-slavery conspiracy Abraham Lincoln shrewdly espied in his famous "House Divided' speech (from which I recently quoted the relevant conclusion.)

Like those not altogether deceitful antebellum Whig politicos, Obama wears two masks. Of course, neither represents his true face. For example, he pretends to respect the requirements of loving human relationships. Meanwhile, he pushes a health proposal that would substitute impersonal calculations and bureaucratic formulas for decisions that reflect the loving relations that are supposed to exist between children and their aging parents or grandparents. He makes a show of respect for the existence of God, and even alludes to the people's grateful acknowledgment of God' authority as the source of freedom. But meanwhile, he systematically denies the obligation of the people conscientiously to respect God's authority in their use of the freedom they obtain from Him.

We get a glimpse of Obama's true face, however, when he makes clear that the attitude that governs his thinking is not his respect for people, his respect for God or his respect for constitutions established in light of God's authority. It is subservience to the dogmas inculcated by his Harvard Law School education. This includes the self-serving doctrine that, once they become judges, lawyers like himself can dictate the content of constitutions and laws regardless of the will of God or the consent of the people.

Obama pretends to believe in God while denying, in practice, the sovereignty of God. What else are we to make of the obnoxious doctrine that it's "wrong to try to ban a practice…in order to prevent something God opposes." According to the Ten Commandments, God opposes murder, theft and perjury. Is it wrong to try to ban such practices? Obviously not; but in all fairness, Obama doesn't say it's wrong to ban them. He says that it's wrong to ban them "in order to prevent something God opposes." The wrongness consists in the aim or intention to respect the will of God.

As all Christians know, Christ says that we should seek first the kingdom of God, i.e., the place where God is sovereign. The primary motive of Christian action is therefore respect for God's sovereignty. Obama claims to be a Christian. Yet he declares that it's wrong for people to act "in order to prevent something God opposes." He says it's wrong for them to act with the aim or motive Christ prescribes as the first priority of Christian conscience.

Clearly, Obama believes that in the political realm it's wrong to be motivated by respect for God's sovereignty; in the political realm, it's wrong to acknowledge God's will as the basis for action. Now, our motive is that which gives rise to our motions, the will in consequence of which motion takes place. But what has life without motion? What indeed, except for God. According to Christian belief, God set the universe in motion. He is the source of all creation. So all living things move and have their life in consequence of His will. As Creator, ruler and judge of the universe His authority is invoked in the political document that first declared the independence of the United States.

For all his lip service to God, Obama takes the contrary position that the political realm somehow lies outside of God's kingdom. Political action may not properly be based on an effort to "prevent what God opposes", i.e., keep action within the limits or boundaries established by God. But once we have discarded the notion that it is right to respect the limits upon action implied by God's will, what becomes of the principle that confines the exercise of government power within limits that secure the God-ordained rights of individuals? What becomes of the people's obligation before God to act in order to prevent the destruction of those rights? What becomes of the discipline and courage connected with their sense of that obligation? Where God-ordained right is not respected, can God-given rights be maintained?

Though articulated in the context of a discussion of so-called 'gay marriage', Obama's position involves rejecting the premise of God-given and unalienable rights that is the foundation of constitutional government. It reveals the true face hidden beneath the masks he fashions to serve his ambition. It is a face distorted by the lust for raw, unbridled power. It is the face characteristic of those who dream of a world in which triumphant power has once and for all slipped the leash of conscience, a leash made effective by the people's willingness to act from motives that respect and rely upon the sovereign power of God. Tragically for America, the world they dream of will be one in which there is no freedom left except the freedom to be enslaved, by our undisciplined fears and passions, to the tyrants who most successfully manipulate them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Defeating the Obama Faction's Personal Threat to Freedom

Tom Sowell's article "Is 'death panels' charge over the top?" is one of those concise, factual, faultlessly logical pieces that make his work a consistently indispensable intellectual resource. He cuts through the deceptive phrases being used to disguise the unpalatable truth about the Obama faction's drive to take over the health sector of the U.S. economy. He uses Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel's own words to make clear that when the Obama faction's apologists say their proposals target the "over-utilization" of Health care services what they have in their sights "is not quantity but quality."

"At one time, it would have been none of Dr. Emanuel's business if your physician prescribed the latest medications for you, rather than the cheaper and obsolete medications they replaced. It would have been none of his business if you preferred to have a nice hospital room with "amenities" rather than being in an unsanitary ward with inadequate nursing care, as under the National Health Service in Britain. The involvement of government gives Dr. Emanuel the leverage to condemn other Americans' choices- and a larger involvement of government will give him the power to force both doctors and patients to change their choices."

Sowell's analysis reveals the takeover strategy that informs every element of the national socialists' policy agenda. Under the guise of compassion and a desire to help people in need, they propose approaches that rely on tax funded government resources. The involvement of those resources naturally leads to the assertion that a larger government role is both logical and necessary to guard against waste and malfeasance. This government role leverages its control of the activity in question, removing choice from private entities and individuals to political bosses and government bureaucrats.

The Obama faction's bid for control of the health sector has for a moment opened the eyes of many Americans, allowing them momentarily to glimpse the true nature and goals of the national socialists (so-called "liberals" among the Democrats, so-called "moderates" among the Republicans.) But will these awakened Americans think through what this flash of perception has allowed them to see?

According to the old saying, 'the devil is in the details'. And it's true that the threat to our health care freedom has been revealed by careful attention to the details of the voluminous "reform" legislation. (Like the so-called 'stimulus' bill it was purposefully made long and involved to discourage attention to those details.) But the legislation isn't threatening because of its details. The details are threatening because the real purpose of the legislation has never been to improve health services, but to subvert and ultimately eliminate America's freedom.

The health proposals ultimately deal with matters of life and death personally critical to many Americans. In this context, the threat to freedom feels very personal, the danger it poses very real and intimate. But is the national socialists' takeover of the banking system any less so? Is their takeover of education any less so? Is their bid to eliminate the right to keep and bear arms any less so? Is the so called 'cap and trade' legislation to allow a national socialist government monopoly to ration pursuit and distribution of energy resources any less so? Is the national socialists' surrender of our sovereign control of the nation's borders any less so?

We should feel personally endangered by each and all of these supposedly well-intentioned "reforms". How can any of them be well-intentioned when all of them arise from the intention to impose government control. They use tax funded government resources, and/or the rhetoric of "progress", "equity" and "reform", as baited hooks with which to entice Americans toward the fatal surrender of their choices, their responsibilities, their freedom.

But the greatest personal threat arises from the suppression of the very idea that we are "persons"- individuals whose existence represents the assertion of intrinsic worth, and whose lives cannot rightly be regarded as mere objects for scientific calculation and administration. This disregard of human personality is the deep perversion of moral conscience that lies at the root of the Obama faction's embrace of child murder through abortion and infanticide. It lies at the root of their effort to create a regime that pressures older people to surrender their will to live. It lies at the root of their abandonment of the American principles of justice that recognize unalienable human rights. It lies at the root of their disregard for the just requirement that government be based on the liberty of the people, not the will of supposedly enlightened elites arrogantly acting as if elections make them our rulers rather than our representatives.

If the Obama faction's bid to take over health care has truly opened the eyes of the Americans who feel personally threatened by it, then in the months to come they will unite- not only in opposition to this or that proposal with which they disagree, but in a simple, unyielding determination to reject the strategy for socialist tyranny all these proposals represent. The devils may be lurking in the details. But we won't find safety by joining them there. To find safety, we must cast them out.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama –The Equal Opportunity Hater?

WND reports that "Glenn Beck fans are fighting back... "against an Obama faction effort to destroy the advertiser base for Beck's Fox News commentary program. "Now a husband and wife team of Beck fans has launched a that lists the contact information for advertisers for Beck's and other Fox News programs…" Though the Obama faction effort purports to be a reaction to Beck's remark that Obama "has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture," I suspect that their real motivation has more to do with the role he has played as a focal point for opposition to the Obama faction's drive to subject the United States to a totalitarian national socialist regime. People who oppose their intention should do more than applaud the defenders of Beck's freedom of speech; they should pitch in and help them out.

That said, I find myself unable to agree with Beck's statement about Obama's anti-white attitudes. Casting Obama as some kind of anti-white racist re-enforces the false notion that he speaks from or in any way represents the aggrieved heart of black Americans, the heart that tragically leads some black people (like Henry Gates and other members of the leftist black elite) to wallow incessantly in the world of hurt connected with what they feel is the persistent reality of white racism in America. All too often, however, the wallowing has an ironic "the lady doth protest too much" (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2) quality about it: Blacks who enjoy all the benefits and prestige American society can offer, using exaggerated gestures of condemnation of white racism to affirm their continued identification with the plight of other, less favored blacks. Is their show of angry resentment for the benefit of those less favored, or does it mainly serve to exploit (for "professional" purposes?) the embarrassed guilt that still influences the actions of so many other Americans who wish conscientiously to deal with the nation's heritage of racial injustice, fear and mistrust?

Barack Obama surely epitomizes this ironic exploitation of racial embarrassment. It was, and continues to be, a ruthlessly deployed weapon in his arsenal for political warfare. Consider for example elements of the Obama faction who now absurdly claim that people who notice and declare Obama's commitment to totalitarian national socialism are doing so because he's black. Actually, Obama's commitment to totalitarian socialism is more likely related to the emotional role and influence of anti-American leftists (e.g., his mother, Frank Davis, Bill Ayers) in his life and upbringing than to the facts of his racial biology.

After his father abandoned him, these communist/leftist figures provided emotional compensation for that abandonment. Did they redirect the pain and resentment it occasioned away from his father? Did their ideological fervor refocus it instead against the supposedly unjust American economic and political system? The hatred most characteristic of those who influenced Obama's emotional core is not hatred of whites or of white culture- it's hatred of the United States and of all that it stood for while leading the fight against expansive international communism.

Nothing about Barack Obama authentically represents or invokes the heritage of black Americans. Throughout his career he has championed the so-called right to abortion. From its inception with people like Margaret Sanger, to its genocidal implications for black Americans today, the promotion of a so called right to murder children in the womb has been allied with forces aiming to eliminate "inferior" races from the catalogue of human existence. (Given the anti-black implications of his fanatical commitment to the abortion agenda, the question arises: Did Obama's emotional pain over his father's abandonment result in sub-rosa resentment against his black racial heritage?) Authentic Christian faith has also been characteristic of the black American identity, reflecting the Gospel of love and reverence for God's will. That is a far cry from the peculiar mélange of race hatred and covert Islamism that claimed Obama's allegiance as a member of the congregation that assembled to hear the hate speech that passed for sermonizing in Reverend Jeremiah Wright's services.

And despite the leftist cant characteristic of the manipulated media's preferred black figureheads, many black Americans reject totalitarian socialist schemes to establish government domination and repression. Like my father, they donned the uniform of America's armed forces and fought with courage, pride and good conscience against the communist/national socialist devaluation of unalienable rights, and its collectivist/elitist assault on respect for the intrinsic worth of each and every human life.

Given Obama's upbringing, the self-avowed leftist predilections of his university life, the socialist stances characteristic of his brief political career, and the national socialist policies he is trying to force on the American people today, I would suggest that his race has nothing to do with the deep animus that characterizes his policies and actions. The target of his ill will isn't just whites- its black Americans, Jews, Asians, South Asians, Africans, Hispanics and yes, Europeans, Aussies and Brits, indeed any human beings who hold fast to the idea of liberty and the principles of God ordained human rights and moral dignity from which it springs. Rather than surrendering to the racial division Obama seeks to exploit, Americans of all backgrounds should unite on the common ground of decent humanity offered by our American creed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Town Hall Uprisings-Busting the Political Con?

One thing is becoming increasingly clear: the forces seeking to destroy constitutional self-government and impose socialism on the people of the United States appear to have underestimated the intelligence and will of the American people. The town hall uprisings have roused an arrogant, angry reaction from the Obama faction's political and media hacks. It reeks of surprised indignation. 'How dare these people prove more intelligent and feisty than we expected?' they seem to say. Their surprise more and more appears to be the only thing about them that is not insincere; that and their hunger for power.

It appears that many successful public figures in America have a quiet but deep contempt for the people whose support and adulation makes their apparent success possible. People who reach for fame and public applause often seem to suffer from a stubborn sense of vulnerable inferiority. They need public attention as an antidote to their own feelings of worthlessness. But as they receive the attention they crave, those feelings lead them to regard their own lives as a skillfully executed con game, in which they have sold hapless suckers stock in what they themselves feel to be a worthless enterprise. This leads them to conclude that people fool enough to be manipulated into supporting and admiring them will fall for anything.

A manipulative mentality dominates the competition for public power that today we mistakenly refer to as 'politics'. It affirms and feeds this contempt for 'the public'. Fortunes are made selling wealthy elites on the notion that, using the right polls and focus groups, expert consultants can figure out the goads and spurs of public reaction. Then they can package malleable individuals into candidates who will achieve the desired electoral response. The package may be empty, or its contents diametrically opposed to any real public good. But in this scheme of things, the outward appearance is all that matters, though it be entirely fictional.

So far the political result suggests that the consultants have delivered on their promises. People at the town meetings may raise chants intended to remind officeholders that "You work for us." But given the way politics works these days that makes no more sense than it would for the clay to tell the pottery "We made you what you are." In contemporary politics, the money powers, and the media they manipulate are the hands that mold the body politic until it accepts an image of leadership that no more serves the people than the pottery serves the clay.

In order to escape the domination of these manipulative forces, people will have to rediscover the resources that allow them to fashion- of, by, and for themselves- a political leadership that serves their common good. But what resources exist that allow people to resist the manipulation of their apparent desires and remember instead the goods that correspond to their true selves? The answer: resources that lie beyond manipulation because they reflect a standard of good that does not depend on malleable passion; resources that arise in connection with our respect for truths that confirm a source of meaning for our existence that subsists beyond the perishing satisfactions of the moment, but not beyond the reach of our conscience or goodwill. Content to judge leaders by the empty rhetoric they use to titillate our selfish passions, we will end up being judged, by those very passions, as fit only for slavery. But if we judge instead in light of the standard established by the Creator God who fashioned us for liberty, the discipline we accept in the judgment will help to keep us truly free; that and the faith that makes it possible.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Thought Tyrants

In a society once renowned for its dedication to open, even raucous discussion and debate it's shocking to witness an increasingly systematic effort to suppress any views that run counter to the zealous stupefaction that characterizes the Obama media claque. Because of his willingness to recognize the need for a factual resolution of the issues being raised with respect to Obama's Constitutional eligibility for the Office of President of the United States, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs is being attacked, described as a "far-right hater", and subjected to a campaign for his removal from the network. In the same vein, "Jon Klein, the chief of CNN's U.S. operations, has issued orders that no more talk-radio hosts will be allowed on CNN News programs… ." Because he has championed the views of those in opposition to the Obama faction's national socialist makeover of American society, the Obama faction has now made Glenn Beck the target of "a furious campaign…culminating in major companies such as Geico and pulling their spots from the Fox News star's daily show."

It appears that one of the key hallmarks of the much touted change heralded by the Obama faction is the substitution of repression for debate when it comes to dealing with opposing views. The faction's corporate fellow travelers on the road to the new national socialist order now openly seek to eliminate from the public platforms they control views that don't conform to their elite party line. Their efforts remind me of what Major Sean M. Hoyer observed about the environment for thought created at the inception of the Third Reich in the mid-twentieth century. "The individual intellectual capacity was greatly degraded….The Nazis sought to completely own the minds of their minions."

Ownership of the mind (or as Thomas Jefferson put it "tyranny over the mind") is the indispensable prerequisite of successful dictatorship. The will of the rulers must provide the only criteria of reality. Facts, experience, logic- all must give way to their will. The frenzied invective against people who question the specious evidence thus far put forward regarding Obama's eligibility for President is a perfect instance of this tyrannical imposition.

As direct evidence of Obama's citizen status, the media agents highly paid by the Obama faction's corporate fellow travelers have relied upon the Certification of Live Birth published on the internet during the presidential campaign. As a matter of fact, 1) at the time of Obama's birth, such certificates were issued for babies born on foreign soil; and 2) the published form contains no indication of the facts that usually serve to substantiate the physical location of a baby's birth (such as the hospital where he was born, or the signature and/or name of the doctor who delivered the baby.)

As a matter of law, 1) Obama's father was a foreign national; and 2)according to the law at the time, his mother was not of age to transmit citizenship by blood. He therefore had no claim to US citizenship at birth unless he was born on US soil. This makes it necessary to ascertain exactly the facts omitted on the published form of the Certification of Live Birth. Hence the simple demand for the release of the long form Birth Certificate that should contain the required information.

People who insist on this evidence are not necessarily questioning Obama's eligibility. Lou Dobbs has repeatedly stated that he believes Obama is a natural born citizen, as the Constitution requires. His sin (if it is one) is that he understands the need to substantiate this belief with something other than statements by Obama, his press secretary or other government officials. He dares to acknowledge that it is reasonable to demand factual evidence. But this demand implies that the word and will of the government officials is not the sole criterion of reality. It implies that they are subject to scrutiny based on a standard of proof and reason they do not dictate, and which gives individuals legitimate grounds for independent thinking and judgment.

The frenzied effort to vilify, humiliate and discredit so-called 'birthers' thus reflects the underlying goal, which is for the proponents of the new national socialist order what it was for the henchmen of the old national socialist regime: to degrade individual intellectual capacity and own the mind of the people.

Thomas Jefferson pointed to the best antidote for this tyrannical ploy when he wrote "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." Obviously, the chains of the Constitution will be of no avail if its provisions are made to depend on confidence in the word and will of government officials no longer subject to the demand for factual evidence and logically reasoned proofs.

As the repression of individuals becomes more open and intense, it becomes increasingly clear that the issue at stake goes to the very heart of the survival of American freedom. As it began with the reasonable recognition of self-evident truths not dictated by human will and power, so it must end when the will and power of an arrogant elite are permitted to drive from the public square the common sense demand for a similarly independent and reasonable standard of truthfulness.

Unhealthy for Liberty

Here is my latest WND article Unhealthy for Liberty. Take a look, then leave a comment here to let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Socialists Right and Left- Same Difference

In yesterday's post I used the expression 'national corporate socialism' to describe the mentality that drives the coalition of leftist and corporate interests now working together to promote the government takeover of control and costs in the health sector of the U.S. economy. This expression naturally calls to mind and invites comparison with the 'national socialism' from which Adolf Hitler's Nazi party took its name. The major difference between the two lies in the fact that both the leftists of the Obama faction, and the big business interests working with them appear to believe that scientific materialism is an acceptable basis for dealing with human affairs. They accept approaches based on the premise that on the whole human beings are material objects, essentially no different than rocks, hammers or electrons.

Because the enormous evils the Nazis perpetrated so consistently involved dehumanizing the people they sought to exterminate, we tend to forget that the core of the Nazi ideology involved the concept of the 'volk', which derived its existential meaning from the occult and mystic qualities of the blood. According to the Nazis, the essential traits that distinguish one race from another reside in the blood, establishing the hierarchy of inferior and superior beings. According to the Nazis, it was from its blood that the Aryan nation derived its unique role in humanity's journey toward perfection. Unlike the scientific materialists, who ultimately rejected all vestiges of Immanuel Kant's effort to take account of the mysterious, non-material aspect of man's consciousness of being, Hitler embraced Schopenhauer's exaltation of the will as the locus and expression of that mystery. Essential to the will is the goal, which makes it possible for man to become what Nietzsche called an "arrow of longing", aimed toward a moment of perfection comprehensible in action, but inexpressible in purely material terms.

The possibility of total commitment that arises from this exaltation of the will sweeps aside the boundaries implied by objective reality, and with them the limits upon human will that arise in good conscience as we deal with individuals whose existence demands respect for those boundaries. The commitment to reach for unbounded perfection informed by merely human will plunged the German people into a vast sea of evil, stained red with the blood of the victim millions they sacrificed on the altar of self-worship. But despite their disregard for humanity in others, the Nazis acknowledged in themselves the truth of its subjective being, the indefinable something that elevates humanity above the flotsam and jetsam of the materialistic universe.

To do evil the Nazis dehumanized others, whom they then sacrificed for the possibility of self-willed human perfection they idolized in themselves. The scientific materialists who now seek to supplant constitutional self-government in the United States act on an understanding that denies the relevance of man's subjective perception of existence. They pretend that science has demystified existing things, among which they include human beings. Where the Nazis exalted human will, these national socialists exalt human knowledge in its scientific form. Where the Nazis denied the boundaries on human will implied by objective reality, the contemporary national socialists deny the boundaries on human action implied by the subjective perception of meaning we derive from our experience of willing. The result: the new national socialists exempt no one from the dehumanizing paradigm of scientific understanding. In principle, therefore, they dehumanize not this or that group of human beings, but the whole of humanity.

In some of my speeches over the years, I have made bold to predict that because we are discarding the moral principles that allow us to recognize and acknowledge the evil that we do, evils will be done in the twenty-first century that make the holocausts of the twentieth look like a dress rehearsal. As Americans consider the struggle now taking place, I hope a saving remnant will look beyond the details of the particular issues we debate, and reflect on the general import of the choices involved. For I believe that the American people could have a special role to play in the human journey. However, it is not a role determined by materialistic and impersonal accident, nor set up by the committed force of human will. The great principle of our beginning allots to us the task of acknowledging the true source and mainstay of both objective reality and the subjective meaning our will ascribes to it. That source is the being-in-itself whose goodwill determined and daily renews the possibility of both, the Creator God whose authority our Founders respected as the basis for human rights and justice. Their respect for God's will distinguishes them decisively from both the 'right wing' national socialists of old, and those of the left with whom we now contend. I believe it is imperative for true Americans to join together now to preserve the work that reflects their wisdom, uniting for God, for Liberty and the Constitution in order to preserve both conscience and humanity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Unexpected Socialist Coalition- Leftist and Corporate Elites

Those who are opposed to Obama's totalitarian government takeover of the health care system should be wary of thinking that the tussle over it is a struggle between leftists who favor socialism and pro-Big Business proponents of the private sector economy. They'll get a better idea of the truth from an article (Burdened by healthcare costs, US businesses seek a shift) that appeared back in February, 2007. This was well before Obama became the focus of America's collapse into socialism. The article focused on an event at which "Wal-Mart chief executive Lee Scott took the stage… alongside representatives of a major labor union to kick off a campaign called 'Better Health Care Together.' The aim of this unlikely partnership is to extend coverage to all Americans by 2012…" According to the article "Wal-Mart was joined by other major companies: Intel, AT&T and Kelly Services." Another online article, (Wal-Mart, SEIU Outline Themes to Meet Health Coverage Goal by 2012) makes clear that the union with which these corporate giants joined forces was the now infamous SEIU.

Of course, the SEIU is presently making internet waves on account of its bully-boy tactics against people who question or reject Obama's takeover scheme. What are we to make of this alliance between Obama's henchmen and such large corporate interests?

The answer is simple: both favor an eventual government takeover of health care costs. This is hardly surprising from a leftist union. A little sense of history makes it less surprising from the corporate side than might otherwise be the case.

In late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century America, many Americans earned their living in company towns. The company was their landlord. It owned the store where they bought their food and other merchandise. It probably had the lion's share of interest in the local bank from which they obtained mortgages and other loans. The managerial class it represented also controlled (through charitable and philanthropic institutions) the institutions that addressed social welfare problems (soup kitchens, orphanages, care for the disabled, and the like.) Given the company's clout, local government officials, including local law enforcement officers, tread carefully around its interests and the representatives of its power. In effect, such towns represented a local form of dictatorial socialism, with the corporate elite as the 'party bosses' dictating the content and enforcement of policy. Let's call this kind of governance local "corporate socialism."

At first, modern unions came into being to challenge corporate socialism. As their membership and solidarity grew, the American political system eventually allowed unions to translate their organization and numbers into political clout. Thanks to this clout, government, particularly at the state level, could no longer be counted on to respect the wishes of the 'corporate party.' Unions pushed successfully for higher wages, and other benefits that cut into corporate profits. They influenced the legislative power of government to impose regulations intended to improve safety and other working conditions.

In response to the rising influence of the unions in the government sector the 'corporate party' devised a long term approach intended to shift the effective burden for satisfying these demands to the government, so that eventually their cost would be shifted back to the wage-earners. Under the plausible guise of 'progressive' reform the 'corporate party' took overall control of America's national income through the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank system, and the implementation of the Federal income tax. The hardships of the Great Depression then provided the context for the first steps in shifting "social welfare" responsibilities to the government.

The Federal income tax was implemented on the false assumption that only a small percentage of income earners would ever be subject to the tax. But the New Deal's social insurance legislation (we now call it social security), provided good cover for implementing general payroll tax withholding, which had met with considerable resistance when the income tax was first imposed. When the withholding scheme expanded during WWII, all income earners were subjected to its terms.

Under local corporate socialism in the old company towns, companies often cut amounts for housing, utilities and payments due at the company store, leaving wage earners to live on the residue. In our times, as the national government moves to consolidate control over the banking system, access to health care and control of corporate management, American earners find themselves once again living in a "company town", but this time on a national scale. Under national corporate socialism, however, the government acts as the collector of dues. The advantage of this arrangement is the perception that the government's actions reflect the will of the people, who must blame themselves (not business profiteers) for the burdensome costs and regulations imposed on them.

It's becoming increasingly clear, however, that earners (now taxpayers) under national corporate socialism will have no more say over the policies and choices they must live with than their predecessors, who lived under the local corporate socialist regime. What we have is the re-institution of the age old system of elite (oligarchic) rule that characterized human societies throughout most of history. The national corporate socialist coalition, by hijacking and devaluing the structures of representative government, deprives the people at large of any political avenues through which to challenge their elite masters. We appreciate the full extent of this deprivation only when we accept the fact that under the present so-called two party system, both parties now represent and implement the basic premises of national corporate socialist control.

Is this why Congressmen and Senators now take offense at the questions of their constituents, scolding them in tones reminiscent of haughty aristocrats? Does it explain why Obama presumes to silence all opposition, as though he should reign unquestioned, like some absolute monarch? Does it explain the Republican Party's surrender to socialism at the critical turning point of the so-called bank rescue last fall? Does it explain the complicity of the corporate financed media, including supposedly conservative personalities, in preventing scrutiny of the questionable evidence that supports Obama's claim to the Presidency?

It's important to note that in the expression 'national corporate socialism' the term "national" is used in a strictly geographic sense. The ideological leftists and the corporate entities that have joined forces in the national corporate socialist coalition, long ago abandoned all allegiance to the concept of the "nation" as a focus of moral or political allegiance. No gods command their loyalty but Power and Profit and they respect no boundaries in their ambitious pursuit of both. This distinguishes the new national corporate socialism from the national socialism that gave Adolf Hitler's Nazi party its name. (This also distinction has a moral dimension that I will discuss in my next post.)

The leftist elements of the national corporate socialist coalition pretend to be interested in egalitarian access to goods and services. The corporate elements cast themselves as problem solvers. In fact both are interested mainly in consolidating control of power and resources so as to eliminate the decisive role of the people at large. The governing 'ism' ultimately turns out to be 'elitism'. The ultimate goal- overthrow of government of, by and for the people. That's why the reassertion of liberty, and a common will to defeat every element of the corporate socialist strategy for its destruction, need to be the rallying points for all Americans who wish to remain a free people. It's also why such people should trust no leaders, parties or media they do not fashion for themselves.

Friday, August 7, 2009

True Conviction: The Key to Victory in 2010?

Here is my latest WND article True Conviction: The Key to Victory in 2010?. Take a look, then leave a comment here to let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Obama's Health Care Gulag for the Elderly

In the speeches I have given over the years supporting the pro-life cause, I have often pointed out that the calculated disregard for innocent life first aimed at babes in the womb would eventually claim the lives of the elderly, the infirm and anyone else judged to represent what the Nazis called "life unworthy of life." Once "quality of life" replaces the God ordained right to life as the criterion that assures the safety of the innocent, no one can live free of fear except those who are certain the shifting winds of popular esteem will never shift against them.

A new report from WND's Whistleblower magazine makes clear the likelihood that the Obama faction's proposed government takeover of the health care system will subject the American people to the terrifying consequence that I (and other pro-life advocates) have predicted. It will erect a totalitarian bureaucracy empowered to exile the elderly (and eventually others whose lives are judged to cost more than they are worth) to a hellish medical gulag, bereft of the choices that today allow many to determine for themselves the moment at which they surrender with dignity to the inevitable prospect of their mortality. "If this dire end-of life scenario sounds too awful to be possible, that is only because the reality of Obamacare has not been sufficiently reported. For this is not a fantasy - it is what is already occurring in other 'civilized' nations, including Canada and Britain, that have adopted the same government-run system."

Of course, it doesn't require much thought to realize that the sentence to death without dignity won't fall equally upon everyone. People who are part of the power structure of the dominant political faction will live in a different reality, like that which the politicians even now are setting apart for themselves and the people they love or favor. As gatekeepers who control access to this realm of privilege, they will have the opportunity to build and secure the political power base from which to manipulate the hopes and fears of those they wish to win over or intimidate.

Though today the dividing line between care and neglect seems to be defined by age and infirmity, once the system of political and bureaucratic control is firmly ensconced, it will be defined by factional favoritism. Those in good standing with the factional bosses will be treated one way. Those unwilling to tow their line will live in one administrative gulag or another.

Christ said "the poor, we will always have with us." Human societies have ever seen divisions between those who have less and those who have more. Contrary to the lying rhetoric used to promote the 'universal health care' shibboleth, the Obama faction's proposed totalitarian takeover of the health system won't eliminate such division. Instead America will move from a world in which less and more reflect relative economic status, to a world in which the ambition and greed of powerful factional elites will be the determining factor. A competition for the favor and patronage of powerful individuals will replace the competition for dollars.

In light of this fact, Americans need to ask themselves which they would rather be: people who work for a company that cleans people's houses, whose status in life in many respects depends on the company's ability to please its clientele; or people forced to be the personal house servants of arrogant, self-serving elites whose status in life depends on the interests, passions and whims of those elites. It's one thing to watch Oprah Winfrey on TV. It's another to be part of the entourage whose fate depends on the calculations and moods of the one who controls participation in her world of special privileges.

From being a society where status relates to economic success, we will become a society where status derives from personal dependency. We will exchange the insecurities and risks involved in the one for the certain servility and slavish fear of giving offense characteristic of the other. (I realize that when working for others we always have to manage our relations with our boss or supervisor. But when people live under a totalitarian regime there are no avenues of dignified retreat from that servility. The political and bureaucratic masters determine whether you can work, start a business, buy a house, or access a doctor or a hospital. Offend them, and you have no recourse but to languish in the gulags they will have created to punish their enemies and cow everyone else.)

The power hungry elite shilling for the transformation to totalitarianism in health care and other sectors of American life shrewdly emphasize and exaggerate the shortcomings of the way of life that respects individual rights and private enterprise. They promise a world without shortcomings, without deprivation, where everyone will have equal access to all the goods, all the hopes, all the sought for validations of worth and identity. But human contrivance will never produce such a world. We will always have to risk. Some will always have more, some less. The only realistic promise one human being can make to another is a society in which avenues consistent with moral dignity always remain open to character, discipline, talent and ability- so that no one willing to strive will be forced to live without hope of a better life. The promises of wily demagogues like Obama may seem for a moment more substantial than this- until we realize that in their world the fulfillment of every promise depends on the favored elites who control the reins of power. On the other hand, the fulfillment of freedom's promise depends on each and every one of us. As long as we refuse to give up on ourselves, we can hold on to the hope even the dimmest flame of life still represents. For like the still, small voice of conscience, that dim flame of life signifies the will and presence of the greatest power there is- the One who set the stars in motion and raised the mountains high, and who seconds the motion of our existence as long as we draw breath, and even, at long last, when it returns to Him forever.