Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bits and Pieces: Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lake Basebegone

Has anyone else noticed how Jim Horowitz, CEO of Oxford Aviation, continues to avoid the public view? I’m hoping I’m not the only one who wonders why. There’s probably a lot more here than meets the eye, but hey, I’m genetically curious.

Sibelius on Government Run Health Care Reform

Those who follow Side know I’ve written on this issue more than once. But I’ve got to tell you what I heard today.

Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration, was on the air claiming that “nothing had changed” in their proposal over the weekend. While this stretches credulity beyond reason, it is not the point I want to address.

She continued on, insisting that “choice and competition” are the primary objectives in the administration plan to improve health care “for all of us.”

Excuse me? This is the same ideological governing wing that has systematically eliminated choice and competition in health care in Maine, where Dirigo is the highest form of the polar opposite, and the poster child for how destructive political control of health care is. Yet Sibelius and friends are committed to taking control nationwide because they know better.

This is the same ideological wing that is so committed to “choice and competition” that they will do anything, and I mean anything, to see that government schools controlled by the teachers’ unions maintain their monopoly on our children’s learning. They will do whatever it takes to stop school choice from becoming a positive force in our education system.

And they’ll do anything to make sure that the cost burden of tort law on our health care providers is ignored and placed in the “not open for discussion” locker. Again, I wonder why.

Important Reads

I came across two especially insightful columns in the last day or two, and I want to recommend them to you.

The first appeared in the Wall Street Journal on the 17th. It’s by Andrew Klavan, and it’s titled “The Panel –What death by bureaucratic fiat might look like.” You can find it here.

It is definitely worth your attention. Most importantly, I want to invite your attention to this passage, because it is profoundly relevant to our present circumstances:

“Free people can treat each other justly, but they can't make life fair. To get rid of the unfairness among individuals, you have to exercise power over them. The more fairness you want, the more power you need. Thus, all dreams of fairness become dreams of tyranny in the end.

Think of this passage as elaborating on prior ramblings on ‘the common good.’ And as forethought to a future treatise on "fairness.”

The second column to tell you about is by Thomas Sowell, a revered scholar of economics and our founding principles. It’s actually Part II of an earlier column. You can find Part I here.

These words are amongst its most insightful:

“As for a "death panel," no politician would ever use that phrase when trying to get a piece of legislation passed. "End of life" care under the "guidance" of "some independent group" sounds so much nicer — and these are the terms President Obama used in an interview with the New York Times back on April 14th.”

“He said, "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out there." He added: "It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. That is why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance." “

“But when you select people like Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel to give "independent" guidance, you have already chosen a policy through your choice of advisors, who simply provide political cover. The net result can be exactly the same as if those providing that guidance were openly called "death panels." “

Look up Part II here.

I especially want to commend this passage to you:

Barack Obama has talked about the high costs of taking care of elderly or chronically ill patients in terms of "society making those decisions." But a world in which individuals make their own trade-offs with their own money is fundamentally different from a world where third parties take those decisions out of their hands and impose their own notions of what is best for "society."

Calling these arbitrary notions "ethics" doesn't change anything, however effective it may be as political spin.

More is at stake than the outcomes of medical decisions, extremely important as those are. What is also at stake is freedom and the dignity of individuals who do not live their lives as supplicants of puffed-up power holders who are spending the money taken from them in taxes.

The State of the Union’s Finances

The Maine Heritage Policy Center, of which I am an enthusiastic member, hosted a special event in Portland today. It was labeled a stop on the “Fiscal Sanity Tour,” and featured two national figures speaking on the state of our Government’s finances. I’m pleased to report that other concerned residents of Brunswick also attended.

The more senior of the two speakers, the Honorable David M. Walker, retired last year from his post as Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) from 1998 to 2008. He served under both Democrat and Republican administrations. His knowledge of the subject is second to none, and his credentials as a non-partisan are a matter of record.

The information presented was beyond troubling. Our Government is so completely overextended in obligations and so deeply in debt that it is almost impossible to see a way out. In fact, total financial collapse seems the most likely outcome. And this is independent of current plans for expansion of Government, which will only take an impossible situation to heights unknown. The worst part, of course, is that the burden falls on our children, grandchildren, and all those who will inherit our future.

As Mr. Walker said, we all know that politicians are addicted to spending OPM (Other People’s Money), and they find it especially convenient to spend the money of those not yet old enough to vote, and even more, those not yet even born. We are truly sailing towards an iceberg of unimaginable proportions. We will not correct our course without monumental changes in established entitlement programs and a consensus that we simply cannot continue as we are.

A pamphlet was handed out that summarizes our challenges. You can find a pdf version of it here.

I’m expecting MHPC to post the slides from today’s presentations on their web site, and when they do, I will post the links for you.

Let me close by saying that we are at the precipice; “sensitive” columns by big government pundits only serve to delay the inevitable. Do yourself a favor and look up the material I’ve cited. And if you have any problem with the content, you are free to enlighten the rest of us here with your commentary.

I am truly, truly concerned. And you should be as well.

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