Sunday, September 20, 2009

Civility

Today I participated in something that I have rarely done over the past year or so. After seeing on Twitter that Steve Helms had a piece about Health Care published in the News-Leader, I headed over to give it a look. I found there the many reasons that I had basically written off the News-Leader's online comment section.

1) Anonymous comments
2) Endless slander
3) Complete avoidance of the topic at hand

For some reason, the comments section attracts some of the least desirable communication from people in the community. Unfortunately that's part of the problem. We have trouble knowing for sure whether the participants are even from this area. Even if we did know for sure they were, we don't know who most people really are. I'm not against anyone's right to privacy, but I think anonymity brings out horrible things in many people.

There were people that claimed to be on the left, and others that claimed to be on the right that couldn't stop slandering each other, calling names, and generally being unpleasant. Now if they were making a point in an unfriendly way, I could probably look past the muck, but many of them fail to remember what the piece was even about.

I'm not expecting everyone to get along, but I do expect people to talk about the subject at hand. It is ridiculous.

It also seems that even when I take the time to present calm arguments in favor or against a particular idea that I either am completely ignored, or people attempt to draw me into the fray by attacking me, instead of responding to the ideas and concepts presented.

It is wearying. I will most likely continue to avoid the News-Leader in the future.

I think that citizens would benefit greatly by having an environment that encouraged well thought out and researched discourse on the topics. I also think that our representatives should have a place where all their constituents (not just those of their own party) were given a voice on issues. I think that the Citizens Brigade would satisfy this.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Media Dominance

The media is defeating us. By spreading lies and painting the political scene as divided and irreconcilable, they've defeated the American people. For my purposes here I'm not even talking about my desires to return our nation to a Constitutionally limited Federal Government. I'm talking about the ability to govern ourselves, to see our neighbors as neighbors instead of enemies in the trenches of warfare.

Maybe people should wake up and realize that Religion and Politics aren't the last subjects we should be talking about, they're the first. They're the most important topics to discuss. We need to learn again how to disagree with people without hatred. To take opposite positions of an argument without vilification of our fellow citizens.

I blame education. I expect my children to grow up confident in their beliefs, willing to discuss them calmly with anyone, and to care for the needy, no matter what they disagree with them about. The Government schools claim that they teach tolerance and diversity, but they do not. They claim that they teach acceptance and unity, but they do not. Today's schools gloss over the truth. They refuse to debate the issues that matter most. They are dismissive, claiming that when two people make statements that can't possibly BOTH be true, that those are just their opinions, and that we're all entitled to them. We can all be equally right in our own minds.

The Government schools are only working to create pupils that will accept knowledge as it is given to them. All of the subjects are separated out, these receptacles of "facts" are not encouraged to discover how all of creation relates to each other, how all disciplines rely upon the same foundational truths. They are not taught to challenge every assertion in their own minds, or to plow through things that they don't understand to experience the insight of discovering some truth on their own.

Now they are encouraged to rely upon their fellow students as well as the authoritative knowledge givers. If they're not sure about something, they should find out what the group thinks and agree with them.

I think we need a return to the Trivium. We need to reevaluate the educational processes that brought us so many revolutionary ideas through the years. We need to equip children with the tools of learning, instead of providing them their daily fish.

People whose intellect I respect are being led to draw conclusions that just don't fit with reality. I know I'm picking on this person quite readily, but I know he can handle it. I'm not as interested in winning the fight to convince him, but to try to ring some bells and wake everyone up to how much the media is crafting the boundaries of this conversation. Just consider the current headlines about the political situation similar to this kind of headline "Could your toaster kill you? Find out at 6!". Sensationalism to the extreme!

Educated people would cause this kind of insanity to die. If people weren't just consumers of information, instead of critical thinkers, the media would be forced to change it's tone. People would just turn the nonsense off. Unfortunately, the information consumers turn into ripe targets for advertising, and as the politicians are quick to remind us, the economy is driven by consumption. If we stopped consuming like sheep and cows, our economy would fall apart. I'll save the economy for another post.

If you're a Christian, please review the Call to Dunkirk:



If you don't agree with abandoning the "public" schools for Biblical reasons, please consider the Alliance for the Separation of School and State. Their site has a wealth of different perspectives in support of taking our children out of the Government schools.

Please tell me what you think. Without intellectual retorts, I cannot refine my thoughts and purge from them the falsehoods. I do not claim to have everything figured out.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

One Health Care Proposal

The Cato Institute has a proposal for the rhetorical onslaught from President Obama.

The President accuses his opponents of defending the status quo, or demanding that we do nothing. I have seen the wisdom in giving a detailed set of options to attack the same problems in a less centralized manner.

Below are the 7 proposals from the Cato Institute with my thoughts interspersed.

1. Let individuals control their health care dollars, and free them to choose from a wide variety of health plans and providers.


The more freedom individuals have, the better they can responsibly control their health care costs and fight for better care.

2. Move away from a health care system dominated by employer-provided health insurance. Health insurance should be personal and portable, controlled by individuals themselves rather than government or an employer. Employment-based insurance hides much of the true cost of health care to consumers, thereby encouraging over-consumption. It also limits consumer choice, since employers get final say over what type of insurance a worker will receive. It means people who don’t receive insurance through work are put at a significant and costly disadvantage. And, of course, it means that if you lose your job, you are likely to end up uninsured as well.


Absolutely right on the money. The biggest complaints echoed from the people are that they don't want to lose their insurance if they lose their jobs. Losing insurance at any point is problematic for people, but especially those that have degenerative conditions because the insurance companies have pre-existing condition exclusions.

3. Changing from employer to individual insurance requires changing the tax treatment of health insurance. The current system excludes the value of employer-provided insurance from a worker’s taxable income. However, a worker purchasing health insurance on their own must do so with after-tax dollars. This provides a significant tilt towards employer-provided insurance, which should be reversed. Workers should receive a standard deduction, a tax credit, or, better still, large Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for the purchase of health insurance, regardless of whether they receive it through their job or purchase it on their own.


I just want to emphasize that the Federal Government through the IRS has greatly influenced the very problems that we face today. Don't expect them to see the problems that they've created and turn towards proper solutions. The Government always trends towards more centralized power, and that inherently invites corruption. When the Government picks winners and losers, most people are losers.

4. We need to increase competition among both insurers and health providers. People should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines. One study estimated that that adjustment alone could cover 17 million uninsured Americans without costing taxpayers a dime.


Some conservatives that I respect are concerned about this portion of the plan. They do not want to give any opportunity to the Federal Government to take over regulation of things that are currently handled by the States. As long as this step is executed with explicit prohibitions on the Federal Government to define what insurance is, and does not give them any influence over the content of the insurance, I can support this.

5. We also need to rethink medical licensing laws to encourage greater competition among providers. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, and other non-physician practitioners should have far greater ability to treat patients. Doctors and other health professionals should be able to take their licenses from state to state. We should also be encouraging innovations in delivery such as medical clinics in retail outlets.


State to State licensing should be handled in a cooperative manner, not by the Federal Government. Once again, it is proper to distrust the Feds. I think that on a state by state basis we should relax the licensing and allow competition to prosper in our state. This is something that should be done by the State legislature. Allow more people to treat less risky ailments. Just give more freedom to people to participate in medicine that they desire, such as midwives, herbal treatments, etc.

6. Congress should give Medicare enrollees a voucher, let them choose any health plan on the market, and let them keep the savings if they choose an economical plan. Medicare could even give larger vouchers to the poor and sick to ensure they could afford coverage.


Yes, any plan to offer a transition away from Government control.

7. The expansion of “health status insurance” would protect many of those with preexisting conditions. States may also wish to experiment with high risk pools to ensure coverage for those with high cost medical conditions.


I'm not familiar with health status insurance. Generally speaking, most problems would be solved if you provided a structure to keep people insured in a fair manner. Maybe each state should create a transfer method. If you were insured with certain types of coverage, but want to change companies, the state might require that insurance companies use the application information from when you were first insured to prevent pre-existing condition problems. I'm not very sure about that.

One thing that may work is that if you are diagnosed with an illness such as diabetes, the insurance company could basically be required to designate a payout amount that they now owe you, that could be transfered to other companies if they choose to handle the coverage. It makes a little sense since one of the major reasons to have insurance is to protect against catastrophic events in your health. The removal of your employer from the equation would be another major benefit to this situation. Each individual could negotiate their own insurance contract instead of the take it or leave it options with most employer driven insurance. People would be self interested in scouring the contracts, or hiring lawyers to do it for them. Better contracts would attract more customers, and would bring profits to more types of insurance companies.

Labels: , ,

Single Payer

Senator McCaskill is not being honest with us when she says that the public option won't lead to single payer. At least Barney Frank is.



Why are we allowing the media and the organized progressive movement to define this debate?

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 07, 2009

Welfare, Warfare, and Liberty

More from my conversation with Jack:

It doesn't matter what background the President has, he's taking the destruction present under George W. Bush and accelerating it.

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why the Medical industry is in such bad shape? Consider inflation and Medicare.

Why, when an experiment is so young, (Medicare is less than 45 years old) yet completely failing (Medicare is unable to keep up with the expenses) do we assume that the mechanisms which brought us from the birth of our nation up to that point are the things that cannot save us?

The government does not exist to ensure an outcome. The government exists to protect individual Life, Liberty, and Estates (all termed Property by Locke).

By turning and pressuring Congress to act quickly to add another layer on top of the layers of programs that are failing because they cannot work, he is inviting a back lash of rational citizens.

It doesn't matter how much you care about the medical services that people need. Caring and concern doesn't cause the Government to be capable of running the Medical Industry. It doesn't matter what people are in Congress, the Presidency, or the thousands of bureaucrat positions, it cannot work. Centralizing power of this magnitude will draw corruption faster than a bug zapper draws bugs.

It's not about opposing "taking care of people". It's about losing the right to do what we want with our lives. When a government is granted the power to keep everyone healthy, they are inherently granted the power to make everyone slaves. People should have the right to do anything with their own bodies they desire.

Freedom and Liberty are worth fighting for. If no one believed that, we wouldn't be a country, we'd be a collection of British colonies.

Freedom and Liberty are the light. President Obama isn't going to succeed in bringing the light to anything. He may desire to do so, and think that he's working to do that, but in the end, his "light" will come at a terrible price.

What happens when the rest of the world sees our "dollar" for what it is? Not worth the paper it's printed on.

When China calls to collect all the money we owe them, what happens?

Hyperinflation

The remedy for hyperinflation is a dramatic reduction in the size of government and the conversion to hard currency instead of fiat money. Why not do those before it hits?


Jack's comment:

I find it so interesting that people claim government-run social programs fail miserably. Yet, somehow, there is still a strong argument that the government runs a well-oiled military. How can it be that a government is incapable of running health care but can effectively run the greatest military on Earth? I think government can do both.


set me off again:

Both the Welfare State and the Warfare State equally erode our Liberties.

It is by cries of "we've been attacked", and "a nation in a state of war" that many real abuses were foisted upon the American people during the Bush administration. Significantly, there has been no real change in those abuses since Obama took office. Obama has not reduced our troop levels abroad, he has merely shifted some of them from Iraq to Afghanistan. The liberals who cried foul so loudly for all of Bush's administration have not cried aloud and in the streets that Obama and the Democrats that are in full control of Congress have not repealed the Patriot Act. Obama has not ended the practices of extended detention, he's codified them in a new project.

It is by alternatively swinging between Welfare and Warfare that we have built up the Federal Government into a leviathan so massive, so destructive to individual freedom that many have given up any hope of ever finding a place in this world to live in Liberty again.

It is the Military Industrial Complex that liberals were bemoaning so loudly that was siphoning off funds to Cheney's old company, literally losing millions upon millions of dollars in the process, and wasting billions on other projects.

Why does Obama make so many so blind? That is something to be said about Obama. He has pulled the wool over the eyes of so many. So many blindly "Pledge to be Servants" to Obama. He is a charismatic leader that delivers stirring speeches and leads us to destruction.

Bush was a deceiver as well. He spoke of faith and morality, and so many thought it refreshing to have such a man in office, yet he abused the law of this land in so many new ways, rarely reducing the scope of the Federal Government and often increasing it.

So, Jack, what exactly is the Federal Government good at? Are you not afraid that throughout the entire history of the United States of America, our National Debt is around $10 Trillion, and from 2009 to 2019 it is projected to grow by another $10 Trillion? Each of those 10 Trillions of dollars will put a burden of approximately $80,000 on each household in America. So in 2019, we will each have the equivalent of a $160,000 mortgage, but with no house to show for it.

Do you still say IRRATIONAL?

Oh wait, this is all before the new Medical Salvation Program. That's going to be free right? It doesn't matter how much the poor of our country would benefit from this program, because we cannot afford it.

When you factor in all of the ballooning costs of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and pre 2008 spending levels, the Federal Government has promised to pay for over $50 Trillion in benefits that it doesn't have, and cannot raise taxes enough to cover. What do you suggest we do about the very real financial crisis facing our nation? How long can your household borrow money and call your economic health strong? How long can the Federal Reserve fool the world into believing that the Dollar is the premier currency? How long can we borrow and spend before the whole thing collapses like a house of cards?

Is this light you speak of bankruptcy? Is it running to the United Nations to create a new world currency to rescue us from the ashes? Is the light to destroy our nation and make us dependent upon the global governing bodies? How else do you see the outcome of our accelerated spending? What good can come from destroying our entire economy? No worries, I don't blame Obama for all of that, Bush pointed us toward the cliff. Obama stomped on the gas.

We must let off the gas, hit the brakes and turn around in the other direction towards Constitutionally limited government. The Federal Government cannot give the people what they've asked for. It's impossible.

Labels: , , , , ,

Racism and Anonymity

I was having a conversation with Jack, and the subject of racism kept cropping up.

At one point, Jack said:
Or the ones who complain that the News-Leader prints too many pictures of Black people.


I replied:
Oh, and let me say that the comments section of the News-Leader is a gathering of some of the most foul and undesirable people on the planet. There are people that don't fit that mold, but I don't understand why they participate. The anonymity of that message board is destructive and distortive. The majority of those people refuse to use any sort of respect for other people or even the English language. Please do not base either your perceptions of the right OR the left on anonymous forums of that sort.

People that spew forth hate, calling names and condemning entire people groups don't really deserve to be listened to... They should not be silenced by the Government, but they should not be listened to by citizens. The best thing to do to a racist is ignore their filth. There are racists in both the major parties. It's just as racist to claim that people need more assistance based upon the color of their skin as it is to claim that certain skin colors have limitations on their potential.


Generally speaking, I do not think that the comments section of the News-Leader assists in the purpose of Journalism. If the citizens of Springfield want to have a dialog about the issues of our community, they should be capable of that under their real names. Anonymity should not be squashed by the Government by any means, but I think it is damaging the debate. If I ran a forum for public discourse, I would not allow anonymous commenters.

Labels: , , ,