Values

Do no harm?

The one health care lesson the Congress should have learned in crafting their "reform" bill is the most fundamental tenet of medicine: do no harm.Unfortunately, the Congress is now playing the role of Dr. Kervorkian. So destructive are its politically-motivated machinations that it is in the process of setting back American medicine -- and the economy -- a generation. It may never be fully resuscitated.

And now that Joe Lieberman has lost his minute of sanity -- opposing the public option and the expansion of Medicare -- it seems certain that this colossus of social engineering will get passed in the Senate. It will ultimately reach Obama's desk and will be signed in a lavish "historic" signing ceremony, where it will be hailed as a monumental accomplishment in "bending the health care cost curve" or some such nonsensical lie.

Believe me: the only thing this bill bends is the truth.

Here are some facts to chew on:

-- The true cost of this bill is $2.5 Trillion -- not the $900 billion the CBO will say it is. How does it get away with being three times more expensive than they say it will be? Because the ten year CBO "score" is based on gimmickry: it accounts for ten years of taxes to pay for it, but only provides SIX years of services. The true cost of the next ten years will be in the trillions of dollars as the program becomes "pay as you go" in year 11.

-- The foundation of this plan is to compel -- under the penalty of prison -- people to buy insurance. The 10% of the uninsured in this country who have decided not to spend their money on insurance -- either because they are young and healthy or have decided to take the risk -- will now not have that option. But don't worry -- in the spirit of income redistribution, "other people" will pay for much of it in the form of subsidies. Still, the reality is that the Congress is infusing government into the private lives of people in a way that they never had before. The Nanny state on steroids.

-- The taxes on this will be enormous -- and will hit everyone regardless of age or economic status. Remember that pledge Obama made to not raise taxes on anyone making "less than $250,000 per year"? Fuggedaboutit! Everyone's going to pay on this one -- from new taxes to higher insurance premiums. And that's for starters. When this starts to break the bank, taxes on everything will rise, and you can bet that there are plans for a Value Added Tax and other stealth taxes in the works. Your pocketbook just became a lot thinner!

-- This bill includes command and control facilities run by the Federal Government that will control the private insurance industry, putting new and pernicious controls on coverage and underwriting. At the end of this road, government will be controlling every aspect of the coverage provided, and will be in charge of determining insurance premium rates and coverage levels -- and will, when things get tight, become a "rationing board". It may not be "Death Panels" -- but it will be pretty darn close.

-- The new burden on states to expand Medicaid will create even bigger problems in already-strained state budgets -- amounting to a massive new unfunded mandate. States like California that are already $20 billion in the red will have to come up with another $3 billion or so to cover the new state portion of Medicaid expansion. This will result in -- you guessed it -- new taxes to cover the short-fall.

-- There is nothing in this bill that will restrain medical malpractice liability or the massive cost that the health care tort bar places on medicine. The trial lawyers have gotten the pass that they have bought and paid for. The Democrats in Congress are in their pockets, and thus an important element of truly containing health care costs has been left out of this "historic" reform bill.

-- This bill does nothing to fix the current government health care entitlement, Medicare, which is a giant ponzi scheme that will be insolvent within 1o years.

-- The net effect of this health care bill, the trillion dollar stimulus packages and the vast unfunded entitlements in the current fiscal 2010-2011 budget are a disaster in the making. As the Wall Street Journal points out today in its lead editorial, the Democrats are now pushing for a $2 trillion increase in the federal debt ceiling, so they can not be burdened by any vestige of fiscal restraint:

It's a sign of how deep the fiscal pathologies run in this Congress that $2 trillion will buy the federal government only one year before it has to seek another debt hike—conveniently timed to come after the midterm elections. Since Democrats began running Congress again in 2007, the federal debt limit has climbed by 39%. The new hike will lift the borrowing cap by another 15%.

Our concern is that the Administration and Congress view this debt as a way to force a permanently higher tax base for decades to come. The liberal grand strategy is to use their accidentally large majorities this year to pass new entitlements that start small but will explode in future years. U.S. creditors will then demand higher taxes—taking income taxes back to their pre-Reagan rates and adding a value-added tax too. This would expand federal spending as a share of GDP to as much as 30% from the pre-crisis 20%.

And of course this is the grand design -- to resurrect the pre-Reagan 70% marginal tax rates that will maximally punish wealth creation and success. Remember, this Congress is hostile to profit and capitalism, and would prefer to see a social democratic system ala Sweden, with 90% taxes and massive government programs to support every element of social interaction.

At the end of the day, all of this is being done on a purely partisan, party-line basis. There won't be one Republican voting for any of this. The 55 million people who voted for John McCain have been effectively told "screw you" by a president who campaigned as a "uniter" and as a "post-partisan" leader. What a joke. This is the most partisan president and most divided Congress in history. That this kind of vast social change can be foisted on the public -- 60% who now oppose it -- without a single bipartisan vote is an offense to republican democracy. When Medicare was passed it did so on a largely bipartisan basis -- 24 Republicans voted in favor in 1965. Today we have an even larger rework of the American economy and society and it will be a complete partisan putsch.

And that is typical of the left, which always thinks it knows best. The notion that conservatives might have some good ideas on health care has been scoffed at. Instead, you have a massive experiment in socialism being foisted on the American people by 60 left wing ideologues.

We are being sold down the river in a 2,000 page, $2.5 trillion boondoggle that no one understands -- but that we will be paying for in generations to come.

Artists don’t live in an alternative universe

The current saga of Roman Polanski, who aspires to the lofty category of "artist," reminds us of the old Puritan suspicion of actors as immoral. It may shock people of all persuasions to learn that all artists–and scientists as well–were subjected to withering criticism by that patron saint of modern liberalism, Jean Jacques Rousseau. "[T]he depravity [is] real," wrote the author of the Discourse that won the prize of the Academy of Dijon in 1750, among peoples whose "souls have been corrupted in proportion to the advancement of our sciences and arts toward perfection."

Critics of Rousseau were quick to point out that he did not miss any of Moliere’s plays and thought they had espied a hypocrite. But Rousseau’s main concern was the popularization of the arts and sciences, retaining immense respect for those with genuine talents. He feared that these disciplines, if freed altogether from social or political control, threatened not only to corrupt the nations that indulged them but degraded art and science themselves.

More, as artists and scientists gain prominence they regard themselves as beyond criticism and become indifferent to the fate of their fellow citizens. They even become toadies of corrupt regimes as long as they are left free to do as they please, and those who lived under monarchies were willing to glorify them.

Rousseau believed that the passion for distinction could find an outlet in the arts and sciences no less than in politics and war, and saw clearly that many whose ambitions far exceeded their talents would attempt nonetheless to reap the rewards of celebrity and fame.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist that "the love of fame is the ruling passion of the noblest minds," convinced that the greatest among us would perform great deeds so as to be remembered for all time. The patriots of 1776 founded a republic and thereby won lasting fame.

However, Abraham Lincoln warned in his famous Lyceum Speech of 1838 that those who seek fame are as likely to win it by destroying republics as by establishing them, indicating that moral virtue in our leaders was necessary to avoid the fate of ancient Greece and Rome with Alexander and Caesar, and modern France with Napoleon.

Lincoln’s political critique applies to no less to other famous people, particularly artists and scientists. Is it difficult to see the passion for fame in Charles Darwin’s challenge to the natural law teachings of the founders of modern science with his theories of random chance in the biological world? Of Pablo Picasso’s revolutionizing of painting as no longer a representation of the visual world?

The dime store versions of these talented but misguided souls are persons who advance their careers by endorsing the "consensus view" in the learned academies, such as the dangers of "global warming," and Hollywood producers who confuse their passion for pushing the moral and political envelope with genuine talent.

People who seek distinction from being contrary to what the majority of their fellow citizens believe or support have convinced themselves that they are "a cut above" all those they regard as dummies, and use their status as a free ticket to a life of unaccountable behavior.

Polanski illustrates this perfectly. He committed a heinous crime and fled the country before sentencing, living on the lam in Europe for over 30 years. He and his "artistic" friends believe that his status entitles him to immunity from laws that govern everyone else. No one exposed this vanity better than The Nation's Katha Pollitt:

"The widespread support for Polanski shows the liberal cultural elite at its preening, fatuous worst. They may make great movies, write great books, and design beautiful things . . . But in this case, they're just the white culture-class counterpart of hip-hop fans who stood by R. Kelly and Chris Brown . . . "

Wasn’t Polanski in Switzerland, a neutral country, and attending an international arts festival, a world of the immortals? Who are these narrow-minded law enforcement officers who think they can arrest the producer for something that Whoopi Goldberg informed us was not "rape rape?"

The arts and sciences are among the greatest gifts of our Maker to the human race, but every gift should be treated with the respect it deserves and not used as an excuse for vicious acts and cults of personality. Whether or not they make people corrupt, it is clear that they are no barrier to corruption. Morality remains central to civilized life.

America's spiritual core awakens

The secular progressive movement has been effective in limiting the spiritual component of issues from being more significant in popular discourse. In fact, spiritual aspects of issues have been ignored completely by the mainstream news and most political office holders. But the passion of the crowds and the grassroots nature of the opposition to President Obama’s health care overhaul is I believe derived from our nation's spiritual core as much as it is from intellectual evaluation. The spiritual question we face as a nation is simple and comprehensive, it is: “Is there enough?”

Enough what? Many will ask and then attempt to throw the question away, unwilling to consider the deeper meaning. “Is there enough, of anything?” Is there enough food? Is there enough wealth? Are there enough votes? A portion of the population answers this basic question in the negative. There is not enough, of anything. Therefore we must take from one group that has and transfer it to those without. Democrats in general fall into that mindset and President Obama has organized his entire administration around the premise that redistribution of all things including power is not only possible but mandatory for survival.

Nowhere in the policy and discussion of this administration do you find reliance upon or confidence in the proposition that humans create their world and that the universe is abundant. Many in the world experience starvation, but food is limited by choices of those in power, more than by material limits. North Korea suffers shortages because of Kim, not because there are limited resources.

Some in this country suffer financial hardship. I include myself in that group. But it is my experience of lack, not the imperative of lack that is at work. I know I can create a new business and recover my life. I need not take anything from another in order to have some of it.

President Obama believes that health, not health care, is limited and so he proposes equalizing the amount of health mandates by taking from some and redistributing to others. President Obama is willing to sacrifice the health of some to change the experience of illness of a few. Wellness is abundant in the universe but free people sometimes experience lack and suffering. Reducing the wellness of some will never increase the wellness of others.

Across the country thousands are seeing the debate about health care and financial recovery and are reacting in a truly spiritual manner. They know something is wrong with the core belief of lack and redistribution. Americans want solutions that recognize creative genius and American excellence. Obama promises a future of failure and works from the basis that there is never enough of anything. So he takes what others have.

Unimaginable leftism in Cambridge case

John Lennon’s 1971 lyrics to “Imagine” reflected the head Beatle's lofty idealism -- which was embraced by many, while others attacked the song's brazen, impudent, hardened, and bold promotion of socialism. Imagine there's no Heaven , It's easy if you try No hell below us, Above us only sky Imagine all the people, Living for today

Imagine there's no countries, It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too Imagine all the people, Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us, And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us, And the world will live as one

Lyric highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective): IMAGINE THERE’S NO HEAVEN…IMAGINE THERE’S NO COUNTRIES…AND NO RELIGION TOO…IMAGINE NO POSSESSIONS…IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE, SHARING ALL THE WORLD…I HOPE SOMEDAY YOU’LL JOIN US, AND THE WORLD WILL LIVE AS ONE.

Weren’t statements like "imagine no possessions" characterized as un-American in 1971? How about no religion, no countries, and his vision for a one world society? John Lennon expressed his world vision to a rebellious and sympathetic post-Vietnam war America. Was his agenda idealistic, therefore, unrealistic? Was he promoting Communism or Socialism, therefore, a radical agenda? Most assuredly.

According to Wiktionary “What goes around comes around” is an English Proverb which means the status eventually returns to its original value after completing some sort of cycle. That can be a frightening thought, but, unfortunately, it is true. Fast forward 38 years…

Can you IMAGINE a police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts arresting a hostile and unruly Harvard University professor late one night after which the President of the United States, shooting from the hip, hastily and irrationally jumps into the fray offering “I don’t have all the facts, but the police acted stupidly.” After several days of hectic damage control meetings and frantic back peddling by his minions our “beloved” President spoke again saying “I should have chosen my words more carefully.” No, Mr. President, you should have stayed out if it. But I am thrilled you have alienated every policeman and policewoman in America. And to cap off several days of irresponsible remarks our #1 hothead-in-chief offered “it might have been better if cooler heads had prevailed.”

Don’t you have anything else to do Mr. President? How about dealing with the unprecedented debt, reckless spending, massive unemployment and the economic crisis you and your cronies in Congress foisted upon an unwilling America? Or yet another “Obamnation” due to your ill-advised and disastrous cap & trade plan which is nothing more than a new tax on the working class? How about the health care program you are forcing down our collective throats despite our repeated protestations? And all you can do is resort to name calling for those who oppose your plans (“obstructionists”). That doesn’t sound like really mature leadership and the change we need, Mr. President.

To add fuel to the fire Massachusetts “beloved” African-American Governor Deval Patrick chimed in with this ill-advised remark, “A policeman coming to your front door is every black man’s worst nightmare.” What? Oh, did I mention Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley is white and the unruly Harvard professor is an African-American and the neighbor who called the police to report the apparent home break-in was also African-American? It should all be irrelevant.

While others may say President Obama is arrogant I cannot agree. He is more than arrogant...perhaps elitist. It has been said his arrogance is exceeded only by his lack of integrity. Shame on President Obama and Governor Patrick for their racially divisive and uninformed remarks.

EPILOGUE: My personal response to the very talented Mr. Lennon whose life was cut way too short and the perhaps well-meaning but certainly inexperienced Mr. Obama regarding your shared agenda for socialism in America… no, I cannot IMAGINE that!

Responsibility & health are inseparable

And whatever happened to Cleary?Okay, what do Arlo Guthrie; Joan Baez; Richie Havens; Ravi Shankar; Santana; Grateful Dead; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Sly and the Family Stone; The Who; Jefferson Airplane; Joe Cocker; Country Joe and the Fish; The Band; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and Sha-Na-Na have in common? If you are under the age of 30 you may not have any idea. But older generations know these musical legends participated in the largest and, in retrospect, surely the greatest rock concert of all time in Bethel, New York from August 15-18, 1969. On the 40th anniversary of Woodstock we are reminded of the untimely deaths of two other big names to perform that weekend, Janice Joplin and Jimmy Hendricks. And what did Elvis Pressley, Michael Jackson, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, Sigmund Freud, Len Bias, Lenny Bruce¸ Kurt Cobain, Freddy Mercury, Judy Garland, Margaux Hemingway, Christina Onassis, Freddie Prinze, Ike Turner, Hank Williams, and Howard Hughes have in common with Joplin and Hendricks? Each died from suspected complications from drug abuse or a drug overdose. They lost control of their own lives through drug addiction and left an enduring legacy which will, forever, diminished their otherwise great accomplishments. There are other types of addictions also known to be hazards to your health. In 1966, Congress mandated the following message be included on every pack of cigarettes "CAUTION: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health" and was replaced in 1970 by one saying "WARNING: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health." And yet, forty-three years later it is estimated there are 45 million adult American smokers, 70% of whom want to quit. So quit!

To paraphrase a rather well-known quote from 16th century English farmer and writer Thomas Tusser (1524-1580) ‘A fool and his money are soon parted…and after mindlessly wasting money on an addiction one is soon parted from this life!’ Isn’t it pretty clear that nearly all additions or abuses- primarily personal choices- will lead to a certain and untimely death.

Therefore, in order to take care of the growing number of citizens who make irresponsible choices every day to destroy their health I propose we create a universal health care program to take care of them. A universal health care program supported by and run by the government, of course. That sounds reasonable and fair. Reasonable until we realize the government has no money and they have to take the hard-earned money from most Americans who make better lifestyle choices, in order to take care of those who don’t. Wait a minute…that makes no sense at all. Whose dumb idea was that?

Last week, the 44th President of the United States indicated he wanted to make something perfectly clear, and “make no mistake about it, we will have a national health care program.” Mr. President, let me make one thing perfectly clear: we don’t want a national health care program administered by the U.S. government…the same government which is in the process of nationalizing the automobile industry, our banking system and more. You are destroying our country.

Or do you remember Hillary Rodham’s book “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us”? In the book Mrs. Clinton promotes a society in which all of a child’s needs should be met by individuals and groups outside the family. Really? The title of the book stirred immediate opposition. In 1996, Republican Presidential nominee Bob Dole said "... with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.” Amen, Senator Dole.

In his 1989 State of the Union address President G.H.W. Bush (#41) referred to a ‘thousand points of light’ reflecting the dominant theme of conservatism in the '80's. Problems, he said, weren't going to be solved by a central government. Problems were going to be solved by the thousands of individuals doing the right thing. He and Senator Dole were talking about personal responsibility. What a concept!

On life, some believe in destiny, that everything is predetermined, and they must play the hand they’ve been dealt. Many deal with it gracefully. Others say “Woe is me, this isn’t fair, why me?” They believe society’s problems are the government’s problems. While these problems may have been caused by the government do we really want the government to solve them? If you think you have it bad I have a cure for you: visit a Veteran’s hospital.

Others believe you create your own destiny. To an extent that is certainly true. Throughout life we have many choices to make (free will) and some make far wiser choices than others. We’ve all met people who literally make themselves sick, through worry, self-induced stress, bad habits, or other means.

So it follows that we have another choice…to have a more positive attitude and to deal directly with issues as they present themselves to us? Is it possible that there is a direct relationship between one’s physical and mental well-being? I am living proof that this is absolutely true.

Another who felt very strongly about that was prominent political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate Norman Cousins (1915-1990). His most riveting writing was about mind over illness.

Two of his writings were: • Anatomy of an illness as perceived by the patient : reflections on healing (1979), and • Head first : the biology of hope and the healing power of the human spirit (1989)

Cousins also served as Adjunct Professor of Medical Humanities for the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he did research on the biochemistry of human emotions, which he long believed were the key to human beings’ success in fighting illness. Battling heart disease and told that he had little chance of surviving, Cousins developed a recovery program incorporating mega doses of Vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.

Regarding celebrities and rock stars we glorify and, in some cases, deify them. At the same time we choose to ignore their lifestyles or song lyrics which directly impact the behaviors and future choices of our children. It is high time to redefine qualifications for the celebrity status we confer on so many who, quite simply, do not deserve the honor.

So, are you looking for a new role model, a new hero? How about anyone who has worn the uniform of our country in service to what is still, far and away, the greatest nation on Earth?

=================== EPILOGUE

Who is Cleary? I have never met anyone by the name of Cleary…but don’t you think there is someone named Cleary at this very moment, yet another fool, who is parting with his or his family’s money, who is wasting his life, and who will most assuredly suffer a premature death due to drug abuse? If you are out there Cleary, stop your foolishness right now, stop your senseless and selfish extracurricular and illegal activity and turn your life around now. It’s probably too late...but maybe not. And that goes for anyone else who is in the process of self-destruction. Why? Because I don’t want to pay for your healthcare.