Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
Thanks to Think Progress for the article. And here is the list of GOP politicians who once supported an individual mandate provision in health care reform. I think listing every single one of them is important.
Frmr. Gov. Mitt Romney (MA) | Frmr. Rep. Newt Gingrich (GA) | Frmr. Gov. Tim Pawlenty | Frmr. Sen. Bob Bennett (UT) | Frmr. Sen. Chris Bond (MO) | Frmr. Sen. William Cohen (ME) | Frmr. Sen. John Danforth (MO) | Frmr. Sen. Bob Dole (KS) | Frmr. Sen. Pete Domenici (NM) | Frmr. Sen. David Durenberger (MN) | Frmr. Sen. Duncan Faircloth (NC) | Frmr. Sen. Slade Gorton (WA) | Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) | Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT) | Frmr. Sen. Mark Hatfield (OR) | Frmr. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (KS) | Sen. Dick Richard Lugar (IN) | Frmr. Sen. Alan Simpson (WY) | Frmr. Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) | Frmr. Sen. Ted Stevens (AK) | Frmr. Sen. John Warner (VA) | Frmr. Sen. Hank Brown (CO) | Frmr. Sen. Conrad Burns (MT) | Sen. Dan Coats (IN) | Sen. Thad Cochran (MS) | Frmr. Sen. Paul Coverdell (GA) | Frmr. Sen. Larry Craig (ID) | Frmr. Sen. Judd Gregg (NH) | Frmr. Sen. Jesse Helms (NC) | Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) | Frmr. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne (ID) | Frmr. Sen. Trent Lott (MS) | Rep. Connie Mack (FL) | Frmr. Sen. Frank Murkowski (AK) | Frmr. Sen. Bob Smith (NH) | Frmr. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) | Frmr. Sen. Malcolm Wallop (WY) | Frmr. Sen. Don Nickles (OK) | Rep. Cliff Stearns (FL) | Frmr. Rep. Jim (LA) | Frmr. Vice President Dan Quayle (IN) | Sen. John McCain (AZ) | Sen. Scott Scott Brown (MA) | Frmr. Gov. Tommy Thompson (WI) | Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) | Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) | Sen. Mike Crapo (ID) | Frmr. President George H.W. Bush | Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) | Frmr. Sen. John Chafee (RI) | Sen. Jim DeMint (SC)
And here is a handy video that exposes the contradictions:
Once again, a technician helps a deaf person hear the sound of her own voice (and others) for the first time:
The New York Times is featuring an article this week about an experimental treatment for leukemia that could show a world of promise for current or future sufferers of leukemia and hopefully other types of cancer. In the method, which was used recently on William Ludwig, 65, of Bridgeton, N.J., doctors extracted a billion of Ludwig’s T-cells, altered them to identify and attack his cancer cells and then replanted the “tweaked” cells back into his body.
After the procedure, Ludwig experienced some fever and other symptoms but after a few weeks, the fever was gone and his cancer was in remission. The treatment was said to have killed two pounds of cancer cells, and a year hence, Ludwig is still cancer free.
Important news in court today in Virginia, as a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming the newly passed health care reform bill was unconstitutional in requiring companies to purchase insurance for their employees. According to the above-linked Reuters story:
U.S. District Judge Norman Moon ruled that the law requiring individuals to buy health insurance coverage as well as requiring employers to buy coverage for their employees was legal under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Moon found that without the coverage requirements in the law, the cost of health insurance would increase because the number of insured individuals would decline, “precisely the harms that Congress sought to address with the Act’s regulatory measures.”
Further, interstate commerce would be hurt by large employers failing to offer adequate healthcare coverage, thus “the employer coverage provision is a lawful exercise of Congress‘ Commerce Clause power,” said Moon, who was appointed by then-Democratic President Bill Clinton.
The suit was filed by Lynchburg, Va.-based Liberty University and a group of individuals. Liberty was founded by conservative Christian Jerry Falwell, and apparently his college heirs apparent are continuing the tradition of attempting to do away with every measure put on the table that may make lives of the lesser among us better in preference to policies that help quite inhuman companies and their owners. Such policies are, it seems, diametrically opposed to Christian doctrines, at least as I read them, but let’s not let that get in the way propping up more wealthier interests and, in turn, stamping down the poor in continuing to build up the empire that Falwell built and the empires that folks like Dobson, Warren and others are still building. For anyone not familiar with those two “empires” of Warren and Dobson, research their enclaves in California and Colorado, respectively, and find out for yourself. Sprawling campuses of power and wealth that, if sold for charity, could feed many thousands, if not millions, of mouths. But feeding mouths, feeding the 5,000 seems to not be the ultimate purpose anymore, and making life on this planet better isn’t the ultimate goal either (For what good is food for the hungry if the hungry don’t know God?), and therein lies the heart-wrenching tragedy that tears at me and co-thinkers on a daily basis.
The reactionary behavior continued this week over passage of the most sweeping piece of legislation in decades, as lawmakers are getting incendiary and offensive messages and voicemails from their angry, to the point of irrational (or, perhaps, some protesters were irrational to begin with), constituents. Rep. Bart Stupak, for instance, an anti-abortion Democratic lawmaker who was key in getting the bill passed, received a voicemail with these comments:
Think about this. There are millions of people across the country who wish you ill, and all of those negative thoughts projected on you will materialize into something that is not very good for you.
Is the caller really talking about Karma here or some sort of mystical conjoining of the minds against a mutually hated individual? If so, that tells us all we need to know about the caller.
Here is content from two other calls from CNN’s story:
“Stupak, you are a lowlife, baby-murdering scumbag, pile of steaming crap. You’re a cowardly punk, Stupak, that’s what you are. You and your family are scum,” an unidentified caller said. “That’s what you are, Stupak. You are a piece of crap.”
“Go to hell, you piece of [expletive deleted]” another caller said.
In a recent interview with CNN’s John King, Sen. John McCain, while not villifying Sarah Palin’s recent graphic that placed crosshairs over 20 House Democrats that “we” (McCain/Palin) carried in 2008 who voted for the health care reform bill, McCain did speak against over-the-top, and frankly, offensive and childish gestures by Steve King in front of health care protesters at the Capitol. Encouragingly, before John King even got a question out about Steve King’s action, McCain said,
Uncalled for, of course that’s uncalled for. Of course that’s uncalled for, John. And we see, from the person who yelled, ‘baby killer.’ But I think that we’ve gotta urge everybody to be respectful.
While I don’t necessary agree with most of McCain’s political stances, he has always proven to me that he has a rational and independent-thinking mind.
Here’s the interview:
The New York Times is reporting that the country as a whole is facing a shortage of seasonal flu vaccines, and it’s not hard to figure out why.
Personally, I get a flu shot every year. I have a somewhat weak immune system, and heck, even for a healthy person, getting the vaccine is a smart move. But with the various health scares littering newsprint this year, namely the H1N1 outbreak in summer, schools and elsewhere, folks are concerned, sometimes too much so, over whatever epidemic the media is touting this time around. The airborne illnesses that sweep the country each year are predictable and avoidable with proper care in hand-washing, etc. But these outbreaks get national attention, thus, as a residual effect, many folks have made darn well sure they are at least covered against the seasonal flu.
According to The Times report, somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 million people have gotten the seasonal flu shot this year, up from 61 million from last year at this time. I would argue that the increase is directly related to the scare over H1N1 and the flu in general, although the seasonal flu vaccine won’t be much help if you contract H1N1 (I don’t like referring to it as “swine flu” because that’s a misnomer).
H1N1 vaccines have been slow to reach some parts of the country. In fact, in some parts, people have probably already contracted the virus and gone on about their lives by the time the vaccine arrives. Regardless, this particular strain will probably have already mutated by the time it reaches rural America. In fact, this has been a point that has, rightly, frustrated health officials.
My amatuer advice: For the love of god, get your seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible and go about your business. The H1N1 will probably have mutated, come and gone, by the time the feds can get an H1Ni vaccine to health departments across the country. If a real epidemic were to break, we might consider actually being worried, given the exceedingly slow response to this current bout.
After a short layoff, let me continue to address the interesting question posed by this blogger about the role of government in the various issues of the day. Here, I will take abortion.
This issue touches on one important irony in political thinking in America. While the Democrats have long been proponents of professionally performed abortion, at least to some degree, since the landmark Roe vs. Wade case, Republicans have largely been against it, no matter if it’s days right after conception or into the third trimester. The irony, of course, is that many Republicans play the small government card when speaking on certain issues (gun control, deregulation of banks, for examples) and the large government card on social issues, like abortion and gay rights. So, which is it? Is the Republican Party generally for less government or not?
But back on point, the Constitution, obviously, has nothing to say specifically on abortion, but as it turns out, James Wilson, one of the founders said, if but briefly:
With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life, from its commencement to its close, is protected by the common law. In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb. By the law, life is protected not only from immediate destruction, but from every degree of actual violence, and, in some cases, from every degree of danger. — “Of the Natural Rights of Individuals”
The hinge word in the above quote would be “stir,” which is was likely pulled directly from English common law of the same time. Do embryos “stir.” I don’t think so. Wilson probably meant before the mother began feeling signs the baby was moving inside. The English government allowed abortions for a time during this period before the embryo “quickened,” which I take to mean before it ceased being a clump of cells and began taking on a human form in the womb. Or, perhaps, this definition was similar to Wilson’s. Eighteenth-century folk, steeped in centuries of religious tradition and an infantile scientific one, had no better way to tell when embyros began taking on more humanlike forms, other than when the mother started to feel it.
So, three periods of pregnancies, not available to our founders, must be addressed when looking at this issue: early-term abortions (months one-three), mid-term (months four-six) and late-term (months six-nine).
Of the first term, there’s no doubt that the fetus begins to develop human-like traits well into the first period. But in the first days, when women usually find out they are pregnant and realize they either can’t afford a child, or another one, they hopefully decide to seek medical care at that point if they don’t want to, or can’t, go through with the process. At this point in the pregnancy, early in the first term, you are talking about aborting a group of cells. A three-day old embryo is a blastocyte consisting of 150 cells that, indeed, are more than 100,000 cells fewer than what is contained in just the brain of a fly. Do human blastocysts have brains or souls? Can they feel pain? No. The moment of conception is not the point at which a group of cells (which of the 150 cells would the soul belong to?) receives a soul, if those exist, despite what some have been told or believe. As Sam Harris rightly notes, when you scratch your head, you just laid to waste a thousands of potential cells that could have produced life, just like the blastocyst.
(As a side note, opponents of stem cell research have done much harm in their stupified and unlearned attempts to stifle research of this kind, which could help those suffering today and now be alleviated from symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes and a host of others. It’s egregious and immoral that some often favor the well-being of undifferentiated cells to actual living, breathing, suffering human beings.)
It’s usually not until the second month when this group of cells begin forming something resembling hands and a bodily form. It can be argued that embryos become “human” when they develop a brain (or maybe a heart in the second trimester). That’s fair. But in these last two developmental stages, abortion remains a viable option in the case of rape or likely malformation. I don’t know that I would go further than that, however. An abortion in the second or third trimesters purely for convenience, I believe I would stand against, without contemplating the thought of whether or not there was a soul in the child, and citing ethical responsibility on the part of the parents.
The abortion question also begs another: What about miscarriages? Miscarriages present another problem, at least from arguments of faith. If God is in complete control, he has the distinct power to “bless” the parents with a healthy birth, and he also has the power to see that the baby is born healthy, or not. He also has the power to govern over the entire delivery process. It’s plain as day: if God hasn’t this power, and stands by while a fetus with a supposed soul is miscarried (we call it abortion if done by doctors), he’s not omnipotent. One could argue, from faith, that miscarriages are one of the results of living in a fallen world, but does God have complete control or not? I’ve heard it claimed he does many times, but if he does, he’s got an odd way of showing it. Thus, we say he moves in “mysterious” ways to give a non-answer to questions like this and to dodge the simple logic of it: he’s either in complete control and in complete awareness of the millions lost, or he’s not.
Just because I felt like writing tonight, and really for no other reason, I scooted over to Michelle Malkin’s oh-so-learned attempts at commentary (http://michellemalkin.com/), on which I found the lead “story” to be about an 11-year-old girl, Julia Hall, who asked President Obama a health care question during a recent town hall meeting in New Hampshire. From The Boston Globe:
A girl from Malden asked President Obama a question at Tuesday’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire about the signs outside “saying mean things” about his health care proposal.
Eleven-year-old Julia Hall asked: “How do kids know what is true, and why do people want a new system that can — that help more of us?” — The Boston Globe, Aug. 11, 2009
As it turns out, Julia’s mother was an Obama supporter during the 2008 election and a donor to the campaign in Massachusetts. Malkin, however, with her sardonic, “As we always like to point out: There are no coincidences in Obama world,” seems to suggest the girl was “planted” by the Obama administration to ask the question in order to make a point it felt needed making. The girl also queried Obama about the signs outside the town hall meeting “saying mean things” about Obama’s health care plan. Obama’s reply, which Malkin fails to include in her clunky polemic, was this, from The Globe:
“Well . . . I’ve seen some of those signs,” prompting laughter. “Let me just be specific about some things that I’ve been hearing lately that we just need to dispose of here. The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for “death panels” that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we’ve decided that we don’t — it’s too expensive to let her live anymore. And there are various — there are some variations on this theme.”
According to a White House transcript, Obama continued:
“It turns out that I guess this arose out of a provision in one of the House bills that allowed Medicare to reimburse people for consultations about end-of-life care, setting up living wills, the availability of hospice, et cetera. So the intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready, on their own terms. It wasn’t forcing anybody to do anything. This is I guess where the rumor came from.”
“The irony is that actually one of the chief sponsors of this bill originally was a Republican — then House member, now senator, named Johnny Isakson from Georgia — who very sensibly thought this is something that would expand people’s options. And somehow it’s gotten spun into this idea of “death panels.” I am not in favor of that. So just I want to — (applause.) I want to clear the air here.”
“Now, in fairness, the underlying argument I think has to be addressed, and that is people’s concern that if we are reforming the health care system to make it more efficient, which I think we have to do, the concern is that somehow that will mean rationing of care, right? — that somehow some government bureaucrat out there will be saying, well, you can’t have this test or you can’t have this procedure because some bean-counter decides that this is not a good way to use our health care dollars. And this is a legitimate concern, so I just want to address this.”
“We do think that systems like Medicare are very inefficient right now, but it has nothing to do at the moment with issues of benefits. The inefficiencies all come from things like paying $177 billion to insurance companies in subsidies for something called Medicare Advantage that is not competitively bid, so insurance companies basically get a $177 billion of taxpayer money to provide services that Medicare already provides. And it’s no better — it doesn’t result in better health care for seniors. It is a giveaway of $177 billion.
“Now, think about what we could do with $177 billion over 10 years. I don’t think that’s a good use of money. I would rather spend that money on making sure that Lori can have coverage, making sure that people who don’t have health insurance get some subsidies, than I would want to be subsidizing insurance companies.
“Another way of putting this is right now insurance companies are rationing care. They are basically telling you what’s covered and what’s not. They’re telling you: We’ll cover this drug, but we won’t cover that drug; you can have this procedure, or, you can’t have that procedure. So why is it that people would prefer having insurance companies make those decisions, rather than medical experts and doctors figuring out what are good deals for care and providing that information to you as a consumer and your doctor so you can make the decisions?
“So I just want to be very clear about this. I recognize there is an underlying fear here that people somehow won’t get the care they need. You will have not only the care you need, but also the care that right now is being denied to you — only if we get health care reform. That’s what we’re fighting for.” — The Boston Globe, Aug. 11, 2009
It is, indeed, “fishy,” as Malkin states that town hall meeting participants were “bussed in” to the event, as reported by WMUR of Portsmouth, N.H. But there is no proof these folks were bussed in specifically by the Obama administration to the town hall meeting to pad the seats, as it were. Actually, it would seem very likely that the folks who would be interested in attending town hall meetings would be supporters of the president. Would I, for instance, be eager to listen to Mark Sanford, the governor of my home state of South Carolina, talk about his opposition to the bailout funds and whine about how he’s sorry for having an affair with Maria BeLen Chapur with his four kids sitting at home? I think I would rather stay right here where the walls and this computer screen are more entertaining. The same, thus, likely held true at Obama’s town hall meeting. Boston is a hop, skip and jump from New Hampshire, so it’s not unlikely that Julia and her mother were in attendance. Plus, there is no rule that I know of to require a president or elected official to randomly, as if from a hat, select one questioner over another. My point is clear at this point: Malkin’s claim, and others’ is flimsy and unquantifiable.
But, for the fun of it, let’s examine a few of the comments given in the WMUR report by folks actually protesting, or not, outside the event. Here’s a small selection:
“… And I earned my health insurance. I paid for it with my money that I work very hard for.”
“Capitalism is America”
“A little rain for health care reform? Hey, I’ll do it.”
“They didn’t fix GM. They just propped them up with our money.”
“No profits, no health care.”
On the “capitalism is America” point, a co-worker of mine wrote a good piece recently in which he detailed a few irrevocable facts, which deconstruct this claim down through history: slavery is as anti-free-market as it gets, monopolies destroy the idea of capitalism and so does deregulation.
On the “earned” health insurance argument, I would say that many, who are not in as comfortable a position as the speaker, also pay for their own health insurance and still can’t afford their medical bills. Here is the crux of the entire argument. Let’s ignore for a moment (but certainly only for a moment), the millions of folks who do not have any type of coverage. Members of, what I would call the middle class or lower middle class, may have coverage (or once did but found it too expensive), but when something arises beyond their control, the coverage they have simply is meager. We don’t have to search long and hard to find examples:
The majority of the uninsured are neither poor by official standards nor unemployed. They are accountants like Mr. Thornton, employees of small businesses, civil servants, single working mothers and those working part time or on contract.
“Now it’s hitting people who look like you and me, dress like you and me, drive nice cars and live in nice houses but can’t afford $1,000 a month for health insurance for their families,” said R. King Hillier, director of legislative relations for Harris County, which includes Houston.
Paying for health insurance is becoming a middle-class problem, and not just here. “After paying for health insurance, you take home less than minimum wage,” says a poster in New York City subways sponsored by Working Today, a nonprofit agency that offers health insurance to independent contractors in New York. “Welcome to middle-class poverty.” In Southern California, 70,000 supermarket workers have been on strike for five weeks over plans to cut their health benefits. — The New York Times, Nov. 16, 2003
So, here’s the thing: the modernized countries who have some form of universal health care all are healthier than this country of dullards who would rather die under crushing debt and medical bills than adopt policies that may help, not just a few or some or half of our citizenship, but all of our citizenship. England, which even today, is still healthier than America on the whole, has full, universal coverage and has for more than 50 years (Private insurance is used by less than 8 percent of the population there)! As my cohort notes, Japan has no bankrupties caused by medical bills, while half of the bankruptcies in the U.S. are medically related. Some system, huh?
No one in this country knows what the final form of health care reform will look like, but I side with this commenter, who said, “A little rain for health care reform? Hey, I’ll do it.” As the saying goes, “If the system ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But it is broken. This country’s average life expectancy and health care, money-grabbing track record prove as much. The insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies have one thing on their collective, rabbit-ass minds: money, and the health and well-being of those riddled with illness, who can’t afford treatment even with insurance, be damned. We can only hope the reckoning will come soon.
The following is a running catalog of posts between myself and members of http://www.allmyfriends.org, which I love to death. I simply differ with some of them on health care.
One poster said:
It is a VERY touchy subject. Cigarette smoking is a disgusting habit and i have zero doubt it causes serious serious health problems but seems to me at this point that anyone who starts smoking knows exactly what they are getting themselves into. Medicare is a huge financial burden and its not going to get cheaper any time soon. We’ve got to have some personal accountability with things like this. Its way too easy for people to look towards the government to supply them with so many things. I dont know what the right answer is here, but its getting awfully scary as our government marches towards totalitarianism.
I said: The problem with personal accountability in regards to health care is that the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies are making too much money with the status quo. We can try to put stiffer controls on them, but will it do any good? I don’t know. Some lawmakers have as much to gain from the health care industry’s success as the insurance and pharmaceutical companies themselves. So, as long as people are making money, there is always going to be resistance to a universal system because greed will always get in the way of doing what’s best for everyone, rather than looking out for people who can’t help themselves. Perhaps the goal should be utilitarianism, but we, I think, have too many greedy people in high places to make that a reality.
A different poster said:
I fail to see where a company making money is bad… this is a capitalist country or rather it was. The pharmaceutical’s have programs to give reduced price or free meds to those who need them. Wal mart and other retailers now offer $4 precriptions, so maybe some folks need to let go of a value meal here or there to pay for it, but it’s not the pharmaceutical companies fault, there is just no more personal responsibility anymore. It’s always someone else’s fault.
I replied: The cost of health care is egregiously expensive, even for people who have insurance. The pharmaceutical companies have some programs, I know, and people may be able to get certain generic drugs at Wal-Mart for a few bucks (And many local counties have drug cards offering more discounts for people without other insurance coverage), but when one has regular bills to pay and then gets sick or a family member gets sick, the doctors wants tests run or drugs prescribed. Some drugs are still $60 or more with insurance, Singulair for one, of which, there is no comparable generic. My wife’s recent endoscopy ran $3,500, not counting the doctor’s fees. With insurance, that will put my tab at least $700-$800. I make over 30k a year, but I can’t just drop $700 on the desk when it comes due. So, my point was that it has nothing to do with personal responsibility. The poor certainly get left behind. They can go to the ER and get checked out, but the hospital isn’t going to treat them like they would a paying customer out of the kindness of their hearts. But the folks in the middle get left behind too. Company insurance for a family is freakin’ expensive by itself, and then when a sickness comes up, it helps, but it doesn’t help enough in a lot of cases. Companies have a right to make money, but not at the expense and detriment of others. Or heck, maybe they do; damn the rest of us. lol
The same poster replied:
Jer I dunno what ER you have around you, but my wife is a charge nurse in ours and I can tell you first hand that they don’t play favorites if you have insurance or not. The nurses don’t know (unless you’re a frequent flyer), until after they’ve already started treatment if the person has insurance or not. My wife gets pissed at people using the ER as their regular doctor, but she still treats them kindly, with respect and no different than someone who has insurance.
Cost of health care is high because people don’t take care of themselves. I’m guilty of it myself. The main reason it’s high is because of people that don’t pay regardless if they have insurance or not, we all get stuck footing their bills.
I replied: Yeah, it looks as though you and my wife were dealing with the same issue or something similar. She has complained about her stomach for at least two years and before, I was like, Jesus, I get the point: it hurts. But apparently it was a real concern. The doctor said she had gastritis and prescribed Nexium ($48 after insurance). But this health care thing is enough to piss anyone off when we know that Canada and England and others get free care, funded by an extra tax obviously, when we are having to pay exorbitant funds just for the right to get taken care of. I see the anti-tax argument clearly, but Christ, it seems like we are getting the short end of the stick and the insurance companies are reaping the rewards. Would the extra tax to pay for universal care really equal or surpass the cost of buying health care for a family through a company’s insurance plan? I doubt it. and bottom line: company health care plans are supremely expensive, so much so that at my last job, I couldn’t even afford to get my wife or myself on the company’s plan. We just did without. It’s maddening and nothing short of it.
The same poster replied:
Do some research, the “free” care isn’t free, nor is it efficient or good. My friends in Canada have insurance here so they don’t have to wait forever. Many countries that have socialized health care are wanting to move back to free market care because they can’t afford it. It’s so bad in England that they have new rules in place that refuse to treat certain things.
Obama’s plan will cost us over 2 trillion dollars, tell me who the fuck is going to be paying for that? the rich? hell no, the middle class will get fucked up the ass again for higher taxes to pay for this crap. So 2trillion (probably much more) and we’ll get the worse health care than you can possibly imagine. Oh and those of us who don’t “buy” into the socialized care will be taxed on our employer paid care, and they are talking about adding a VAT (value added tax) which is a federal sales tax, to go on top of state and local sales tax. So now that we cough up probably 70% of our money to taxes they want to push that to 90. If that happens I hope this country falls on it’s ass like Russia did. We need a wake up call to go back to freedom, free market capitalism, not this socialist/facist shit.
I replied: The plan will cost $1 trillion over 10 years, not $2 trillion, a big difference, although the TV and radio hosts may be purporting an inflated figure, it’s $1 trillion: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/us/politics/14address.html. I don’t think anyone is disillusioned enough to think tax increases won’t be imminent if the plan passes, but Obama has said he hopes to pay for it by “cutting more than $200 billion in expected reimbursements to hospitals over the next decade” and by identifying “‘an additional $313 billion in savings that will rein in unnecessary spending and increase efficiency and the quality of care.’” And: “He had already set aside in his budget what he calls a $635 billion ‘down payment’ toward the overall 10-year cost of the overhaul.”
Obama throughout has supported making the rich foot the largest bill when it comes to taxes, evidenced by the proposed tax increase for those making 250k or more. It’s certain that the middle class will see some tax increases, but is it inconveivable that the tax increases will be so astronomical that they will supercede what folks are already paying for health insurance premiums and co-pays on doctor visits and care at the hospital, which are already astronomical? It’s conjecture to say the middle class will get fucked in this thing (Unless we define “fucked” to mean any additional taxes whatsoever). That’s just anti-tax rhetoric. I personally pay 15% off the top toward health insurance for my wife and plus about 23/24 percent toward state and federal taxes. Where does the 70 percent figure come from? The economy and each family therein would meltdown in a days if we paid 70 percent of what we made to taxes.
Regarding health care, a quick look at life expectancies around the world (http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/sort.php) shows that most of the major European countries (and Canada) have longer life expectancies than the U.S. England bests us. Canada tops us by leaps and bounds in third place, with Singapore and Japan having the longest life expectancies. Of course, a lot of factors contribute to this – our slovenly lifestyle not the least of them – but it says something that the most developed countries in the world live longer than we do, the majority of which have some form of nationalized health care. It puzzles me that conservatives, generally, expend so much energy defending the free market system, privatized health care and the like, when it has done little more than expand the chasm between the rich and poor. Most of them do it out of ignorance (Here, I exclude you Dan, of course.), and when some other system would, perhaps, benefit them more. But they know no better, so whatever Rush or Glenn say, that’s the gospel.
On the fascist, socialist comment, we like to demonize words, and those two especially. The radio and TV conservative hosts especially like this. Again, I think, perhaps, the best bet is utilitarianism: attempt to provide the most good for the most people. I really don’t care what it’s called, but perhaps, achieving that end might be the best one. Sorry for blathering on … lol.
The same poster replied:
the 1 trillion is only for one part of the plan 1/3 if you take the other 2/3 that’s 3 trillion.
There is no way in hell that the rich will be footing this bill, it will be paid for by everyone. Obama has said 250k and up, then 200k and up then his aides said 150 and up so which will it be?
The alleged “savings” by having socialized care will never come about. the cost is so huge there is no possible way it can create savings.
We pay 20% to Feds then throw in sales tax, throw in gas tax, throw in property tax, and on and on and you can easily get to 70% now if they add tax onto our employer paid healthcare that’ll be another huge chunk of tax, and if they get their way for a value added tax which would add 14% sales tax on top of what you already pay for tax…
As for making sure everyone has everything they need… read the constitution, that is not the role of government. Sorry to all the libs and bleeding hearts, but this country wasn’t founded by laws stating the government will provided everything you need at the expense of everyone else. I have been beyond poor, and am now doing ok, not rich, but ok. If i can do it then everyone can, they just have to get up and do it no matter how hard it is. America is the biggest charitable country in the the world. We give and give and give and give and give yet we’re being FORCED to give more.. How is that right? Taking from my wife and I who bust our asses, put our lives on the line, to give to some drugged up asshat who doesn’t do anything but watch cartoons on his/her stolen tv and cable is not cool, not right, and not the American way.
I replied: We started adding to the Constitution almost right after it was written and ratified, as if to say, “Oh crap, perhaps we should have added some personal liberty laws in there (i.e. the Bill of Rights.),” so it’s not necessarily in bad taste to pass laws and add amendments as the times change. The Tea Party supporters, again taking a document written 222 years ago and attempting to apply it to modern times, seem to imply we should dismantle the Federal Reserve, Social Security, Medicaid, and the like (they deem them unconstitutional), but the latter two were, in part, created to help people who were victims, not benefactors of the sort of economy we created. In the 18th century, if someone was disabled naturally or by other means, they just stayed home and were supported by their families, who were, in all likelihood, farmers or blacksmiths or coopers or whatever. For the elderly, they would simply stop working and live with their families. Our society today is radically different. The factory boom and the industrial revolution didn’t get in full swing for this country until sometime in the early to mid-19th century, which ultimately, and eventually, dismantled the old, subsistence living lifestyle, at least in the north, and put people to work in factories. This made new generations largely dependent on someone else other than themselves for their livelihood (i.e. their bosses, their factory jobs, etc).
Some equated this new industry with a type of slavery because people largely ceased being free to make a living for themselves and made themselves laborers for someone else (This described you, me and millions of others). This to me, creates the vast divide between who we were when the Constitution was written and who we are now. Most everyone is not a subsistence farmer today. Most everyone was a subsistence farmer when the Constitution was written. So, the arguments about personal liberty and responsibility are great as they are, but 200 years have passed. We can’t dismantle everything and start over. Of course the Constitution did not lay out a plan to provide everything people needed to get by because it was not written in the 20th or 21st century; it was written at a time when we did not have the analogous problems we have now.
Where does the $3 trillion figure come from? You said $2 trillion previously. Is there a link to show that?
I didn’t say the rich would be footing the bill, and admitted the middle class and others would probably have tax increases. I indicated the rich would foot more of the bill. I hear your frustrations about the possibility of giving to “some drugged up asshat” after working hard for what you have – I work hard myself to provide for the wife and kid – but you ignore the others. Many people are hurting in this country who have legitimate, uncontrollable illnesses who are facing foreclosure and destroyed credit because their medical bills are simply too much. I point to one couple in Clayton, Ga. whom I wrote a story on a month and 1/2 ago. The wife was diagnosed with ALS a couple years ago. The husband has a chronic liver condition which forced him to stop working. They had purchased a house here about 10 years ago and were paying on it just fine until the husband got sick and had to stop working (He painted and the paint fumes would only exascerbate his condition.) Now, they are fighting a foreclosure battle and were set to foreclose and lose the house in early May. I haven’t heard what the current status was, but the husband said if his wife was forced to move, the move would literally kill her. ALS is probably the worst disease one can have because you are fully conscious mentally, while your body slowly, numbingly fails until either your lungs collapse or you choke on your own tongue.
I could care less about supporting the druggies seeking unemployment. I care about people who got sick, and found themselves in unchartered financial waters with no recourse. The crass stance of the conservatives is something to get angry about. They summon God and Jesus in every other sentence because that type of talk gets votes, but in the next sentence (or, covertly), favor the businesses who are getting rich on others’ suffering. It’s incongruous, and it’s hypocritical.
President Barack Obama on Monday signed an order undoing some of President George Bush’s limits on stem cell research, saying, “we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”
… by asserting “the centrality of science to every issue of modern life,” said Dr. Alan I. Lesher, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse under President Bill Clinton and, briefly, Mr. Bush. Mr. Obama is suggesting that science rather than ideology will be the foundation for his decision making. “What you are seeing now is both a response to the last eight years, and a genuine reaction to President Obama’s enthusiasm for science,” he said. — The New York Times
Well, to that, I say with restraint, “Hallelujah,” for there are apparently some other pieces of legislation that Congress must look at. But for too long, we have embraced policies that have essentially said, “We would rather see living, breathing, suffering people lose the chance of having an improved life than witness the death of stem cells, which, first, aren’t living, breathing people, and second, have the potential to become any number of human cells within the body.” Evangelicals, preachers, religious apologists and generally people who don’t know what they are talking about have carried the flag against stem cell research, thus delaying progress in a promising field of study that could help, dare I say, living, breathing humans beings suffering right now from any number of diseases like Parkinson’s, diabetes, emphysema, heart disease and others. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can develop into any of 200 human cell types. Bush, of course, seems to repeat the silly claim that stem cells are people with souls and has also carried the flag either out of ignorance or out of fear of upsetting his base voting bloc.
In a related editorial, The Times had this to say:
Mr. Obama also pledged on Monday to base his administration’s policy decisions on sound science, undistorted by politics or ideology. He ordered his science office to develop a plan for all government agencies to achieve that goal.
Sound science: another novel idea. Also for too long, the country has collectively said something like, “Let’s not base much of our research on science, let’s infuse some politics and ideology in there, for we don’t truly care about making this world a better place, we care about winning elections and catering to the religious folks who voted for us.”
Of course, all this makes sense if there’s a heaven waiting for us. Heck, what does it matter if thousands or millions more die because we inhibit the research necessary to save lives. We can convert them and someday meet back up with them in heaven, right? That’s a better place, in the end, isn’t it? Those who fall by the wayside with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s or whatever will get new, perfect bodies. Why bother with making the world a better place in the here and now, why bother with research, with science, with medicine, with astronomy or astrophysics: it’s all inconsequential to the all-encompassing knowledge that God, who seems to have no problem letting us fend for ourselves (sort of like the GOP), as he has for the last 2,000-plus years, will give us a new body in heaven? There’s simply no need to attempt to devise methods to help people dying from cancer or heart disease or with defunct organs, for they’ll be in a better place someday … if they believe.
Based on that thinking, it makes perfect sense to inhibit stem cell research on ideological grounds, that is, if you are willing to look away from the many afflicted with such chronic conditions that could be helped by stem cell research, of which, God can and will look away, as he has for millennia. Here, some will bring in the original sin argument that we are all under the cloak of original sin and this is why pain and suffering exist in the world. But there’s a problem: God’s omnibenevolence.
On the subject of suffering, John Loftus had this to say:
Here is the argument as stated by David Hume (Philo): ‘Is he (God) willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?’ But I want to be more precise. If God is perfectly good, all knowing, and all powerful, then the issue of why there is so much suffering in the world requires an explanation. The reason is that a perfectly good God would be opposed to it, and an all-powerful God would be capable of eliminating it, and an all-knowing God would know what to do about it. So the extent of intense suffering in the world means for the theist that either God is not powerful enough to eliminate it, or God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is just not smart enough to know what to do about it. The stubborn fact of intense suffering in the world means that something is wrong with God’s ability, or his goodness, or his knowledge. I consider this as close to an empirical refutation of Christianity as is possible.
To conclude, do we really care more about clusters of cells than people existing and suffering right now before our eyes? Witness a person dying of cancer or a person already in the coffin, looking thin and wrecked by months of suffering from the disease, and tell me that undifferentiated cells matter as much or more than living, breathing human beings. If you can do this, kudos to you, for you are stronger than I. But I can’t see the logic and my humanity makes me ache when religion or faith or ideology or politics gets in the way of research that could help — let me say it again — living, breathing human beings.
Footnote: If this post seems out of character for me or even shocking to family, friends or whomever might read this, the reason is that I’ve struggled with questions such as these for at least five or more years or longer. I could probably fill a book containing arguments just like this. The truth, as I see it, is the evidence does not add up and to prohibit meaningful, potential life-saving research such as this on religious or other ideological or political grounds is not only irrational, but cruel.