Friday, September 25, 2009

Here's to your health!

In 1945 Harry Truman sent a message to Congress asking for legislation establishing a national health insurance plan.

Two decades of debate ensue with those opposing progress warning of the dangers of "socialized medicine". On July 30, 1965 Medicare and Medicaid are signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Ex-president Harry Truman is the first to enroll in Medicare.

I think we would all agree that that these are pretty damn good programs. Health care for the elderly, prenatal and postnatal care for the impoverished mother and child and care for the disabled.

Here's another tidbit of history. The following is an entry from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s journal. He was a top White House aide in and subsequent historian of the Kennedy White House.

May 14, 1962. The White House.
I forgot to record a remark of the President's last Friday. He was commenting on the Eisenhower press conference the day before. "The thing I liked best," he said, "was the picture of Eisenhower attacking medical care for the old under Social Security as 'socialized medicine'-and then getting into his government limousine and heading out to Walter Reed."

The same hypocrisy lives on 47 years later.

Let's examine for a moment the notion of "socialized medicine". This is where the entire health care apparatus is owned by the state. Hospitals and clinics. Doctors work for the state. Take the United States armed forces for example. They enjoy "socialized medicine" at it's purest level. But no one is even talking about anything close to this. What is being proposed is collectivism. While it differs from individualism it also differs greatly from socialism which I have previously explained. Here's a couple of thoughts on the meaning of collectivism said better than I can.

"Collectivism requires self-sacrifice, the subordination of one's interests to those of others."
Ayn Rand, Letters of Ayn Rand

"Collectivism, unlike individualism, holds the group as the primary, and the standard of moral
value" Mark Da Cunha, Capitalism MagazineItalic
"This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you." Christ, John
15:12 NIV

I posted the last passage just to put things into a spiritual context. If you don't believe, that's your right. You're wrong, but it's your right.

If I am posed the question of whether I am my brother's keeper, my answer is "you bet your ass I am." Health care is not a privilege. It's as much a human right as food and shelter. We provide our prisoners with health care. Congress provided every single Iraqi citizen with universal health care, but leave our own citizens out in the cold.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to talk about the financial impact if nothing at all is done. Current health care dollars are sapping capital investment and research in the private sector. Have a government job with great benefits? Say goodbye. Your benefit dollars are competing against essential services and the taxpayers are getting fed up. Haven't had a raise in a couple of years or not what you thought you deserved? Sure you did, it just went to pay your rising health care premiums instead of going into your pocket. Surprised by rising deductibles and co pays? Have to think about the out of pocket costs before seeing the doctor? This is the new health care model of the health insurance companies. Drink the kool-aid. .

Where is the moral outrage we had against the HMOs in the 1980's. Nothing changed. We just got used to being treated as an account number rather than a human being. Hell, my veterinarian spends more time with my cat than my doctor does with me. People say private insurance companies can't compete with a government funded option. Why not? Efficiency is the only answer. The government is going to have to collect more than it pays out. It has to build prudent reserves. Maybe not at the same obscene rate as the health insurance industry does however. Do I want the government making decisions about my health care? Let me ask myself, do I trust the government to be more compassionate than an insurance company when making decisions about my health care? Damn right I do.

Also, this is not a referendum against President Obama as the far right fringe would like us to believe. This is a referendum on the future of our nation.

Even though President Obama won by a larger margin than any non-incumbent in American history, the are still 47% of this country that did not want "that man" to be our President. And it doesn't seem as though the most vitriolic of the bunch are going to let the democratic system work. These are the folks who scream over normal discussion at town hall meetings. These are the cowards who try to take guns to town hall meetings. People amaze me. You gotta have a license to get a dog, but anybody can breed.

Lastly, what do people really believe. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, 63% of physicians favor a public insurance option and Medicare expansion while 69% of the American population does also. The silent majority has been much to silent during this debate. Tell your senator and congressman what the citizens of Maine have told Sen. Olympia Snowe(R), if you vote against this proposal, we will no longer require your services when the next election rolls around. If you care about your country, call or email your elected officials in Washington. If you are on the other side of the fence, save this blog and read it in ten years when the United States no longer enjoys the position in the world that it does now because our status quo health care has bankrupted us as a nation. I speak the truth.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gibsons killed Main Street

Long before the evil behemoth that we love to hate Wal-Mart emerged from the bowels of Bentonville, Arkansas there was another mass market retailer on the scene. Luring us with their wide variety of merchandise from cans of corn to a 30-06 deer rifle.

I grew up in Del Rio, Texas. A magical little berg on the border of Mexico 150 miles from anywhere. Life was good as we knew it. As a child, we went to the movies at the Rita Theater. One screen and we watched what the Prides wanted us to watch that week. I don't remember the price to get into the movie or the price of concessions, but I remember that it wasn't much. I always had enough left over after admission to get a suicide to drink and a box of milk duds that also served the purpose of keeping our dentist Dr. Crouch in business.

We sat on Santa's lap and told him what we wanted for Christmas at Beall's. We bought our hounds tooth and baby blue Wranglers as well as our wing tip boots from Prosser Martin. Later, we bought our funky jeans at the Tree House. We got our prescriptions filled and bought gifts at Ross Drug Store. Edwards Graham Insurance was still on Main Street. Both banks had the words Del Rio in their names and were across the street from each other. We purchased our furniture and appliances from the Builtas and the Wipffs. We could buy almost anything at the S. H. Kress store for a fair price. We bought our sneakers from the the Felans and our toys from the Houghtons. We bought our Dad's ties from Major Dobkins and my first suit came from the Guarantee during their big sale they had every year.

I'm not saying that change and progress are a bad thing, but when old man Gibson rolled into town and set up shop my hometown changed. Those of us that lived up on "the hill" as north Del Rio was referred to were less likely to visit downtown with the hassles of parking and traffic. The pharmacist at Gibson's became a trusted friend as did the guys behind the sporting goods counter. Gibson's is gone now but so is the Main Street that I knew. Damn Gibsons.

I speak the truth.