Freedom of Choice

I’ve been enjoying my time with my family (I taught my 18-month-old niece to say “tattoo” even though she can’t say my name yet) and friends, missing those who can’t be here. Every family has their own quirky traditions, mine being no exception. I would gripe about the news that the Obamas have an ornament on the White House tree bearing a picture of Chairman Mao, but I’m not sure that would do any good at this point.

What I really wanted to write about tonight is the healthcare takeover boondoggle that is playing out in the Senate. I almost cannot believe some of the outright bribery going on hasn’t managed to show up as so much as a blip on our collective radar. I say almost because I know how liberal the vast, overwhelming majority of the MSM is and I know what’s going on now is completely acceptable to them.

It is entirely UNacceptable to me. It should be to all of us.

Lousiana senator Mary Landrieu declared that she couldn’t be bought off just before accepting a $300M payoff for so-called “Gulf Coast recovery.” Nebraska senator Ben Nelson accepted a promise that Nebraska would never have to pay Medicaid expenses–millions of dollars that every other state in the Union cannot get out of. Hundreds of millions in buyoffs have been attached to the legislation about to pass the Senate, and every Democrat in elected office is defending this behavior.

This after Nancy Pelosi and co. announced in 2006 that they were going to fight against the “culture of corruption” in the Bush administration. Ironic, isn’t it?

All who support this legislation claim that healthcare is a right. It’s not fair, they say, for the uninsured to have no access to the same care that others do. What they’re conveniently forgetting is that nobody is denied access to care. According to the law, if you go to a hospital emergency room in need of medical attention they cannot refuse. If you are ill or injured, whether you’re insured or not, you’ll be taken care of. So I still don’t understand what they’re wailing about.

Let’s go over some of the facts. The complaint is that healthcare costs too much. They say it’s because insurance companies are greedy and they’re making money hand over fist in this business. Actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Insurance companies aren’t nearly as profitable as, say, trial law firms.

Doctors pay big bucks to go to medical school. They often end up in debt for their student loans afterwards, and they need to pay it back while making a living. On top of that, once they begin practicing they need something the vast majority of the populace doesn’t need: malpractice insurance. They need something to guarantee financial security in the event that a lawyer ends up suing and winning in a big way. That insurance is expensive, starting off at $20,000 annually and getting up to $275,000 annually, depending on the specialty.

Then there’s equipment. The high-tech equipment that helps run everything from a family physician’s office to a major metropolitan hospital comes with a price tag that would make most of us go nuts trying to compute. One single x-ray machine costs upwards of $8,000, while an MRI scanner costs around $3M.

Unfortunately, healthcare is run by people. Not just nurses and doctors, mind you–there are lab techs, x-ray techs, MRI techs, CT techs, patient care techs, phlebotomists, janitors…millions of people have jobs in the healthcare industry. They have to be paid. That isn’t cheap, either, considering most of them require special education for their fields as well. I looked into going to school for respiratory therapy and nearly had heart failure at the cost, which I was not willing to get a student loan for, no matter how much money they make.

All of this has to be considered when debating healthcare. It’s not cheap to provide because it’s not cheap to keep it running. To complain that healthcare should be a right means you have to be willing to accept that having a certain amount of income, whether employed or not, is also a right. It is pure socialism, like it or not.

This is also the first time in America’s history that the government has suggested mandating that every citizen, regardless of circumstance, purchase anything. Car insurance is a different issue; driving a car has the potential to affect many people if a driver gets stupid behind the wheel, and driving is not something that everyone does. This legislation is suggesting that every single citizen of this country must be insured, whether by a private company or the government. That strips us of some of our most basic freedoms. And, like it or not, it brings us one giant step closer to a socialist America, one void of the freedoms I hold so dear.

Then again, we have the FDA banning certain products left and right simply because some people are irresponsible with them (such as ephedrine, which I liked, and alcoholic energy drinks–my Jaegerbombers will be illegal soon!).

The government admitted the need to stay out of my bedroom. Now they need to stay out of the rest of my life unless I commit a crime. Nobody has any business whatsoever forcing me to pay for someone else’s healthcare. We had federal welfare once that operated in a similar fashion.

It was a disaster, resulting in entire generations living off the government dole without ever working a day in their lives. I will not give up one freedom, my freedom of choice (which you Dems seem so keen on when it comes to abortion), for some imagined “right” to substandard healthcare that I wouldn’t have bought when I had the right to provide my own care.

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10 thoughts on “Freedom of Choice

  1. While I’m not at all surprised that the Senate just passed Obamacare 60-39 (which Repub was missing?….like it mattered?), I am gravely concerned about how this bill will impact our economy.

    I fundamentally challenge the notion that healthcare in the USA is in “crisis” or that there is a “problem” with it. All because some people lack health insurance does not mean that our entire system is bad. Consistently, 85% of Americans HAVE health insurance. That means that the vast majority of Americans have health insurance. Why is healthcare, then, a problem? Because liberals see the glass always half empty. If there is one person in America without health insurance, they will moan about the “injustice” of it all! They have to find “problems”, “injustice”, “unfairness”, etc. and then after they convince a majority of us (usually the cognitively impaired, bleeding heart-types), they force us to work harder for less money (because they end up taking more of our paychecks) to “solve” these “problems” (since, of course, all “solutions” to their “problems” MUST involve big government and the creation and/or expansion of entitlement programs).

    Obama himself compared the passage of this bill to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. And look at these programs now! Social Security is always in crisis. It is a failed program which forces young people to invest in a low-yield retirement savings account. It prevents many of us from individually investing in IRA’s and other potentially more profitable retirement accounts. Now, we are paying for older people while increasingly coming to terms with the fact that we will see bubkas when we get to be elderly! Medicare and Medicaid are failed programs, too. Medicaid is bankrupt (it has 37 million dollars in unfunded liabilities). Medicaid and Medicare pay doctors and hospitals much less than private insurers and cover less care! These entitlement programs should NEVER have been implemented (they are overtly unconstitutional — ever hear of “no taxation without representation”?) and should be immediately repealed.

    This health care nonsense just further solidifies my own conservatism. Given that many gay Americans are financially stable, the gay and lesbian community should come out (no pun intended) in firm opposition to Obamacare. It will NOT help us! It is not even a gay issue. It is an individual rights issue!

    Thanks, Mel, for an excellent article!

  2. Avi, if this post hadn’t been so long already I’d have gone over Medicare and Medicaid myself…thank you for bringing up those points. They are quite valid and are being ignored wholesale by Democrats trying to ram this down our throats.

    For those who haven’t seen the news yet, The Senate did pass the HELLth-care overhaul entirely along party lines. Now all that’s left to do is merge the House and Senate bills and Obama will have his damned legacy.

  3. “Because liberals see the glass always half empty. If there is one person in America without health insurance, they will moan about the “injustice” of it all! ”

    Amen Avi. There is also their silly and stupid idea that America is a rich nation. So, we have to spread it around whether we want to or not. Many people do spread it around through charitable giving. America should not have homeless people or hungry people or any poor people. That’s the notion.

    Well…if someone doesn’t want to work any job and trust me there are people out there like that, the rest of us are supposed to pay for that?

    If someone would rather get drunk or high vs. staying sober and working a job, the rest of us are supposed to pay for that?

    If someone decides to quit high school and ends up in a dead end job and has no ambition, the rest of us are supposed to fill that gap?

    Injustice? Making the rest of us pay for just because we are a wealthy nation is the injustice.

    Here is California, every employee except for Federal employees pay into the State Disability Insurance fund. We pay 1.1% of our wages into this fund. If we are injured or become ill due to a non job related cause, then we can get disability payments until we recover or go on permanent disability. Sounds good eh?

    Guess what state disability covers? It covers people who get pregnant. A pregnant woman can go on maternity leave and get the state of California to pay for it. Pregnancy is a choice. It is a normal state of being. Being pregnant is not an illness or injury. But here in CA it is and the rest of us pay for it.

  4. Case in point…there is someone in my family (I do not claim him) who is a drain on everyone he is related to. He’s already spent time in prison for his drug addiction-fueled thefts out on the East coast. Now he’s here in AZ and is still stealing to feed his drug habit. I have no idea how he came from that part of my family because they’re all hard-working, decent people.

    He has no disability, yet now he’s managed to swipe a powered wheelchair and he’s put signs all over it to gain sympathy while he panhandles. He’ll then take it to a relative’s house, plug it in, and go spend the night in a hotel with his pseudo-girlfriend getting tripped out on meth.

    To hear him say it, the whole world owes him something. The guy makes more per year in panhandling than I do working a real job, and he’s a leech on the system here. He’s even gone so far as to try to get into fire stations by telling them he knows me. He is a very talented construction worker and could make quite a bit of money working in facilities, repairs or remodeling, yet he chooses to live the way he does, as do many of those like him who use the money they get from begging for booze and drugs.

  5. Somewhere along the way, people decided life should be “safe.” I’m not sure when or why that happened – because “safe” also means static. Things don’t get better. It is risk, risk that we accept and understand is present, which leads to innovation and advancement and success.

    And it’s also the way we learn. From childhood, we make small mistakes – from those smaller mistakes we learn lessons that allow us to avoid the larger mistakes. Do your homework or you will fail and have to repeat a grade leads to do your work or you will get fired. Eat healthy and exercise and you won’t get fat leads to healthier adults who have learned self discipline about what they put in their mouths and the importance of doing things you really don’t feel like doing (does ANYONE look forward to running? Because I hate it).

    So, what happens when you take away consequences for the young? When you pass them up a grade no matter how crappy or nonexistent their work is? When you tell them from day one how wonderful they are and praise them whether they accomplish something or not? When they get awards JUST FOR SHOWING UP?

    It leads to this. A President who gets a peace prize just for showing up. The Nobel committee passed over Irena Sendler, but not someone who had been President of the United States a mere two weeks at decision time? And it leads to ever encroaching parenting by the state. At first they just told kids what they could and could not drink at school (one of the schools I taught at had banned all sodas – purchases on site or brought from home), now they’re telling the rest of us. Great.

    Mel – I highly recommend Frank Luntz’s book “What Americans Really Want… Really.” It’s great. Terrifying, but great.

  6. “Somewhere along the way, people decided life should be “safe.” ”

    AFW

    I don’t know if this counts as being Safe. Somewhere along the line it was decided nobody can have hurt feelings. While it is rather boorish and unkind to go around hurting the feelings of others; having your feelings hurt is not the end of the world.

    But, no, we can’t offend others. Even thought of it is wrong.

    So, we give everyone on the sports team a trophy even when nobody on the team has EARNED one.

    We ban a public celebration of this or that because a small group of people who don’t celebrate this or that won’t be offended.

    We rename things because calling them what they were might hurt the feelings of someone else.

    On and on it goes.

  7. “Case in point…there is someone in my family (I do not claim him) who is a drain on everyone he is related to.”

    Every Sunday on the way to church I stop by the 7-11 for coffee. Every Sunday all or most of the same homeless clique gathers. I’ve gotten to know the guys.

    They stay out of the shelters because the shelters have too many rules. These folks don’t like rules. The shelters around here are not teeming with mentally ill people out of control. But they have curfew rules and such.

    All they want is money for their drug of choice. Alcohol is the favorite amongst them. They don’t want food. Soup kitchens and food pantries have food.

    Ideally if any of these men could panhandle their way to unlimited liquor and a roof over their head then they would do it. But, the liberals if they get their way will provide all of that courtesy of you and I.

  8. “What I really wanted to write about tonight is the healthcare takeover boondoggle that is playing out in the Senate”

    Takeover? That’s rich. I’m going to need you to explain how exactly this bill has even the slightest semblance of a takeover on the government’s part. The government is not involved one iota in providing insurance to anyone in this country under this bill. I figured if anything, you’d love it, seeing as how there’s that lovely little mandate to buy insurance from the very companies that caused the need for reform in the first place. And if you sincerely think that subsidies are a sign of a takeover, we need to have a serious chat about how government works.

    “Hundreds of millions in buyoffs have been attached to the legislation about to pass the Senate, and every Democrat in elected office is defending this behavior.

    This after Nancy Pelosi and co. announced in 2006 that they were going to fight against the “culture of corruption” in the Bush administration. Ironic, isn’t it?”

    What’s ironic is that those people who were bribed (and that is what it was) are conservatives. Every single thing that has weakened this bill in the last two weeks has been to placate conservatives, so bribery should surprise no one. What is surprising is that the leadership of the Democratic Party gave into the demands of scumbags like Nelson and Lieberman.

    “All who support this legislation claim that healthcare is a right. It’s not fair, they say, for the uninsured to have no access to the same care that others do. What they’re conveniently forgetting is that nobody is denied access to care. According to the law, if you go to a hospital emergency room in need of medical attention they cannot refuse. If you are ill or injured, whether you’re insured or not, you’ll be taken care of. So I still don’t understand what they’re wailing about.”

    Yes you do, you’re just being disingenuous. If you have a brain tumor, can you go to the ER for treatment? No. If you can’t live with the sometimes debilitating effects of Parkinson’s (like my uncle has), can you be treated by the ER? No. If you have non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, can you carry out your treatment in an emergency room? No, you cannot. Don’t sit there and claim that everyone has access to the care they need, because they don’t. People die every day because they don’t have access to the things I mentioned. Emergency rooms are for just that – immediate emergencies. And I never thought I’d see the day where a con actually advocated for people to use the ER as their primary care, which, guess what, gets passed along to those with insurance in the form of higher premiums.

    “The complaint is that healthcare costs too much. They say it’s because insurance companies are greedy and they’re making money hand over fist in this business. Actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Insurance companies aren’t nearly as profitable as, say, trial law firms.”

    Uh, what? Is it really your contention that insurance companies are not making obscene amounts of money for denying people care? I’m trying to figure out whether you’re incredibly naive or just a liar. What exactly do you call former UnitedHealth CEO Bill McGuire’s $1.7 Billion payout when stepping down from that company? A model of self restraint and fair pay? Or How about United’s current CEO, Stephen Hemsley, who’s raked in $700 Million for five year’s “work”? If this isn’t Reagan’s mantra of “greed is good” at work, I don’t know what is. I mean, where the hell do you think their salaries come from? It comes from premium dollars. $1.7 Billion is a lot of denial letters…

    “Unfortunately, healthcare is run by people. Not just nurses and doctors, mind you–there are lab techs, x-ray techs, MRI techs, CT techs, patient care techs, phlebotomists, janitors…millions of people have jobs in the healthcare industry. They have to be paid. That isn’t cheap, either, considering most of them require special education for their fields as well.”

    What does this have to do with insurance or insurance companies? Doctors and nurses aren’t the ones walking away with nearly two billion dollar paychecks. I’m interested in the correlation you’re attempting to make.

    “To complain that healthcare should be a right means you have to be willing to accept that having a certain amount of income, whether employed or not, is also a right. It is pure socialism, like it or not”

    Well, here’s a chance to get a con to admit what we all know they’re thinking. Should elementary education no longer be considered a right? Should we scrap our police and fire departments in favor of going back to the old days where if you didn’t have a medallion on the outside of your door indicating payment, the fire dept. just kept on driving if your house caught fire? And how about our infrastructure? Because those all seem to be acceptable forms of socialism in this country. But somehow, the health of our citizenry is something you’re okay with seeing fall by the wayside. It’s quite astonishing. And by astonishing, I mean disgusting.

    “This is also the first time in America’s history that the government has suggested mandating that every citizen, regardless of circumstance, purchase anything.”

    Funny, I thought you’d love that.

    “This legislation is suggesting that every single citizen of this country must be insured, whether by a private company or the government.”

    The government administered public option is no longer in the bill. You should probably update your talking points.

    “That strips us of some of our most basic freedoms. And, like it or not, it brings us one giant step closer to a socialist America, one void of the freedoms I hold so dear.”

    I get so sick of hearing this bullshit talking point. It lost what little meaning it had so, so long ago. Apparently, to people like you, the freedom to die because you were denied coverage on the basis that your teenage acne was a pre existing condition is one you hold dear. The freedom to see your premiums rise many times over while insurance company profits skyrocket 429% in seven years is so very sacred. Socialism. You people have no fucking clue what socialism is. This health care bill is nowhere near what every other industrialized nation on the planet has in terms of coverage (but there’s still the conference committee, and reconciliation down the line). Perhaps you should ask yourself why it is, in other democracies around the world that have true universal coverage, not once have any of those countries attempted to abolish that system. If this really is the scourge that you’re laughably trying to convince anyone with half a brain to believe it is, you would have seen just that scenario taking place all over the world. As it turns out, people aren’t as dumb as you’d like them to be.

    “Nobody has any business whatsoever forcing me to pay for someone else’s healthcare.”

    And yet it happens every day. Remember that ER that you want people to use?

    “It was a disaster, resulting in entire generations living off the government dole without ever working a day in their lives.”

    Bullshit. I love how cons continually use lies and misrepresentations years after truth and facts have quelled any such notions.

    “I will not give up one freedom, my freedom of choice (which you Dems seem so keen on when it comes to abortion)”

    But you don’t for some reason…

    “for some imagined “right” to substandard healthcare that I wouldn’t have bought when I had the right to provide my own care.”

    You still have the right to provide your own health care. It would really benefit everyone if you’d stop pretending that you’ll somehow be forced to stop paying for private insurance on your own.

    Also, I think it’s hilarious (in a purely sociopathic way) that cons think the idea of keeping yourself alive being a right is abhorrent, but tax cuts for the richest of he rich in a time of war is not only a right, but a paramount one at that. I don’t know about you, but I think Jesus was all about cutting taxes, not some silly notion of taking care of sick people. Sometimes I wonder how you people sleep at night. Although that leads back to the sociopathy…

  9. “Also, I think it’s hilarious (in a purely sociopathic way) that cons think the idea of keeping yourself alive being a right is abhorrent”

    For every “right”, we have a “responsibility” to it.

    Whenever something is deemed as a “right” like education, you get what we call the public schools. Think about that. The more we have rammed this “right” through, the more our schools vastly decay.

    People have a responsibility to take care of themselves first and foremost before they have the “right” to do anything.

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