Sunday, April 04, 2010

What Makes America Different?

Every morning before I get out of bed, and after a couple of snooze-cycles, I pluck my iPhone from its charger (a wonderful iHome clock-radio, actually, that Mrs. Dalai gave me for my birthday) and try to catch up on the news from FoxNews and DrudgeReport.  This is, of course much to Mrs. Dalai's annoyance because the iPhone screen is so bright, but I try to point it away from her.  I also read the daily columns on the conservative site  Austin Hill, author and talk show host in Boise, had a most interesting item today that sent me off on some mental tangents.  More on that shortly. 

Hill's piece for today, "Note to Doctors: Now I'm "Entitled" To Your Services," celebrates yet another gaff by Vice President Joe "One Heartbeat Away" Biden:

And the idea is, simply, this: when government takes wealth away from certain individuals and groups, and gives it to certain other individuals and groups, such actions are NOT to be called “economic re-distribution.” Such actions are to be described as “fairness.”

Responding to claims that President Obama’s “healthcare” agenda is a matter of economic re-distribution, Biden stated "it's a simple proposition to us: Everyone is entitled to adequate medical health care. If you call that a 'redistribution of income' -- well, so be it. I don't call it that. I call it just being fair -- giving the middle class taxpayers an even break that the wealthy have been getting."

It sounds compassionate for a politician to say “everyone is entitled to adequate medical health care,” but stop and consider the implications of this statement. Vice President Biden – along with President Obama and the majority of the members of the U.S. Congress – have confirmed in the minds of at least some portion of the American public that they are “entitled” to the services of another human being.

Those “other” human beings are, of course, Medical Doctors, people who invest huge chunks of their time and energy and often delay gratification of their personal lives for a decade or more and frequently incur enormous personal debt just earning the right to practice their craft. And now the U.S. federal government says that “the rest of us” are entitled to a piece of these individuals. In previous generations, the idea of being entitled to the services of another person was called “slavery.” Can we really call this “fairness” today?

And notice how easily Vice President Biden, all within two sentences, seeks to sell the idea of Obamacare, with the implication that is balanced on the backs of “the rich.” By implying that somehow “rich people” have been getting an “unfair” advantage, he suggests that Obamacare gives “tax breaks” to the “middle class.”

The founders of our great nation recognized that, after a few thousand years of civilization and multiple, painful attempts by governmental leaders to create “fair” societies, the best hope for humankind was to construct a society of freedom, where individuals can freely chose to do business with one-another (or choose not to). This characterization of freedom and “fairness” runs counter to the type of governmental constructs that Barack Obama grew-up with in Indonesia , and bares little resemblance to the world he knew in Chicago , but it is, nonetheless, distinctly American.
We health care plan naysayers are bombarded with rhetoric that attempts to convince us that we are wrong, that Vice President Biden and Mr. Obama himself are correct, and we are priggish greedy thugs to think otherwise.  What do we hear most commonly?  "Every other industrialized nation in the world provides health care, every nation but ours!  How embarrassing."  Yes, the United States is the one nation resisting "fairness".  And this got me thinking. 

As we are in the waning days of Passover, let's ask this question:  "Why is this nation different from all other nations?"  The answer is so simple, yet very difficult to see:  This nation was born in freedom, a Democratic Republic (not a true Democracy per se), and never, ever had a monarchyTHAT is the difference.  As a nation of immigrants, virtually all of our ancestors WERE subservient to a monarch, but NONE of us are TODAY.  Now, look at every single major industrial nation out there that has socialized medicine or some variation thereof:  Canada, Australia, England, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Greece, and so on.  They all either have a monarchy now or had one within the past century.  (Yes, I realize the more distant members of the British Commonwealth aren't that tied to the Queen, but the relationship exists.)  The only significant exceptions are Israel and Switzerland, neither having a recent history of monarchy.   However, their health care models are based almost completely on private insurance, so they probably don't count.  And yes, France got rid of their monarchy a good while back, but, well, it's France, isn't it?

I submit to you that it is the mentality of subjugating ones' self to a monarch, to the embodiment of the State, that allows the other nations to condone the confiscatory practices necessary to accomplish this end.  THIS is why socialized medicine and other such programs did not meet with public approval here in the United States in years past, and they still don't, despite the statements of the President and Congress otherwise.  I'm sure this thought will arouse considerable anger in those who support the Abomination, but read on before commenting.

Richard M. Ebeling, Professor of Economics at (very conservative) Hillsdale college wrote, "National Health Insurance and the Welfare State" as part of a pamphlet, "The Dangers of Socialized Medicine," published in 1994 at the height of the Hillary-Care fiasco.  Much of what the Clintons tried to do has now been accomplished (we hope only transiently) by Mr. Obama, and there were loud voices against the trend even then. 
The drive for socialized medicine is not occurring in an ideological vacuum. It is another step in the trend of ideas that have dominated the world for more than a century. It is a trend founded in the belief that the individual is neither strong enough nor intelligent enough to plan his own affairs and to bear the primary responsibility for his own circumstances—and that the state has the wisdom and capability to manage the individual’s affairs better than the individual himself.
Now, here's a question I have never heard asked in the current round of discussion:  Who first had the idea for socialized medicine?  I'm sure you'll be as surprised as I was:
The modern welfare state and the implementation of socialized health care arose in 18th-century Germany, during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm 11 and the administration of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. In the 1870s, the Social Democratic Party had acquired increasing support among the German electorate and threatened to obtain a majority in the Reichstag, the German Parliament. The democratic triumph of Germany’s socialist party seemed likely in the near future. The German monarchy and the conservative parties realized that something had to be done to deflect support away from the socialists and back to the established order.

Thus, the Kaiser sponsored welfare-statist legislation that was enacted by the Reichstag. Bismarck had this tactical goal in mind: the masses would shift their support from the radical program of the socialist movement to a renewed allegiance for the monarchy and the political status quo...

Bismarckian state socialism meant to save the established order from revolutionary upheaval and societal disintegration by admitting many of the criticisms that socialists made against a market economy—exploitation of the workers by employers, self-interested behavior that fails to serve the general welfare, poverty of the many in the midst of material riches enjoyed by the few—and by introducing a series of interventionist and welfarist policies that were to improve the economic lot of the masses while saving what was good and worth preserving in the traditional social order.
Ebeling goes on to quote Frederic C. Howe, an American Progressive who served Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal who wrote in 1915 about why the German people were accepting of socialist policies:
There is almost no dissent to the assumption of state supremacy, of subordination of the individual, of the necessity for personal and class sacrifice to the Fatherland. . . .The individual exists for the state, not the state for the individual. . . .This paternalism does not necessarily mean less freedom to the individual than that which prevails in America or England. It is rather a different kind of freedom. . . .
Ebeling notes:
Nineteenth-century Imperial Germany, therefore, was the starting point and the inspiration for the “social” liberalism—the state socialism—that triumphed over classical liberalism in the 20th century. But besides being an intellectual inspiration for the global growth of the welfare state, it also provided an example of the consequences that would follow once the state undertook the task of provision and supervision of national health insurance. And that experience is worth looking at in some detail.
Which he proceeds to do, and I won't repeat it all. Suffice it to say, the program was quite generous:
The insurance funds were managed by representatives of employers and labor unions in an industry. The government required that at least a sum equal to one and one-half of the average wage in an occupation be contributed to the fund by each firm, with the contribution being split on the basis of two thirds being paid by the employee and one third by the employer. And as a result, worker representatives made up two thirds of the members on the board of each fund.

Benefits first included thirteen weeks of free medical care and a cash payment equal to fifty percent of the prevailing wage in the pertinent occupation, with the cash benefit starting on the fourth day of an illness. After 1903, free medical care and cash payments were expanded to a period of twenty-six weeks. In case of hospitalization, the cash payment was cut in half. Besides these basic benefits, the compulsory-insurance funds often provided cash benefits equal to seventy-five percent of the worker’s pay (depending upon family size), and by the 1920s, these cash payments often started only one day after an illness began. Financial coverage was also extended to include nursing services and convalescent treatment for up to a year after the end of cash benefits. Maternity benefits were mandatory as well.
Sadly, the plan did exactly what one would expect, looking back on it today:
The benefits paid out by the state-mandated health insurance system continuously exceeded contributions . . .Total contributions received by the health-insurance funds from employers and employees in 1929 was 375 percent larger than they had been in 1913. But health-insurance benefits paid out by the funds in 1929 were 406 percent larger than what was paid out in 1913. . . .And the government subsidy to the system had increased by 270 percent between 1924 and 1929.

The extension of socialized health insurance also saw an increase in what the German literature called “malingering.” . . . In 1885, a year after socialized health insurance began, the average number of sick days taken by members of the system each year was 14.1. In 1900, the annual average number of sick days per member had gone up to 17.6; in 1925, it had increased to 24.4 days; and in 1930, it was an average of 29.9 days. People also were noticeably sicker around weekends and Christmas and New Year’s Day, particularly in those occupational insurance funds that waived the four-day rule before receiving cash benefits.

Under the Nazi regime after 1933, the compulsory health insurance system became even more centralized and controlled. The insurance funds lost almost all autonomy and became subservient to the Fuhrer principle. And the employer share of health-insurance payments was increased from one-third to fifty percent. Once the Nazis were in power, explained Melchior Palyi, in Compulsory Medical Care and The Welfare State (1949):
The ill-famed Dr. Ley, boss of the Nazi labor front, did not fail to see that the social insurance system could be used for Nazi politics as a means of popular demagoguery; as a bastion of bureaucratic power; as an instrument of regimentation, and as a reservoir from which to draw jobs for political favorites and loanable funds for rearmament.
Thus ended the first experiment in socialized health insurance. Begun by Bismarck as a tool of state policy to fight radical socialism through the implementation of Imperial State Socialism, it ended up as one of the cogs in the wheel of Hitler’s National Socialism.
If the government controls your healthcare, it controls your life.  I've said this time and time again, and I do believe it. 

Ebelling finally quotes Dr. Thomas Chalmers professor of moral philosophy at St. Andrews University in Scotland, who, in the 1820s and 1830s, pointed out many of the unintended consequences that always seem to follow in the wake of dependency upon the state:
Criticizing the British poor-law system, under which the status of “pauperism” was legalized and on the basis of which individuals and families could draw their financial support from the state, Dr. Chalmers, in Problems of Poverty, saw four serious consequences.

First, he said, it reduced the incentive for people to manifest the industriousness and frugality to care for themselves and their families, since now they knew that whether they worked and saved or not, the state could be relied upon to provide them with all the minimal necessities of life.

Second, he feared, it reduced, if not eliminated, the sense of family responsibility. Knowing that the state would care for the old and the infirm, Dr. Chalmers pointed out, “There is a cruel abandonment of charity,” as people develop the attitude that since they have paid their taxes, it is now the government’s duty to do what relatives traditionally did for each other.

Third, it threatened to harden the hearts of men towards their fellows and diminish the spirit of voluntary giving to others in the community. When assistance to others in society is voluntary, there usually is aroused in us “the compassion of our nature, and inclines us to the free and willing movement of generosity.” But when charity is made compulsory by the state, Dr. Chalmers argued, there is aroused in us “the jealously of our nature, and puts us upon the attitude of surly and determined resistance.”

And, fourth, it weakened the spirit of community and assistance among those who were less well off. Dr. Chalmers noted that those who live in simple or poor conditions often show a support and sympathy for those around them who fall into even worse circumstances, and this creates a network of mutual help within those poorer portions of the wider community. But when each is made a ward of the state, the ties and connections between people in similar circumstances are weakened, with each now connected by one thread—their own individual dependency upon the state for all they need and desire.
None of this should be surprising, but somehow the Left and its adherants just cannot accept Human Nature for what it is.  They assume, like a madman, that taking the very same actions for the hundreth time will produce a different result.  Sorry, but it simply won't happen.  If the Abomination isn't overturned, we will go down the same path as every other nation that has tried socialized medicine, and that isn't a pretty journey at all.  But that's not today's message.  (For an interesting discussion on what we should learn from the European experience and mistakes, have a look at this article.) 

There is a reason we don't do things like our European friends do them.  We Americans ARE different, we ARE special.  We threw off the chains of bondage and told the King of England where to put his crown.  Sadly, there are those uncomfortable with freedom, those who are scared of it, and those who want a father-figure to take care of them, be it a king or the state.  They are a throwback, and shame our ancestors who fled the tyranny of various monarchies, whether ruled by the King, the Tsar, or the Kaiser.  Those on the Left, in their self-perceived infinite wisdom, are only too happy to provide the loving, maternal State, and maybe even a King, if not a little tin god.  Read this comment to a Washington Post article and tell me this isn't where some of us are in their hearts: 
"Being a member of the world community, I live in the house of my father with all my brothers and sisters. It is a house known as America, a place of many faults (which I try to teach my students about daily.) When my father speaks I listen. If he asks me to help my brother or my sister I do so. When our leader asks us to help by providing insurance, he does so to shelter us all and keep us well. I will do as my father asks and pay my share, and soon the richest of the rich shall pay too. If some of you white middle class don't like it, there may be chances to be re-educated in the future. And I look forward to volunteering with whatever program my leader wants to institute in that respect as well, whether they be mandatory seminars, or mass educational outings held for the "Tea Party" baggers and other capitalist offenders. It will not be long before you understand that change is coming whether the rich, privlidged few in Escalades want to accept it or not. But you WILL accept it and you WILL know that to go against your country and your brothers and sisters in this big house of ours, means to subject yourselves to the courts. The law is watching and the people will see to it that you and your children will be taught to understand what it means to be a world citizen. Abide by what He asks."
Your "father" the would-be King is taking us down the wrong path, friend.  Let's hope we all see that before it's too late.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

While we appreciate that the Doctors are all up in arms about this new healthcare disaster. Let us not forget that they are not the only one affected. At least the Doctors will still have jobs if they want one. Where the real pain is going to be felt by the hundreds of Nurses, X-ray techs, lab personel and other healthcare workers who's jobs, benefits and raises will be either cut back or lost completely.

Great idea Dems. Now who is going to take care of all these people? How do they possibly even believe for a second that care will not suffer. Do the people who voted for this bill want their family members on a nursing floor of a hospital that has a 10 patient to nurse ratio? Because that is what they just did.