Nationalizing your body 3

Getting it right and making us laugh again, here is Mark Steyn on nationalizing health care:  

Health care is a game-changer. The permanent game-changer. The pendulum will swing, and one day, despite their best efforts, the Republicans will return to power, and, in the right circumstances, the bailouts and cap-&-trade and Government Motors and much of the rest can be reversed. But the government annexation of health care will prove impossible to roll back. It alters the relationship between the citizen and the state and, once that transformation is effected, you can click your ruby slippers all you want but you’ll never get back to Kansas…

Government-directed health care is a profound assault on the concept of citizenship. It deforms national politics very quickly, and ensures that henceforth elections are always fought on the left’s terms. I find it hard to believe President Obama and his chums haven’t looked at Canada and Europe and concluded that health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture. He doesn’t say that, of course. He says his objective is to “control costs”. Which is the one thing that won’t happen. Even now, health care costs rise far faster under Medicare than in the private sector.

By the way, to accept that argument is to concede a lot of the turf: Why is the cost of my health care Barack Obama’s business? When he mused recently as to whether his dying grandmother had really needed her hip replacement, he gave the game away: Right now, if Gran’ma decides she doesn’t need the hip, that’s her business. Under a government system, it’s the state’s business – and they have to “allocate” “resources”, and frankly at your age your body’s not worth allocating to. Why give you a new hip when you’re getting up there and you’re gonna be kicking the bucket in a year or two or five or twenty?…

Please do yourself the favor of reading the whole thing here

Posted under Commentary, Economics, Health, Humor, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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Here come the health police 3

The dear leader Obama knows what is best for you, folks!

The Community Organizer that America has elected as its supreme leader is acquiring totalitarian powers to keep all Americans in the shape, physically and mentally, that he deems correct.

Terry Jeffrey writes in Townhall:

The Senate Health committee’s bill includes a section — “Creating Healthier Communities” — that authorizes paying tax dollars to so-called community-based organizations so they can monitor individual behavior patterns on the neighborhood level — and in schools — in the name of reducing “health disparities.”

They will be government-funded busybodies paid to monitor the personal behavior of a once proud and free people who surrendered an irretrievable measure of their liberty to a government-run health-care system spawned by the redistributionist vision of Barack Obama and his allies in the Congress.

Only community-based organizations that are part of a “national network of community-based organizations” will be eligible for these grants.

“In carrying out subparagraph (A),” says page 386 of the bill, “the eligible entity shall, with respect to residents in the community, measure — (i) decreases in weight; (ii) increases in proper nutrition; (iii) increases in physical activity; (iv) decreases in tobacco use prevalence; (v) other factors using community specific data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey; and (vi) other factors as determined by the Secretary.”

So, what will these government-funded, national networks of community-based organizations monitor in American neighborhoods in the interest of reducing “health disparities”?

You’ve had your share, now die 1

The Obama administration believes that if you are too old to play an active part in the community they’re organizing, you should die. To help you do this, you will be denied medical treatment under their ‘health care’ plan, which will necessarily be a rationing plan.

This from  Newsmax.com 

Discrimination against the elderly when it comes to healthcare is not discrimination — at least not to a key member of the Barack Obama administration.

Ezekiel Emanuel is director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and an architect of Obama’s healthcare reform plan. He is also the brother of Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s White House chief of staff.

Express Riders, the blog of conservative businessman and philanthropist Foster Friess, reports that Ezekiel Emanuel has written that health services should not be guaranteed to “individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens.”

He also stated, “An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia,” according to Friess’ site.

Friess also points to an equally troubling article co-authored by Emanuel, which appeared in the medical journal The Lancet in January. It read in part: “Unlike allocation [of healthcare] by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination. Every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age.

“Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years.

“Treating 65-year-olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.”

Friess asks: “Are these the values we want undergirding our healthcare system?”

Posted under Commentary, Health, News, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, July 20, 2009

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America’s Mussolini 2

One of our readers, A.G.S., sent us an idea he had for an article comparing America now to the early days of Mussolini’s Italy. The thought came to him, he wrote, when he read Mario and the Magician by Thomas Mann. He outlined the article he had in mind and asked me [JB] if I would complete it. At first I was a little skeptical; I felt he was exaggerating. But the more I thought about it, the more I found myself in agreement with him. The following is the result of our collaboration.

*** 

In his famous story Mario and the Magician, Thomas Mann demonstrates how fascism under Mussolini corrupted the Italian populace. At the start of his regime a general feeling spread among the Italians that it was right to impose conformity, and society was gripped by a mood of collective censoriousness. In the story, set in an Italian holiday resort, a child takes off her bathing suit to wash the sand out of it in the sea, and her momentary nudity arouses the wrath of the crowd on the beach, the police are informed and the child’s family is fined. The story as a whole is about the destruction of individual will during an evening’s entertainment by an evil hypnotist. The allegorical implications are unmistakeable.

As in Italy then, an atmosphere of authoritarian regulation is spreading in the US now. There is a powerful demand, emanating from the president and his circle, for mental and physical conformity.

Proofs of this intent abound. Group action and community involvement are encouraged, with the aim of inducing non-conformists to fall in line. The Department of Homeland Security issues a memo warning that persons who have a political point of view different from the present federal government majority are a threat to society. Anyone challenging the theory of anthropogenic global warming, which the Democrats in power have embraced as an orthodoxy, is denounced as a heretic. In the cause of mitigating the projected undesirable effects of climate change, the government proposes to dictate what sources of energy you may use and to what extent.  It will regulate the temperature of your house, the clothes you may wear, the food you may eat, and the car you may drive. In sickness and infirmity your body will be treated as the government decides when its nationalized health policy is imposed. Government will decree what opinions you may express on talk radio, in the universities and schools, and soon in any public forum. By ‘spreading the wealth around’ it will set a limit to how high any individual may rise by his own efforts.  Government will rule on how much business managers may be paid and under what union-dictated terms an employee may work.

When conformity is legislated and imposed by force, dissent criminalized and punished, authoritarianism has become tyranny. 

Obama is the Mussolini of America.

Live free or die 2

Here is part of a lecture given by Mark Steyn at Hillsdale College on March 9, 2009. If we had a laurel wreath to bestow we would crown Mark Steyn the greatest living journalist. 

“Live free or die!” sounds like a battle cry: We’ll win this thing or die trying, die an honorable death. But in fact it’s something far less dramatic: It’s a bald statement of the reality of our lives in the prosperous West. You can live as free men, but, if you choose not to, your society will die…

It seemed bizarre to find the progressive left making common cause with radical Islam. One half of the alliance profess to be pro-gay, pro-feminist secularists; the other half are homophobic, misogynist theocrats. Even as the cheap bus ‘n’ truck road-tour version of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, it made no sense. But in fact what they have in common overrides their superficially more obvious incompatibilities: Both the secular Big Government progressives and political Islam recoil from the concept of the citizen, of the free individual entrusted to operate within his own societal space, assume his responsibilities, and exploit his potential

In most of the developed world, the state has gradually annexed all the responsibilities of adulthood—health care, child care, care of the elderly—to the point where it’s effectively severed its citizens from humanity’s primal instincts, not least the survival instinct…

Europe’s addiction to big government, unaffordable entitlements, cradle-to-grave welfare, and a dependence on mass immigration needed to sustain it has become an existential threat to some of the oldest nation-states in the world.

And now the last holdout, the United States, is embarking on the same grim path: After the President unveiled his budget, I heard Americans complain, oh, it’s another Jimmy Carter, or LBJ’s Great Society, or the new New Deal. You should be so lucky. Those nickel-and-dime comparisons barely begin to encompass the wholesale Europeanization that’s underway. The 44th president’s multi-trillion-dollar budget, the first of many, adds more to the national debt than all the previous 43 presidents combined, from George Washington to George Dubya. The President wants Europeanized health care, Europeanized daycare, Europeanized education, and, as the Europeans have discovered, even with Europeanized tax rates you can’t make that math add up…

These programs … deform the relationship between the citizen and the state. Even if there were no financial consequences, the moral and even spiritual consequences would still be fatal. That’s the stage where Europe is.

America is just beginning this process… “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation,” said Adam Smith, and America still has a long way to go. But it’s better to jump off the train as you’re leaving the station and it’s still picking up speed than when it’s roaring down the track and you realize you’ve got a one-way ticket on the Oblivion Express…

There are stages to the enervation of free peoples. America, which held out against the trend, is now at Stage One: The benign paternalist state promises to make all those worries about mortgages, debt, and health care disappear. Every night of the week, you can switch on the TV and see one of these ersatz “town meetings” in which freeborn citizens of the republic (I use the term loosely) petition the Sovereign to make all the bad stuff go away…

If you’re a business, when government gives you 2% of your income, it has a veto on 100% of what you do. If you’re an individual, the impact is even starker. Once you have government health care, it can be used to justify almost any restraint on freedom: After all, if the state has to cure you, it surely has an interest in preventing you needing treatment in the first place. That’s the argument behind, for example, mandatory motorcycle helmets, or the creepy teams of government nutritionists currently going door to door in Britain and conducting a “health audit” of the contents of your refrigerator. They’re not yet confiscating your Twinkies; they just want to take a census of how many you have. So you do all this for the “free” health care—and in the end you may not get the “free” health care anyway. Under Britain’s National Health Service, for example, smokers in Manchester have been denied treatment for heart disease, and the obese in Suffolk are refused hip and knee replacements. Patricia Hewitt, the British Health Secretary, says that it’s appropriate to decline treatment on the basis of “lifestyle choices.” Smokers and the obese may look at their gay neighbor having unprotected sex with multiple partners, and wonder why his “lifestyle choices” get a pass while theirs don’t. But that’s the point: Tyranny is always whimsical.

And if they can’t get you on grounds of your personal health, they’ll do it on grounds of planetary health. Not so long ago in Britain it was proposed that each citizen should have a government-approved travel allowance. If you take one flight a year, you’ll pay just the standard amount of tax on the journey. But, if you travel more frequently, if you take a second or third flight, you’ll be subject to additional levies—in the interest of saving the planet for Al Gore’s polar bear documentaries and that carbon-offset palace he lives in in Tennessee.

Isn’t this the very definition of totalitarianism-lite? The Soviets restricted the movement of people through the bureaucratic apparatus of “exit visas.” The British are proposing to do it through the bureaucratic apparatus of exit taxes—indeed, the bluntest form of regressive taxation. As with the Communists, the nomenklatura—the Prince of Wales, Al Gore, Madonna—will still be able to jet about hither and yon. What’s a 20% surcharge to them? Especially as those for whom vast amounts of air travel are deemed essential—government officials, heads of NGOs, environmental activists—will no doubt be exempted from having to pay the extra amount. But the ghastly masses will have to stay home…

That’s Stage Two of societal enervation—when the state as guarantor of all your basic needs becomes increasingly comfortable with regulating your behavior. Free peoples who were once willing to give their lives for liberty can be persuaded very quickly to relinquish their liberties for a quiet life. When President Bush talked about promoting democracy in the Middle East, there was a phrase he liked to use: “Freedom is the desire of every human heart.” Really?… The story of the Western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government “security,” large numbers of people vote to dump freedom every time—the freedom to make your own decisions about health care, education, property rights, and a ton of other stuff. It’s ridiculous for grown men and women to say: I want to be able to choose from hundreds of cereals at the supermarket, thousands of movies from Netflix, millions of songs to play on my iPod—but I want the government to choose for me when it comes to my health care. A nation that demands the government take care of all the grown-up stuff is a nation turning into the world’s wrinkliest adolescent, free only to choose its record collection.

And don’t be too sure you’ll get to choose your record collection in the end. That’s Stage Three: When the populace has agreed to become wards of the state, it’s a mere difference of degree to start regulating their thoughts…

A distressing number of Western journalists see no conflict between attending lunches for World Press Freedom Day every month and agreeing to be micro-regulated by the state…

And then comes Stage Four, in which dissenting ideas and even words are labeled as “hatred.” In effect, the language itself becomes a means of control. Despite the smiley-face banalities, the tyranny becomes more naked: In Britain, a land with rampant property crime, undercover constables nevertheless find time to dine at curry restaurants on Friday nights to monitor adjoining tables lest someone in private conversation should make a racist remark. An author interviewed on BBC Radio expressed, very mildly and politely, some concerns about gay adoption and was investigated by Scotland Yard’s Community Safety Unit for Homophobic, Racist and Domestic Incidents. A Daily Telegraph columnist is arrested and detained in a jail cell over a joke in a speech. A Dutch legislator is invited to speak at the Palace of Westminster by a member of the House of Lords, but is banned by the government, arrested on arrival at Heathrow and deported.

America, Britain, and even Canada are not peripheral nations: They’re the three anglophone members of the G7. They’re three of a handful of countries that were on the right side of all the great conflicts of the last century. But individual liberty flickers dimmer in each of them. The massive expansion of government under the laughable euphemism of “stimulus” (Stage One) comes with a quid pro quo down the line (Stage Two): Once you accept you’re a child in the government nursery, why shouldn’t Nanny tell you what to do? And then—Stage Three—what to think? And—Stage Four—what you’re forbidden to think …

Which brings us to the final stage: As I said at the beginning, Big Government isn’t about the money. It’s more profound than that…

The key word here is “give.” When the state “gives” you plenty—when it takes care of your health, takes cares of your kids, takes care of your elderly parents, takes care of every primary responsibility of adulthood—it’s not surprising that the citizenry cease to function as adults: Life becomes a kind of extended adolescence…

Every Democrat running for election tells you they want to do this or that “for the children.” If America really wanted to do something “for the children,” it could try not to make the same mistake as most of the rest of the Western world and avoid bequeathing the next generation a leviathan of bloated bureaucracy and unsustainable entitlements that turns the entire nation into a giant Ponzi scheme. That’s the real “war on children” (to use another Democrat catchphrase)—and every time you bulk up the budget you make it less and less likely they’ll win it…

Small government gives you big freedoms—and big government leaves you with very little freedom. The bailout and the stimulus and the budget and the trillion-dollar deficits are not merely massive transfers from the most dynamic and productive sector to the least dynamic and productive. When governments annex a huge chunk of the economy, they also annex a huge chunk of individual liberty. You fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state into something closer to that of junkie and pusher—and you make it very difficult ever to change back. Americans face a choice: They can rediscover the animating principles of the American idea—of limited government, a self-reliant citizenry, and the opportunities to exploit your talents to the fullest—or they can join most of the rest of the Western world in terminal decline.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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Behind the smokescreen 2

 … Obama and the Democrats are steadily pursuing their sinister agenda. 

Michelle Malkin writes (see the whole article here):

I ask you now to turn away from the bogus bonus smokescreen over $165 million in taxpayer-backed compensation packages for AIG employees. It is a pittance compared to the gargantuan spending spree happening right under our noses. The AIG bonus price tag amounts to one tenth of 1 percent of the total AIG giveaway ($85 billion in September, $37.8 billion in October; $40 billion in November; $30 billion in early March), which took place with the assent of a Republican administration, a Democratic administration and the congressional leadership of both parties.

Taxpayers might be less skeptical of the born-again guardians of fiscal responsibility if these evangelists were actually practicing what they preached. While the Obama administration now issues impassioned calls to stop rewarding failure, they moved Thursday to dump another $5 billion into the failing auto industry. That’s on top of Thursday’s announcement by the Federal Reserve to print $1 trillion to buy Treasury bonds and mortgage securities sold by the government – which no one else wants to buy.

Financial blogger Barry Ritholtz tallied up $8.5 trillion in bailout costs by December 2008 between Federal Reserve, FDIC, Treasury and Federal Housing Administration rescues (not including the $5.2 trillion in Fannie and Freddie portfolios that the U.S. taxpayer is now explicitly responsible for). Then there’s the (at least) $50 billion proposed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in February to bail out home owners and lenders who made bad home loan decisions, which would be just a small sliver of the $2.5 trillion he wants to spend on the next big banking bailout, which would draw on the second $350 billion of the TARP package over which an increasing number of Chicken Little lawmakers are having buyer’s remorse.

Phew. We’re not done yet: As AIG-bashing lawmakers inveighed against wasted taxpayer funds and lamented the lack of accountability and rush to judgment that led to passage of the porkulus bill that mysteriously protected the bonuses, the Senate quietly passed a $10 billion lands bill stuffed with earmarks and immunized from amendments. GOP Sen. Tom Coburn, fiscal conservative loner, pointed out that none of the provisions for special-interest pork projects – including $3.5 million in spending for a birthday bash celebrating the city of St. Augustine, Fla. – was subject to public hearings. That’s on top of the pork-stuffed $410 billion spending bill passed two weeks ago.

Oh, and did I mention that the House passed a $6 billion volunteerism bill (the "GIVE Act") on Wednesday to provide yet another pipeline to left-wing advocacy groups under the guise of encouraging national service?

Also coming down the pike: the Obama administration’s "cap-and-trade" global warming plan, which Hill staffers learned this week could cost close to $2 trillion (nearly three times the White House’s initial estimate) and the administration’s universal health care scheme, which health policy experts reported this week could cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

It is no wonder that when earlier this week Vice President Joe Biden told local officials in Washington that he was "serious, absolutely serious" about policing wasteful spending in Washington, he was met with the only rational response his audience could muster: laughter.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, March 20, 2009

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The Cultural Revolution begins 0

 Here’s the start of The Great Leap Forward in America:

US President Barack Obama mustered his powerful campaign army on Monday, calling on his millions of supporters to lobby on behalf of his budget and economic plan.

The appeal to back the president was made in an email and video sent out by "Organizing for America," the organization which morphed out of Obama’s campaign machinery to push his agenda when he entered the White House.

In the video, Mitch Stewart, the director of Organizing for America, urged the president’s supporters to take part in the "Organizing for America Pledge Project."

"The pledge project is an ambitious effort to map out and identify support for President Obama’s economic blueprint across towns and communities in America," Stewart said.

"We’re doing that by asking people to pledge your support for the broad initiatives outlined in President Obama’s economic plan.

"Once you do, we will ask you to build support in your own communities by forwarding this pledge by email, by knocking on doors and by making phone calls," he said.

"We will show in every state, in every congressional district the hunger, for leadership and long range thinking that’s in too short supply here in Washington."

Stewart said Obama’s budget provides a "bold blueprint for our country’s future".

"It addresses three of the most pressing challenges facing our nation: health care, energy and education," he said.

"That’s the good news. The bad news is that as a result the special interests and the old habits in Washington will dig in even more.

"It’s up to you to make sure that they don’t stand in our way.

"By pledging and building support you will be taking the first steps towards establishing a nationwide grassroots network, neighborhood by neighborhood, standing side by side with President Obama as we bring about our agenda for change."

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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Obama a centrist? 0

 David Limbaugh writes:

I just wonder what some of the people now rushing to applaud Obama as a centrist will say if and when he tries to: implement nationalized health care; drastically disarm our nuclear capacity – unilaterally; sign into law card-check legislation, which would permit unions to undo secret balloting; appoint very left-wing activist judges; close Gitmo and relax our tough interrogation techniques; further open our borders to illegals; inaugurate a gargantuan "new" New Deal upward of $1 trillion in forced government spending, euphemized as a stimulus package; impose Draconian measures against our economy and liberties under the pretense of ameliorating man-made global warming; or radically alter the tax code to punish the "wealthy."

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, December 2, 2008

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