Friday, March 12, 2010

The Greed Question

I find it highly curious that capitalists, free-market advocates, conservatives, and libertarians are accused of being greedy, selfish people.

The aforementioned groups, all of which I generally consider myself a member, don't expect to keep all of their income, as most of us agree that we need a basic level of government, and that requires some small, small level of taxation. We do, however, want to live in a society where we keep most of what we earn - by working every day, many people at jobs they don't even like - and thereby have enough income to pursue our dreams and be charitable to those causes/organizations that are near and dear to our hearts.

Now, on the other side of the coin we have the more "progressive" worldview and philosophy advocating the ideology that some people make too much money and therefore it is the right of other people to take some of the former's income. Oh I know, it is all done for compassionate reasons. I understand that many people think this way because of a deep-seated desire to help people.

But let us look more closely at the implications of these ideologies and see if we can determine which one is truly the more greedy, envy-based of the two.

The first philosophy posits that if a person earns his or her income, he or she should get to keep the vast majority of it. Simple.

The second philosophy posits that if a person does not earn his or her income, then he or she is entitled to take a portion of another person's income.

Somehow I find the idea of coveting another person's income and goods to the point of forcibly redistributing his or her wealth to be egregiously the more greedy and selfish position to take. Desiring another person's property is envy, and going out of your way to take it from them is greedy and selfish. Many would call this stealing. Desiring to keep the property for which you have worked, for years and years in some instances, and possibly after substantial personal risk, is not born of envy or greed. Rather, it is your basic, fundamental, human right.

The greed question can be summarized as follows:

Who is the more greedy, the person who wants a free ride, or the person who wants to pay his or her own way?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another awesome success story of government run health care

From HotAir comes the story of a man who would be dead if not for the United States and our still somewhat-free health care system.
Kent Pankow lives in Edmonton, in a province and a country that is trying to either kill him or bankrupt him.

No sense mincing words.

Suffering from brain cancer, Kent Pankow was literally forced to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for lifesaving surgery — at a cost to family and friends of $106,000 — after the health-care system in Alberta left him hanging in bureaucratic limbo for 16 crucial days, his tumour meanwhile migrating to an unreachable part of the brain, while it dithered over his case file, ultimately deciding he was not surgery worthy.

Now, with the Mayo Clinic having done what the Alberta Cancer Board wouldn’t authorize or even explain, but with the tumour unable to be totally removed, the province will now not fund the expensive drug, Avastin, that the Mayo prescribed to keep him alive and keep the remaining tumour from increasing in size — despite the costs of the drug being totally funded by the province for other forms of cancer.

Kent Pankow, as it turns out, has the right disease but he has it in the wrong place.

Had he lung cancer, breast cancer, or colon cancer, then the cost of the drug — $4,555 per treatment, two times a month — would be totally covered by Alberta’s version of OHIP.
I wonder, in regard to those "death panels" that have been so "thoroughly debunked," what do we make of the Alberta Cancer Board that gets to make decisions about whether or not Kent can even undergo the surgery to remove his tumor? I'm sure that board in Alberta is not at all similar to the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research that was created with funds buried in the porkulus bill.

No, I'm sure that the this comparative effectiveness council, once they review all of the pertinent information will make very reasonable recommendations as to which treatments are cost effective, particularly regarding elderly patients or patients with poor prognoses. And I'm sure that as the government has more and more control over our health care and is required to cut costs, as all health systems with a one-size-fits-all bureaucracy lording over every decision made must do at some point, that they will not seize upon the findings of this comparative effectiveness research council to reject or ban various treatments or drugs. No, that would never happen.

One of the biggest problems with any sort of government run health care is that because everyone is forced to pay, we all start becoming busybodies, concerned with the way other people live their lives and the status of their health. Of course, if one is paying mucho dinero into a government run system, or even just a system in which the government plays a large part via subsidies, exchanges, a public "option," or useless and inefficient mandates and regulations, then one is going to start paying attention to how everyone else behaves.

Is your neighbor eating too much fast food?! Who smokes cigarettes?! Why is your coworker's elderly aunt receiving treatment for her cancer when they've given her only a few months to live anyway?! It pits us all against each other, making us all watchdogs to ensure that our neighbors aren't using up more of the resources than "should be" allotted to them. If you look across the pond at England, the signs of this are already well underway, and it is a creepy sight to behold.

No. I would much rather live in a society that allows people the freedom to live their lives the way they see fit, eating cheeseburgers or smoking if that makes them happy, because I am not forced to be responsible for their health care.

Ed Morrissey provides some very good analysis of Kent's situation, and he comments on the argument that our current health insurance companies may make the same decisions as did the Alberta Cancer Board:
Some will say that the runaround happens in America, too, with private insurers. And they’d be right. However, people in America have the ability to move to different insurers when they get lousy service, and still get treatment in their own country. They don’t have to flee across an international border to get medical attention.
Yes, indeed.

Freedom makes a huge difference.

Just say no to the nanny state.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Taking on the "right" to health care

Walter E. Williams manages to eloquently explain exactly my thoughts on the question of whether or not health care is a right, and it is exactly the point I attempted to make at the town hall meeting with Norm Dicks.
If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something that he did earn. To argue that people have a right that imposes obligations on another is an absurd concept.

The entire article is a must read and is summed up nicely by Williams:
None of my argument is to argue against charity. Reaching into one's own pockets to assist his fellow man in need is praiseworthy and laudable. Reaching into someone else's pockets to do so is despicable and deserves condemnation.

Why not fix Medicare/Medicaid first?

Matt Patterson at the San Francisco Examiner raises a great question, and one that I wish would be addressed by the President and the Democrat leaders. It is a simple question, and a logical one at that.

Why can't we fix the current government run health care programs (i.e. Medicare) before we exacerbate the problem by adding 30 million more people to the rolls?

This is an idea upon which you would think all sides of the debate would agree. It is something that is totally reasonable and would be very good for the country. I'm dumbfounded by the steamroller known as PelosiReid, Co. and their determination to rumble past this one point that would win them a lot of political capital and support from all sides.

Please, the American people are begging you: Address the insolvency and unsustainability of the existing government run health care programs FIRST and then we'll be willing to sit down and discuss some of your other ideas. But you can't really expect us to believe anything you've said about costs and access when your other experiments are about to collapse.

PS: an interesting fun fact - Medicare rejects more insurance claims than any private insurer. Looking at Obama's track record for vilifying private insurance companies (while privately cozying up to them) he'd better get started vilifying the company over which he presides as CEO, i.e. the US Government.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Conservative Agenda for Cities

According to even the most progressive people with which I have had the pleasure of conversing, nobody wants to see people on welfare for forty years. Good. We can agree on something. Unfortunately for my friends, I happen to think that liberal policies tend to ensure those kinds of unwanted outcomes. More on this later. For now, a great article discussing the benefits of conservative ideas and policies in urban areas. Enjoy.

The Socialist Answer

Regarding the Socialist Question: I don't use the word "socialist" as an insult. I use it to label a person who espouses a particular philosophy and economic system. It's not a dirty word, and if you take it as such, then honestly, that is your issue, not mine. I'm not trying to invoke a bogeyman or scare people by using the term. It is a convenient way to refer to those that believe in socialism, social democracy, social interventionism, etc. I'm not going to list every single type of "social" philosophy and economic system (just as my political opposites do not use every conceivable term to label "conservatives" or "capitalists").

I'll refer to those systems by the trait that they share, in my view, which is that of socialism. Again, it is not an insult, it is simply a word that represents a particular economic system. If you are embarrassed by it or put off by it, I suggest you rethink your positions. Otherwise, relax. Considering that many of the people who now post here, Democrats in leadership positions, and liberal talk show hosts/guests refer to Tea Partiers as racists and teabaggers (so accusing us of hating and discriminating against people based on their race, and a term for a sexual act), I don't see how labeling someone according to the economic system that most closely matches their beliefs and statements can be so insulting.

Many people on the left (I didn't say all!) have long tried to use "conservative" or "capitalist" as dirty words, constantly trying to tie those labels to the actually reprehensible belief systems of racism, sexism, nationalism, etc., Of course, these ties are completely false and truly insulting. Therefore, I feel much of the outrage at the use of the word "socialism" is manufactured at worst and hypocritical at best. And if it really riles you that much, you may want to tell the explicitly socialist groups that show up at most liberal/progressive rallies and protests that they do not represent you if that is the case. Every progressive leaning rally that I have ever attended usually has a large contingent of people carrying signs from various groups that use the word socialism or socialist in their titles. If that does not represent you, then fine, but if it does, then don't be ashamed or insulted.

Lastly, do labels oversimplify things? Yes. However, that is sort of the nature of our language and conversation. Labeling someone as a socialist may oversimplify their belief system, but it is one of the most accurate methods of describing a certain, basic set of principles. Labeling people as socialists is not meant to paint them as uncaring people or anything like that. I know, as most of my personal friends are progressive (hello, I live in Seattle), that the majority of liberals are incredibly kind people that have different ideas about solving society's ills. However, knowing people are kind does not preclude me from fighting against their solutions while simultaneously fighting for mine.

Thus, I may disagree with socialism and all of its variations, and I may personally find the outcomes of socialistic-like policies to exacerbate the problems they are supposedly solving, but I still respect the people who believe in those types of policies. I also acknowledge that it is not a fully descriptive term, but that is what discussions are for. I ask for the same respect and acknowledgement from those that find fault with the conservative or capitalist point of view. To assert that I am not compassionate and do not care simply because I believe in different solutions to the problems in our communities is ludicrous and gets us nowhere. We would move very far down the road in talking to one another if we could at least come to the table agreeing that the other side cares about people. Then we can focus on issues and policy, and debate the various methods of moving our country forward.