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The Expansionist
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
 
The Worst of All Possible Worlds. The Baucus bill now being reviewed by the United States Senate is like a comedy, a satire of healthcare reform: write the worst possible bill and threaten to impose it upon an unwilling country, then see what hilarity ensues. But there is nothing funny about it. It is authoritarian, and would destroy scores of millions of Americans financially, producing enormous hardship even on people who, by scrimping and sacrificing on vacations, entertainment, eating out, clothing, or toys for the kids might be able to survive. Mass bankruptcy and mass foreclosure would inescapably ensue, because for millions of people, scrimping won't cover the hundreds of dollars a month Max Baucus and Barack Obama insist they pay. The infliction of a new tax on people who are just barely making ends meet would mean that millions could no longer afford to pay the mortgage, because hundreds of dollars a month would be redirected to health insurance that they can presently avoid paying for, because they don't need it and don't want it.
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Businesses of many types would be ruined as people cut back on all nonessentials, producing higher unemployment even than we have now, and the present "jobless recovery" would become a more or less permanent recession. Money that now goes to useful things and sustains myriad businesses all across the country would be directed to uselessness, health insurance that people do not need and do not want. To pay for something they don't need or want, they will have to stop spending on things they do need and want. Restaurants will close. Vacation resorts will suffer massive downturns. Airlines and car-rental companies will be squeezed. People may even lose Internet access because they can't afford it. What will that do to kids who can't do online research, and to national inventiveness? When people are forced to save not a few dollars but HUNDREDS of dollars a month, when they can barely pay their present expenses but may even be falling further into debt every month, there's no fat to cut. They can pay their credit-card bills or face THOUSANDS of dollars in late fees, overlimit fees, and usurious interest (at 30% and more) on those fees as well as the underlying debt. OR they can pay the rent or mortgage. Millions will not be able to do both. And credit-card fees and interest will force millions into bankruptcy or even into homelessness. Just so they can pay for healthcare. They'll need healthcare then, once they have no roof over their heads. But it's hard to keep a job when you're homeless and can't shower, or power a clock-radio. If they lose their jobs, they won't be able even to pay for healthcare! What madness has seized Congress? The Max Tax is a Mad Tax, and must be stopped.
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The Baucus bill would make the U.S. Treasury and every private employer in the Nation into bill collectors for the insurance industry. Anyone who sought to evade this dictatorial "individual mandate" by seeking payment "off the books" or as a "private contractor" would be subject to prosecution for tax evasion, civil penalties, seizure of assets, even IMPRISONMENT! Of course, once in prison, they would have FREE healthcare. Does that make sense to anyone?
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This is Obama's idea of fairness in healthcare, for he has endorsed the Baucus bill. Obama must be insane. Perhaps he should be declared mentally incapacitated, and Vice President Biden elevated to the Presidency until Obama can be made sane again. If that's possible.
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Liberals are forced to agree with Conservatives who say that this is an astonishing assault on liberty. Nothing since the military draft was abolished comes anywhere near the totalitarian attack on basic freedoms that this proposed "individual mandate" would constitute. It must be fought with every resource by every part of the political spectrum. Government does NOT have the right to tell people they have to buy ANYTHING from ANY private company for ANY product or service, and does NOT have the right to steal money out of their paychecks to give it to ANY corporation, for any purpose whatsoever. This is "eminent domain" gone mad, in which EVERYONE is subject to having his property (income) stolen by Government and given to someone else.
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If, by some miracle of Governmental highhandedness, this measure becomes law, the people must take up arms and KILL everyone responsible for it, so that their replacements in Congress and the White House can repeal it. Otherwise we should officially remove all references to "liberty" and "rights" from all American political documents, from the Declaration of Independence ("We hold these Truths this Truth to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness..); Preamble to the Constitution ("and promote the general Welfare", and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity), Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights (; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.); etc.
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Thomas Jefferson (or whoever; the origin of the universally known truism is not agreed) wasn't just a-woofin' when he said "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." Americans need to be reminded, endlessly, of their Revolutionary origins.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." -- Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777
Even on the other side of the Revolution, within Britain, wise men spoke of liberty, and the need always to guard it. One such man was saddened by the impending separation of our theretofore-linked peoples, and opposed the tyrannical behavior of the British monarch and his subservient Parliament in seeking to destroy traditional English rights in America. He was unable to stop the Revolutionary War, but he tried. Other good men, on our side of the Atlantic, made what he saw as the obvious choice between loyalty (to the Empire), which would have required a loss of traditional rights, as against defending their rights even if it meant leaving the Empire. The resulting war was fought on our own soil, and was filled with outrages on both sides. But that it should have and had to have been fought is very clear. It is impossible to imagine the modern world had an earlier generation (the true "Greatest Generation") not fought for their rights against an oppressive government.
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We are lucky, in that we have the means, especially in this electronic age, to head off the need for violent rebellion, by inundating the Senate and House in indignant calls for the total defeat of the "individual mandate" and Senator Baucus's insane "Max Tax". But we should not delude ourselves that Congress and the President have no dictatorial aspirations that we must be willing to fite against, to (their) death. At present, the Federal Government doubtless believes that emails, letters of complaint, and maybe a few noisy demonstrations by a tiny minority will be the entire extent of public opposition to tyranny in the name of "fairness", first in the matter of healthcare, then in any and every matter the Government may choose. Congress and the President don't believe for an instant that modern-day Americans will shoot their oppressors. They must be made to believe that we will.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -- Edmund Burke
The Max Tax and "individual mandate" must go. What should the Federal Government do if it's not going to give us what we want, a single-payer program like Canada's? A few things could be widely accepted and do some good:
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(1) Forbid denial of insurance at reasonable rates (to be determined as in (2), below) to people on account of pre-existing conditions.
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(2) Create a regulatory overseer to decide what is and is not a reasonable rate for a person who would have been denied health-insurance under the standards prior to passage of a mandate to cover anyone who applies; veto unwarranted increases in costs to consumers by health-insurance companies (deductibles, co-pays, premium increases); reverse denials of claims where medical good practice so requires; in short, do everything as regards oversite of the health-insurance industry that government regulators do with every other regulated industry, from banking to electric and gas utilities.
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(3) Provide that pre-existing coverage in one employer's plan will qualify a person who changes jobs to take up full coverage under the new employer's plan as tho s/he had been employed by that later employer during all the time s/he was covered by an earlier employer. (3a) Provide as well that people who leave a job due to layoff would continue to receive health-insurance benefits from that plan for some reasonable period, say, two years, at no more than 110% of the cost s/he bore under that plan. This would be a cost of doing business to the insurance company, and regulators would NOT allow the insurer to raise the former employer's rates for expenses that result from layoffs. Employers lay people off to save money because they are in financial distress. Health insurers must not be allowed to destroy distressed companies and produce greater unemployment.
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(4) Create a governmental fund to provide for expenses incurred by hospitals for people who cannot afford or refuse to take health insurance, comparable to the uninsured-drivers funds in the various states for costs of automobile accidents. This would NOT provide private health insurance that would be paid month after month, whether a person uses any medical services or not. That's not cost-effective. Such a fund would be drawn against only by hospitals for emergency services or "charity care" given to people who do not go to a private doctor but encounter an acute problem. Its purpose would be twofold: to keep hospitals from experiencing serious financial strain in providing services to the uninsured; and to keep people from dying or becoming seriously disabled — each of which entails costs to society — because of an unexpected emergency or even an anticipated medical problem they were too poor to pay for out-of-pocket or even too poor simply to pay health-insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.
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There are tens of millions of healthy people (young and not-so-young) who do not need and do not use health-insurance. For-profit health-insurance companies love these people, because the premiums they get from them are free money. They don't have to pay out a cent for them, month after month, year after year. What do these people get for the tens of thousands of dollars they pay over to health-insurance companies? Nothing. Maybe some peace of mind, but that is NOTHING for people who don't worry about a health emergency, and healthy people do not worry about such a thing, so end up getting NOTHING for the thousands of dollars they spend each year and over a hundred thousand dollars over the course of their lives for health insurance they do not use. What do you call it when employers or individuals are compelled to pay something for nothing? Ah, yes: that's called a "scam" or "stealing". For healthy people, health insurance is a con(fidence) racket. It gives people confidence that if ever they need health-insurance, it will be there for them. Little do they know that it might not be.
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That is the worst tragedy in this whole process, the fact that people who might be victimized by health insurers are defending the very health insurers who literally would prefer they die than that the company has to pay out anything to keep them alive. People have been sold a bill of goods, at a very high price, and are so sure (confident) that they won't have a problem with health that their insurance doesn't cover, that they disregard all the dangers and all the ways they can lose coverage: layoff; firing; quitting; being found to have omitted some tiny detail in their health-history declarations that the insurer uses to retroactively cancel the insurance (but does not refund the premiums, of course); getting "too sick", so they exceed an arbitrary payout limit; requiring a procedure that the insurer, without any governmental regulator to review or reverse a decision wholly in the insurer's hands, decides is "experimental" or otherwise not covered; and on and on. By the time they discover that the guarantees of coverage they thought they had, have vanished, it's too late. They will already have opposed reform of the system, and it will have failed. They will have no recourse. If they have any resources of their own, they will be drained by a serious accident or illness, and they may go bankrupt and lose their house trying to pay for hospital and doctor bills. There will be no governmental program to rescue them. This will happen millions of times, because health-insurers and their servants in the Radical Right are powerful and well organized, but the Liberal-Left is weak, disorganized, and disunited. So we seem likely to end up with a bill that not only does not do what we want it to do, but actually does HORRENDOUS things we DON'T want it to do. Because that's the way American democracy "works".
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,346 — for Israel.)



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