Post-Modernism and Health Care

Dr. Edward Tingley makes the point that there is no universal idea of health in his talk: Recognizing Post-Modernism. Here’s a link to this talk at Augustine College, where Dr. Tingley preaches.

He’ll also be speaking at our conference this July.

This point is important. Can you have a free people if the government is determining what health is for every member of the society. First, why would we count on the government to define health correctly? After all, many people in our country believe that health requires a walk with God. Others believe it requires lots of sexual activity.

Our government would not be indifferent to these questions if it created a health care system based on their definition of health. They would either accept, modify, or reject the ideas. But why should they say anything at all about them?

So that more people can have health care, is the postmodern answer. And once again we choose to survive rather than to be free.

Need I say that when you choose health over freedom you deserve neither and will lose both.

Next, why would we count on the government to make sound decisions about the movement of money and our health. We can’t trust the huge insurance companies, and they at least have a profit motive. What motive does an unaccountable agency have to care for people.

Only neighbors love.

Will you be in Dallas to think with us about how to educate a free people?

Freedom, Mandates, and Financial Solvency (with an implied comment on the power of naming)

Rep Paul Ryan wrote a rather tepid response to the health funding and decision making  plan that President Obama passed into law yesterday. It was published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Of all the parties in the discussion, Rep Ryan has presented the most clear alternative, so he’ll be interesting to watch over the next few years. If he has charisma, the Republicans might be wise to lean on him.

However, I was most struck by two comments by readers. I have no idea whether these views are widely held, but you need to look at them closely. At least some people support the new law for the reasons described below.

Way to many procedures being done for no reason. I agree people should be mandated to live a health life style. How many times do you see overweight people with handicap parking and driving those electric shopping carts. Who is giving out these permits, doctors. Instead they should be telling these people to exercise and lose weight and some of there disabilities will actually improve.

comment in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

But costs are not Ryan’s main beef. He is an idealogue. He wants small government, commerce, low taxes and individual freedom, financial solvency be damned.

another comment

Way back when women were not allowed to vote, some of the opposition was the male chauvenistic argument that women love to meddle and that if they are allowed to vote, we will have a state that meddles in all our affairs. I always thought that was pretty funny. It would be so nice to think that one sex has this vice more than the other. Oh well.

Meddling is a sin, but since we don’t have any room for religion in public life it is not worth pointing that out here. More to the point is this simple fact: with a federal health funding and decision making plan in place, there is nothing that people do with their time that does not affect our federal budget. The state now has an interest in absolutely everything you do.

I think it was my brother Nate that made this point about motorcycle helmets. If an insurance company insures a driver of motor cycles, they have, it seems to me, the right to tell them to wear a helmet or at least to charge a lot more in premiums for those who don’t agree to wear the helmet. After all, they will have to pay a lot more money to reconstruct shattered skulls than bruised ones.

Since the motorcycle rider has made a voluntary association with the insurance company in order to defray potential emergency expenses, he can walk away from that arrangement if he disagrees with the terms. Everything is private and voluntary.

Now we bring in the federal government. It carries, or at least will eventually carry, the final burden for every medical expense in this country. For now we can set aside the favors and bribes that will become a routine element of federal health funding and decision making. Let’s just accept the fact that we are all now paying for every stupid thing that anybody ever does.

In a world where symbols dominate the discourse, we have handed the federal government the right to eliminate anything they can persuade the people they should not like. Today it might be motorcycle helmets. Tomorrow it might be babies with missing chromosomes. On Friday it might, through an unimaginable social revolution, be people with STD’s. On Saturday it might be a mental disease.

The lady who wants doctors to be mandated to tell obese patients to lose weight needs to understand that when the power she has voted to Leviathon wants to eliminate some problem she carries, it won’t sit when she tells it to. This is not a Night at the Museum.

That is why I would urge you to reread that second quotation. Do you notice what he thinks of freedom? It is an ideology. Financial solvency is his priority.

Ideologists have a habit of projecting onto their opponents their own vices, in particular, ideology. They also have a tendency to create false dichotomies. The great lesson of history, vis economics, is certainly this: individual freedom has always been the only predictable path to financial solvency.

We are living out the Law of the Catastrophic Continuum. The next steps are not hard to predict, though their timing is. Being frightened infidels, afraid of reality, unwilling to accept the certainty of death and the risks of life, we are building a tower to heaven. It will end in haos and catastrophe, but not until we’ve convinced ourselves we can touch the sky.

But at least we know it won’t end with a flood.

Treating Cancer With Sugar, Or Mortification Without Representation

I have been avoiding commenting too much on the so-called health care plan for two reasons: first, I don’t want this blog to be seen as political, and second, I haven’t felt confident that I know well enough what is involved in the law. Besides, I have no doubt that what follows is a paranoid overreaction.

I was emoldened to write when I read President Obama acknowledging that he doesn’t know what is in it either.

I fear that there can be no good outcome from today’s vote to pass health care. If the health care plan continues and is passed, our nation will be fundamentally altered.

  1. It represents the establishment of federal bureaucracies that will oversee how health insurance is paid for.
  2. It has removed decision making power still further from the people who have the knowledge and the interest to make sound decisions. If you have read any of my political ravings on this blog earlier, you know that this is my bugaboo, my hobby-horse, even my hobgoblin. Our country has utterly and completely lost its way by seeking abstract solutions to concrete, particular, personal problems. Where does this law direct the energy of the decision makers? To whom does it give the power to make decisions? If these questions are not answered soundly, then nearly all of us will suffer because we will find our own energies misdirected and our own decisions made something like anemic and mostly irrelevent.
  3. It puts still more power in the hands of people who have no direct interest in the well-being of the people affected by their decisions.
  4. It compels decision makers to make their decisions on ever increasingly irrelevent information to the specific decision being made. As a result we are entering even further into this dark cave we have been lost in, one in which unelected authorities make executive decisions that affect the well-being of thousands who are not even represented in the decision. Because we elected our congress, we have lost the right to complain about this point. We cannot speak of mortification without representation. And yet, there is no doubt in my mind that our congress has betrayed us into the hands of those before whom we will have no representation. We have freely chosen to become a slave state.
  5. Nobody knows what is in the law. How can we hand something that so fundamentally affects everything we do, from eating, to playing, to reading, to thinking, without demanding to know what is involved? Do congress and the President believe that we owe our government that level of trust? What will the Democrats and democrats do when another party or vision takes authority over this Leviathon and directs it in ways they don’t like? What will any of us do when Leviathon breaks its chains? You cannot give power to a government and take it back again.
  6. This law represents only the planting of a seed. Here is what you will hear over the coming months, especially leading to the elections:
    1. Raving by the Progressives about how disappointing this law was. They will genuinely and sincerely wonder how classical liberals could be so upset by such an anoemic law.
    2. Celebration of the practical benefits to be derived from this law.
    3. Glorification of the “president-who-could,” and because he could, he did.
    4. Extreme disappointment at how little this law does.
  7. And here is what you will see over the next decade:
    1. Removal of the cute little joke called an executive order (as permanent as water on the road) that prevents the plan from paying for abortions
    2. Preceded by clever workarounds and moving money from one part of the budget to another by abortion providers (I’ve often wondered how people can take this sort of thing seriously)
    3. Extreme growth of interest groups pressuring congress and the White House to send benefits from the plan their way.
    4. Gradual establishment of more agencies and regulations, some to prevent the massive abuse the system invites and even begs for, and most as favors and payments. When the Republicans make those payments and curry those favors, they will simply serve as the sort of parasite this dog hosts.
    5. Fantastically subtle and less subtle controls over everything we do, because remember, now the federal government has a formal interest in everything that affects the cost of health care. Can you think of anything that doesn’t?
    6. Loss of moral energy and innovation in the American entrpreneur. Already people who want to build a business are crippled by the regulations. Nobody can see what isn’t there; nobody can measure what doesn’t happen. Therefore, the lethargy and discouragement of American business will never be recognized by the government or the “mainstream media.” But we will all live under its weight.
    7. Unimaginable government corruption, some of which we might even hear about.
    8. Kafkaesque arbitrariness.

It cannot be undone. The Republicans will probably win many seats in the congress this fall, but that won’t matter for three reasons.

  1. The Republicans have proven beyond any doubt that it is for those seats that they pretend to support defined, constitutional government
  2. Once the plan is in place, it will root into too many parts of the national life. Nobody will be able to figure out how to remove it.
  3. It might well lead to riots.

After a century of failed central planning I can hardly believe what we have freely chosen to do as a people. A part of me feels like a great light has gone out in the world.

It hasn’t.

I know that.

Nevertheless, here is the single, decisive, fundamental reality: A seed of death was planted today. No matter how well-intentioned this law, it has put in the hands of unelected, unrepresentative powers, powers that are uninterested in, because unaffected by, the well-being of those who are affected by their decisions, powers that cannot know what is needed in given situations and will make decisions based, at first, on strict economics, and next, on what is best for them, and third, on political favors and debts (which, after all, is what this law is made up of), it has put into the hands of those powers a degree of authority that borders on madness.

This law may well perfectly encapsulate the values and philosophy of the American people. It is practical. It is efficient. It centralizes. It makes some people feel really, really good. It is based on political gamesmanship. It makes us feel secure while taking away our freedoms – in this case, the most fundamental freedoms a human being can have. It is rooted in fear. It is an illusion.

After eight years of the betrayal of all things conservative through George Bush’s novitiate, I conclude that no power exists in the United States of America that is able to restore our freedoms. After all, we elected, freely, our masters.

From Teddy and Woodrow, to FDR, to LBJ, to Bush Major and Lesser, and now to the current congress and President, we have consistently demonstrated that FDR was right: “We have [had] nothing to fear but fear itself,” and it has owned us for over a century.

Freedom frightens us. We seek a paternal state to take care of us. We don’t trust our neighbors. We have not accepted that we are all going to die, and many of us are going to die because of stupid things we or somebody else does. Now we have made sure even more of those stupid things will happen. Only these will take place where we are less likely to see them.

The other day I was helping a young friend work on his senior thesis. His issue is the eternally fundamental question of whether the colonies should have rebelled against Great Britain. He had a fairly reflective position, which was encouraging, but when the discussion of taxation without representation arose, he didn’t seem eager to show it much respect.

After all, the British were taxing us for a war they fought on our behalf, and even more shockingly, they hardly taxed us at all. We are taxed far more than they ever were.

Yes, I explained, but the issue is not taxation. It is taxation without representation. If a government that we never elected determined to tax us would we be willing to pay that tax? Well, based on post World War II actions, the answer is an obvious yes.

When the parliament taxed without giving the colonies a voice in the discussion, they showed that they would tax without listening to the colonists. When they sent troops over and demanded that the colonists quarter them at their own expense, they showed that they regarded their subjects as mere objects – slaves.

The colonists did the most impractical thing imaginable. They said no. And they paid for it with their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Unlike us, however, they had their children in mind. And also unlike us, the freedom of an English citizen was something they were not willing to give up, not even for health care, not even for life itself.

So very many of them died. Over a stamp tax.

No, over self-respect and love for freedom.

The American idea bore the cancer of slavery at its birth. Its attempt at radical surgery helped, but left traces through the whole system. The 20th century revealed a compulsion to ingest everything that spread the disease, usually under the delusions of well-meaning prescriptions. Denying the disease, we redefined the cure into the disease itself. 

The dream simply cannot cure itself of that cancer. It is not dead yet, but I’m not convinced the prognosis has any hope left. You can’t cure cancer with a massive infusion of sugar.

I congratulate you, Ms. Pelosi. You have fulfilled your wish and will be in the history books. Look around: I hope you like the company.

Could a Politician have been less than up front? No…

This, it would seem to me, is important. It might underscore the depth of Obama’s hypocricy, or it might simply show that the health care plan we were offered was 1. a disaster, and 2. not what Obama said it was. I can’t see how it can be seen favorably unless the writer is simply wrenching the statement from its context.

Follow this link: Obama’s Stunning Admission 

And let your mind dwell for a few minutes on the implications. I think they are quite profound.

Scholastic Welfare: Meet Medical Welfare

If you wonder what the new health care system will look like, the public schools would be a good object for study.

You can find private schools and some of them strive to be affordable. But if you want a real education, you had better be able to fork out the tuition ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 per year. The presence of the Public system alters the private schools in many ways, especially through the process of assessment and regulation.

What will be similar? What will be different?

I don’t look forward to finding out.

When the two join forces (and why wouldn’t they – the calls for efficiency will demand it), will our intelligence and our health follow the path of our souls.

Cato reviews health care

You can’t get a detailed discussion through the media, but if you are taking this health care debate seriously (and God help America if you aren’t), this ABC news bit does a nice job of framing some of the key points. I found 2:35-3:16 particularly important.

As one who is gravely concerned about both the present state of health care and the direction the Obama administration seems to be taking us, I welcome any discussion on this matter. I know this is an education blog, but one goal of education is to produce good citizens.

What is a totalitarian state?

In general I don’t like to comment on political developments because there is so much smoke and so much heat generated by so much media that it is counterproductive to add to it and because it is too hard to figure out what is actually going on.

Politics is political so almost everything everybody says or writes is already invested with the party spirit. It continually astonishes me to see a policy torn to shreds by the party in opposition than embraced when they take power.

This is perfectly normal and shouldn’t really be all that disturbing except for one thing. There are no limits to what our government can meddle with.

Go back to ancient Rome for a moment and think about it when it was in its dotage, in its decline, immersed in chaos. I’m thinking of that calamitous third century inaugurated by the death of Marcus Aurelius and the ascencion of that loony bin Commodus.

My favorite emperor during this era was Didius Julianus. Hollywood really ought to make a movie about this guy.

When Pertinax (I think) was overthrown or died or something, the Praetorian Guard decided they would auction off the imperial throne to the highest bidder. Idiot Juluianus, not having paid attention to what happens to the emperors, or else just wanting to be sure his name would be remembered forever (after all, who remembers who Andrew Jackson beat in the election or who took second place to Mark Spitz?), outbid everybody.

For a few months he sat in his palace eating French chocolates and North African snails while the empire melted down around him.

Then the army came in and dragged his body along the streets, disgracing and torturing the poor fool to ensure that he wouldn’t be so grasping in the future.

Meanwhile, out in the provinces, the municipalities of the empire continued to function more or less as well as ever. It wasn’t until around the reign of Theodosius in the late 4th century that the municipalities started to go bankrupt.

In other words, even when the Imperial throne was out of control, even when the senate was replaced every few generations by genocides, the administration of the empire continued to function.

And the reason it did was because every local community had leadership involved in the detailed of local administration. They simply didn’t have the technology to centralize control of everything the way we do.

Therefore, the potential for a totalitarian government did not exist for them the way it does for us. To clarify, a totalitarian government is not the same as a dictatorship, though I don’t know how the former doesn’t lead to the latter and I don’t know why a dictator would not seek totalitarian control.

Totalitarian means that every area of life comes under the control of the government.

This most obviously occurs when the state regulates religion, especially under the guise of separation of church and state. The more expansive the state is, the more restricted the church is under this philosophy. Very clever.

Over the last 100 years we have both seen countries succumb to totalitarian governments, the USSR most spectularly, and we have seen our own country move more and more in the direction of the totalitarian state.

And here’s my concern. The health care debate, such as it is, has revealed a degree of fog and confusion and imperviousness that makes intelligent discussion impossible.

I would love to imagine that one side or the other is keeping their discussions clean, but neither is. Besides, the notion that there are two sides to this discussion is ludicrous.

So what are we to do when public discussions become so clouded with misinformation and chaos that nobody can find out the truth?

Down-size. If we continue in this state, it is impossible by the nature of political life that we will not find our government vastly expanded, which means regulating and controlling more and more of our daily lives.

The municipalities have handed their powers to the states and the states to the federal governments. The family is broken.

I can foresee no future in America that is not dominated by an increasingly totalitarian government. Nor do I believe we can recover our former prosperity.

That’s why I don’t like to comment too much on political developments. But I’m thinking about this in relation to the nature of things, so I’ll have a few entries over the next few weeks.

But first, the apprenticeship begins on Monday and our schedule and our seats are filled, so things will be very busy. Maybe I’ll sneak a post or two in while it’s happening.

Tom Price on Health Care

I need to hear more details, but this seems like an important response to the health care plan. The thing we can’t forget is that once this program is put in place, it can’t be undone. The people who support this plan know that.

This has almost nothing to do with improving our health and almost everything to do with one of the most extreme power grabs in our history. Never has the failure of the Republicans to be republican been more harmful to us.

And understand this: once health care is in place, there will be no such thing as conservative government in America. All the parties will do from that point on is argue about the details of implementation. You can’t undo this once it is done. But it will undo us.

The scale is inappropriate to the task.

Nature and Health Care

The great eneny of nature is utility. Power finds the restrictions nature places on it obnoxious and irritating. Marketers play on this frustration when they present products with “no limits” and other meaningful language. But nature won’t give in. It always wins.

That realization enables one to anticipate developments in health care.

Whether we switch to a gigantic bureaucratic nationalized health plan or we continue to be controlled by the gigantic bureaucratic corporations (who would provide the employees of the nationalized health care plan), we should realize by now that health care is run, not by respect for human nature (i.e. the patient) but by utility.

In time, if not yet, that creates this simple application: Utilitarian health care: efficiency demands letting people who are old die sooner.

However, nature demands reverence, altogether apart from “usefulness” or cost effectiveness. And reverence is particular, not abstract, immersed in context, relationship, love. It constantly screws up the actuarial tables. That is why Burke famously and importantly said:

The age of chivalry is gone. That of calculators, sophistors, oeconomists has come.

So where does that leave us? In a bind that arose when we handed health care to the utilitarians in the first place. Follow this out.

If we don’t revere our elders, what will happen to us? Are dying parents a nuisance or part of what makes us grow up into adulthood ourselves? That would seem pretty useful. Just not utilitarian.

What cures will we never discover because the government directs the health care resources toward their arbitrary and ever changing values, which are always rooted in power politics, not nature? (This alone explains why we need to limit and define the powers offered to our government.)

If people who were invested in the ethics of health care read this blog, I would urge them to debate what nature has to say about health care priorities. But I wonder if the categories would mean anything.

How dead is England?

So far as I can tell, this article is entirely serious. The use of the acronym NICE is somewhere between hilarious and terrifying. The story of Leslie Burke is what made the article worth posting.

I am opposed to health care as it is presently structured for one basic reason: it puts too much power in the hands of people who bear no responsibility for what they do with it (except financial). I am opposed to solving that problem by putting even more hands in even less responsible people’s hands. This long miserable life the baby boomers have experienced is destined, in my opinion, to be a one or two generation phenomenon. Apres moi, le deluge.