Monday, September 21, 2009

Health Care Bills Play Fast and Loose with Monetary Projections

In a rare glimpse into the actual numbers related to the health plan that President Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to push through, it is clear that talk of savings is not all it was cracked-up to be, nor were the numbers ever real. In truth, they never could be. The nature of politics is such that any proposed plan, when set in motion, will balloon, costing far more than initially projected. Any "savings" that may have been planned will be sapped in the process. The more hands that these bills pass through, the more money will be whisked away into pet agendas and personal desires. Compromise almost always creates a monster.

Bringing insurance companies into the plan - necessary for the success of the bill - ensures that tax money will go to prop them up in order to cover demand for cheap or free public options and the guise of healthy competition. In reality, Obama intends for Government to prop-up our financial, industrial, and health care sectors. This is the road we have already begun to travel down. The question is why?

The answer is that Barack Obama sees government action as the controlling force of society. Government should care for each member of society and provide adequate aid for any who are hurting, falling behind, or down on their luck. By supporting those industries that, in turn, support the economy, we should be able to end the economic downturn faster, returning people to work and bringing stability. If there is relative stability, it is reasoned, people will spend more and the economy will right itself. But what if spending more is not the right thing to do?

Spending money is not a beginning nor an end in itself. It is a means. Money is a means. Money is just an agreed-upon standard of trade in which goods and services are rendered in return for a medium which can be used to obtain other goods and services. Money itself is not a good or an evil. Money is neutral. Therefore, we must look at the intentions and beliefs that underlie the act of spending money and the end goal that is desired by spending to get at the heart of the issue.

Many people have been arrested by the idea that they may become more happy by obtaining "things." I-pods, laptops, televisions, toys, cars, boats, fancier houses, etc., are all just things. We have huge corporate conglomerates and financial sectors that are devoted to the notion that consumerism - buying things to make us happy - is the ultimate goal. I was at a meeting for a well-known "big-box" store yesterday, in which customer service was pushed over and over again. It was made obvious, however, that by 'customer service' we actually meant doing whatever it took to cajole the customer into spending more money. Consumerism; the quest for things; does not bring happiness. It brings the desire for more things. It becomes an enslaving cycle. Great for the store, not great for the consumer.

You may ask, "Isn't this just Capitalism being played out?" I would suggest it is not. I would suggest that Capitalism, properly viewed, is based on self-interest, not greed. Take two parties, a store and a customer, for example. Capitalism always starts with an emphasis on the customer (or consumer if you must). This individual wants or needs a specific product or service to make his life easier, more profitable, or more fulfilling. This is neutral (this want or need could be either ethically good or bad, morally righteous or evil, but without knowing the intentions, it must be considered neutral). It is in his best interest to find said product or service. in answer to the customer's desire, the store sets up and seeks to sell to that need. In performing this service, both the customer and the store are benefited. However, as soon as the store begins to dictate what the customer should want, or when it does ethically bad/morally evil things to attract customers, Capitalism begins to morph into something else. The emphasis has shifted to that of the store, not the customer.

This is a problem with many large retailers. Rather than attempt to find out what people need and want, they dictate what that need or want should be and attempt to force customers to buy those products. Again, great for the store, not for the customer.

How does this relate to government and the health care debate? Democracy is much like Capitalism - it is devoted to the rights and the autonomy of the individual (mirroring the customer). As long as the government exists to protect that autonomy, the relationship is good. The people ask for simple things from the government - defend us from outside enemies, help us to live autonomous lives. But when the government begins to dictate what the people should want, what they should think, and what they should believe, Democracy has morphed into something else. If government leaders look to corrupted corporate structures as models to run a country, we shall see that "a nation of the people, by the people, for the people" will be replaced by something akin to "from the government to the people". This is, of course, closer to communism than democracy.

Some will argue that it is the people who want the government to provide free health care. Really? I am not convinced that, if they were thinking rightly, they would want this at all. the costs are just far too high. There will always be some who want something for nothing, but if most people sat down and figured the cost of this move, not just in money/taxes, but in the loss of free trade and eventual individual autonomy, they would quickly decide that this is the wrong route to take.

If the government provides a free health care option, or even a free insurance option, Why would anyone pay for insurance? If free plans were limited to those who were of a set, lower income, you would find people reducing income in order to meet the demands of the free program, rather than have to pay more out of pocket for a paid plan. Paid insurance, without a substantial pool of investors, would quickly become ludicrously expensive. These paid plans could not compete. Then, without competition, the free, state-run plan could set rules as it desired. It would no longer serve the needs of the people, it would expect people to serve its needs. Further, the state-run plan is not free. Someone is paying for it. Those who are making higher incomes would be paying taxes in order to fund the program. Thus, we would find those intentionally working less (or not at all) who are receiving government assistance which is paid by hard working people. With a smaller pool of hard working and well paid workers, the program would be forced to take more and more from higher-earners. This is mediated redistribution of wealth. Capitalism, in this case, has been converted into Socialism. Not only this, but the economy would certainly suffer.

The demands of some for the redistribution of the wealth of others to themselves (while certainly in their best interest), is not at all in the best interest of the rest who also want to protect themselves and their families. The demand, then, is ethically bad (and one might make a case based on Eph 4:28; 1 Thes 5:8; 2 Thes 3:10-13, that it is morally evil). Nobody has brought this up at all, possibly because we are already used to programs like welfare. Instead, we are hung up on intra-congressional political maneuvering and faux pas.

Again, the more the government props up corporate and financial institutions, the more it fosters their dependence on it. Nationalizing these sectors in any way ensures a dictatorial and therefore tyrannical role of the government over those sectors. If those sectors determine the actions of the people, autonomy of the people is removed and the people have become slaves to the government. I believe that this is exactly what liberals seek to accomplish. It is the average guy on the street who does not understand this and is thus roped into slavery unawares. Our president and our congress are willing to say whatever it takes to gain support for their initiatives, even without strong numbers behind them. They want us to trade our freedoms for a government dole. Welcome to the new United (Communist) States of America.

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