by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer
Conservatives frequently advocate for the privatization of government services and, while that’s a good idea, it’s not enough. Even the smallest involvement by the government can poison the best privatized system. My own experience may shed some light on this.
About a year ago, I went to a hospital emergency room, doubled over with abdominal pain. I was admitted to a ward upstairs, and kept for three days while tests were run. I was diagnosed with an infection, and a couple of other medical problems that were discovered incidentally. After treatment, I was eager to get back home, and finally was released from the hospital.
After a small co-pay, I was happy to see that I would not have to pay any part of the multi-thousand-dollar hospital bill. My insurer is Tri-Care, a government funded program for military personnel, including retired veterans such as myself.
A year later, I received a notice from Tri-Care, which stated that the hospital cannot bill me personally for the care I received, but that Tri-Care will not fully pay the hospital either. Technical reasons were given, but from what I understood, someone at Tri-Care had ruled that not all of the treatments provided by the hospital were medically necessary – at least not in an in-patient facility. I’m not sure what percentage of the bill the hospital was paid, since the insurers explanation was long and complicated.
Since I am neither a medic nor a lawyer, I cannot take sides in the dispute between the government and the hospital. On the one hand, I am reminded of the criticism that the government cannot reduce the costs of medical care, but it can refuse to pay those costs. On the other hand, I am reminded that when hospitals expect the government to pay the bill, they have an incentive to provide unneeded services, so as to maximize their profit.
I do not think the hospital did that, but in borderline cases, the temptation can certainly be there. With legal litigation always a possibility, the incentive is to order more tests, not fewer.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, the hospital gave me excellent treatment. On the other hand, I’m glad that someone in the government is guarding taxpayer dollars. On the third hand, if you have one, the hospital will probably be forced to give future patients less thorough care than they gave me, or go out of business.
The recent scandal at the Veterans Administration (VA) clearly shows that a one hundred percent government run healthcare system is guaranteed to reduce care, increase costs, create the environment for criminal fraud, and get innocent people killed in the process. And no, I do not need yet another inspector general report to draw that conclusion.
What about the other extreme? What if the government paid none of the costs of medical care? Well, we all know how horrible that would be. The steps leading up to the hospital door would be littered with the corpses of people who had sought care, but could not pay for it. Cold-blooded administrators would form “death panels,” and only the wealthy would survive such a system. We all know that, don’t we?
Of course not, but first let’s look at our middle-of-the-road solution, one in which the government and the private sector have formed a so-called partnership.
This partnership began in World War II, when the factories of war employed millions of Americans. In order to keep down the material cost of war equipment, it was against the law to give pay raises to workers. Corporations wanted to do something to make their employees more happy, and so they “gamed the system,” although much more mercifully than the VA administrators gamed their system. The corporations got around the “no-pay-raise” law by offering free health insurance to their workers. While this seems to have been a good thing, it was actually the poison pill that helped get us into the health-care mess we are in today.
Prior to the war, when Rosie the secretary got sick, she went to the doctor with her meager paycheck in hand. The doctor tailored his health-care strategy for Rosie to fit her budget.Rosie had every incentive to scrutinize her medical bill, and keep the cost low. The doctor also was motivated to provide the best care within Rosie’s means. It was far from a perfect system, but in general, it worked well enough for most people.
Once Rosie became the Riveter, and had health insurance, things changed. If the doctor ordered an extra test or two, “just in case,” Rosie did not have to pay for those tests herself. The insurance company paid. Costs, predictably, began to rise.
While this system seemed at first to be a free market at work, it was not. The health insurance benefit at work was provided to circumvent a law, a government regulation. Rosie could not, because the government forbade it, tell her employer, “Just pay me more, and I will find a cheaper, better health plan for myself.” No, Rosie had to accept the group plan, or get nothing. The government involvement was small at first, but the snowball had begun rolling.
The key to it all was that, even with minimal government interference, incentives had become skewed toward higher costs. Other medical decisions had already been taken out of the hands of the patient and the doctor, and placed under control of insurance companies and government bureaucrats.
Today, there is no more free market in the health care system. Every nook and cranny of it is either directly or indirectly affected by government regulations, regulations not designed to benefit the patient or the doctor, but to benefit the regulators and the politicians.
Even the VA scandal is not being addressed to benefit the patients. If it were, then the problem would be solved today, not waiting for yet another—another—inspector general report. The scandal has been well known for decades, and nothing was done about it, not until it became politically expedient. What is being done, however, is not going to fix the system, but will only provide cover to the politicians.
The VA scandal is a harbinger of catastrophe yet to come. Once a complex system has become poisoned, the poison will continue to work its ravages until either death or a cure results.
The cure is not to issue “vouchers” to patients. To be sure, that has now become the deal with the devil that cannot be avoided, but the cure is to get the government completely out of the health-care industry. Completely. Issuing vouchers will simply require the taxpayer to fund health care for deserving veterans. It will require government oversight. It will put private hospitals in the no-man’s-land between ordering too many tests, and therefore having payment refused by the government, or on the other hand, ordering too few tests and getting sued for malpractice.
In the short run, there is no way out of this. In the longer term, there is a solution.
Many will object to the only solution, sometimes on specious grounds, but sometimes quite sensibly. Even so, it’s the only way out.
People will object, for example, out of concern for the grievously wounded war veteran who faces a lifetime of very high medical bills. The government medical system has already been shown to fail these men and women in too many cases. Fortunately, American citizens have stepped forward, volunteering their time and money to pay for the gaps in care that the government refuses to pay. There is the Wounded Warrior Project, for example.
Fox News host, Bill OReilly, for another example, organized Americans to raise money for a motorized wheelchair called the track chair, designed to enable patients missing some or all of their limbs to get about, even in outdoor terrain. Why doesn’t the government pay for these chairs? They seem to have money for health care for illegal aliens and terrorists – why not for our wounded warriors? It’s just another example in which the government provides funds, but only to what helps politicians.
On the other hand, if the government does get involved, matters will be made worse, not better.
The health-care system has become so complex that instead of seeking a perfect solution, we must seek the least bad one. The government is so thoroughly corrupt that it will never promote a real solution.
The goal, whatever happens before we reach that goal, must be to get government completely and totally out of health care, and while we are at it, out of the schools, out of mail delivery, and out of every conceivable area where the Constitution does not explicitly require it.
That will be a bitter pill to swallow, but not a poison one.
©Copyright 1981 by Kelly Strong
Reprinted with Permission
by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer
“If it seems as though some scenes of CNN’s documentary series Chicagoland were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall and the show’s producers, that’s because they were,” said the Chicago Tribune (emphasis added by me). We must praise the Tribune for its courage in printing this politically-incorrect truth. Would that all major news outlets show half that much character. CNN certainly does not. The Tribune’s commentary referred to yet another (yawn) demonstration of how American journalism has descended into a mire of propagandism that would make Pravda (the Soviet newspaper) jealous. The CNN production billed itself, one may infer, as an impartial documentary, seeking only the truth, no matter where the evidence would lead. As we say in the era of Twitter, LOL. The CNN production was a thinly disguised campaign advertisement for Rahm Emmanuel, at best disingenuous, at worst intentionally deceptive.
I get it. There is no point in conservatives whining about blatant press bias, no matter how extreme it is. It does as much good for us to complain, as it does for liberals to whine about how the average temperature of the earth is not cooperating with their dire predictions of global warming. The laws of nature are what they are, unfairness notwithstanding. The sun heats the earth, and the sun’s temperature is variable, thus the earth went back and forth repeatedly, from ice ages to temperate climates even before humans ever burned the first drop of petroleum. Much to the chagrin of eco-liberals, the vagaries of climate change do as they will, and they do so in total disregard of executive orders. Just as surely, a law of nature dictates that the dominant media will lie, cheat, distort and dissemble in order to promote liberal causes and the politicians who advance them. That’s just the way it is. Object to your heart’s content, but then get used to it.
Very well, we’re used to it, but that does not mean that we refuse to expose it. Liberals often get away with their journalistic misdeeds, but like the bank robber who has left fingerprints at the crime scene, they should always be looking over their shoulder, never smugly confident that they will never be held accountable. Let them feel at least slightly ashamed to look in the mirror.
With this in mind, let’s compare the Rahm Emmanuel so-called “documentary” with the news media treatment of New Jersey governor Chris Christie in the Bridge-gate scandal. That coverage convicted Christie based on zero evidence. No news organization promised Christie to portray him “as the star he really is,” as they promised Emmanuel. On the contrary, they feared that Christie might become an impediment to Hillary Clinton’s aspirations to become president, and so they had to “Palinize”1 him as a preventive measure.
Likewise, having condemned Christie, CNN acquitted Emmanuel, not on the evidence, but quite the opposite, in defiance of overwhelming evidence. One might, with a sense of macabre humor, wonder why, with all their collusion and manipulation of their so-called news documentary, CNN did not arrange for the sky-high murder rate in Emmanuel’s city to decrease, at least until the ratings were in.
It is also telling that CNN, in previous reporting, damned with faint praise, at best, the one moment in Emmanuel’s tenure as mayor in which he defied the Chicago teacher’s union when it made unreasonable demands on the city’s taxpayers. To be sure, merely faint praise was appropriate—Emmanuel is no Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, who despite furious political tactics by the far left, forced the teacher’s unions into a semblance of sanity (2011 conflict with the teacher’s union, state senate2). Emmanuel missed that opportunity to shine. He could have, indeed should have, tamed his extremist base by rewarding students, not the unions. That would have provided an excellent addition to the next printing of John F. Kenney’s Profiles in Courage. Liberal politicians do have courage, don’t they? Would I be overusing the acronym, LOL?
Instead, Emmanuel, in the CNN puff piece, selects one promising student, and decides to help him succeed. That is admirable, but why only one? Why use that one, deserving student as a political prop? Why not smash the pervasive corruption that makes so much of the Chicago public school system the de facto financial property of the unions? Why not break the grip that crushes so many thousands of deserving students? Emmanuel could do this.
Why doesn’t he? For one thing, Chicago is, much to the misfortune of its public school students, not in Wisconsin.
1 Palinize means, in this context, to do what many in the news media did to Sarah Palin–in other words, to relentlessly lie about, distort and vilify a prominent conservative who poses a threat to the political objectives of the radical left ~ Robert Arvay
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by Joseph Beverly, Guest Contributor
This is what happened on January 1st 2014:
– Top Income tax bracket increased from 35% to 39.6%
– Top Income payroll tax went from 37.4% to 52.2%
– Capital Gains tax almost doubled from 15% to 28%
– Dividends tax more than doubled: 15% to 39.6%
– Estate tax soared from 0% to 55%
Remember this fact: if you have money, the Democrats want it.
These taxes were all passed only with Democrat votes, no Republicans voted
for these taxes.
These taxes were all passed under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
If you think that it is important that everyone in the U.S. should know about these exorbitant tax increases, please share, post, email and tweet it to your friends, family followers – anyone who might be interested and receptive to this important data.
Democrats simply don’t get it. It’s a simple equation: if government overtaxes workers, but increases monetary support to non-workers, it only serves to create more non-workers.
We now have 22 million unemployed and underemployed workers.
Government policy should make the poor, rich – not make the rich, poor!
The prosperity of any nation is the result of its collective productivity and its capital investment – less the cost of government and nonproductive entitlements – as measured in non-inflated (constant) dollars.
Obama, the Great Deceiver, promised not a dimes worth of new taxes for those earning $250,000 or less. He pledged to reduce government regulations (which curtail job-producing business investment). Instead regulations have skyrocketed as business investment moves abroad. See the attached chart which compares U.S. tax rates with other leading nations.
by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer
Here are a few radical statements that will shock many people on the left. I know from personal experience that many liberals are appalled by the principles spelled out in the next paragraph. I refuse to be held liable for any apoplexy liberals may experience by reading it.
The government has no rights, but only powers. Those powers are not the property of the government, but of the people. We the people loan power to the government, and we can revoke those powers any time at our sole discretion, without permission from the government. The Bill of Rights is intended to protect the people from the government, not to protect government from the people. The government has no right to privacy. It has no right to conceal its misdeeds, but indeed, it has an affirmative duty to reveal all of its activities to the citizenry. Rights belong only to the people. Those rights are granted to us, not by the government, but only by our Creator. Those in government are not our rulers, but our servants.
Such ideas are anathema to socialists, but they are solidly embedded in the foundations of the Constitution.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution includes the provision that no person “. . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. . .”
This is good and proper. This law restricts government power, and prevents its unjust use against the people. As with so many laws, however, it has been perverted. The rights conferred by the Bill of Rights are conferred not upon the government, but upon individuals, and especially in the context of protecting individuals from the government, not the other way around.
Instead of protecting our rights, the Fifth Amendment, one of the enumerations in the Bill of Rights, is now being used by government as yet another tool to suppress our rights. Here is an example.
Lois Lerner is the IRS administrator who publicly proclaimed her Fifth Amendment right not to testify before Congress, because such testimony might tend to incriminate her—but Lerner is not entitled to conceal her official crimes as an agent of the government. Quite to the contrary, she has an affirmative duty to reveal them in full. Her refusal to do so is a complete reversal of the intent of the Fifth Amendment.
Had Lerner shoplifted from a department store, her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify would be completely legitimate, because such a crime would, one presumes, not have been part of her official duties in the Internal Revenue Service. Had she shoplifted, she would have been acting as a private citizen, not as an agent of the government.
However, when Lerner used her power as a government agent to deprive American citizens of their First Amendment rights, she was indeed acting as an agent of the government. In doing so, she forfeited any claim to the Fifth Amendment right against testimony, because the government does not have a right to conceal its criminal action.
Recently, the Internal Revenue Service gave bonuses, at taxpayer expense, to employees of the IRS who failed to pay their own taxes. Some of them had even been disciplined for misconduct. How could this happen? How could miscreants and tax cheats who work for the IRS get bonuses?
Part of the answer lies in their employment contract. IRS employees are protected by a contract which forbids the government from using an employee’s misconduct as a basis for withholding bonuses. Let’s repeat that. An IRS employee’s misconduct cannot be used against him in determining whether he gets a performance bonus. This contract was negotiated between the unions, representing the bureaucrats, and the American people, who were represented in those negotiations by—by whom? Who in hell thought he was representing the American people when he agreed that employee misconduct cannot be a basis for denying a bonus payment? Do you believe that that government negotiator had the slightest concern whatsoever for your interests as a taxpayer? Think about that the next time the government takes your money to pay an IRS auditor who himself has not paid his taxes.
Such contracts are fraudulent and collusive. Clearly, the government employees union spends political campaign money to reward government negotiators who betray the trust of the people. Such contracts are therefore illegal, and any fair and just court would invalidate those contracts without delay.
Lois Lerner and the IRS are only the tip of the iceberg of corruption that has thoroughly saturated the government. Recently and infamously, it has been discovered that certain administrators in the Veterans Administration, in order to make themselves eligible for performance bonuses, delayed life-saving care for their patients, resulting in the deaths of several dozen or more of the veterans they were paid to protect.
I am outraged not only at the despicable actions of the administrators who, in effect, murdered our veterans for money—I am outraged by the excuses made for those who supposedly oversee the VA. The question is being asked, did they know that this abuse was going on? That is the wrong (insert curse word here) question. It matters not one whit whether they knew. The correct question is, should they have known? Were they doing their job of oversight? What, precisely, were they doing to seek out, discover, and/or prevent such abuses? My guess is that they were doing nothing. How else could people in the VA dare to have risked being caught with blood on their hands? In an environment where Lois Lerner tramples the Constitution and gets a pension, what fear does any government employee have of being caught? Why don’t these people respect the law? Why don’t they fear being punished for murder?
No doubt, they too, have a contract.
by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer
My mom was not famous. The world never knew her name, or much about her. Millions of other women were her comrades in the factories of World War II, a million “Rosies,” and riveters by other names.
In the 1930s, living with her own mother, mom decided that her sparse apartment needed a real refrigerator, not just an icebox. It was an era in which single women could not get a credit account, but the local appliance store was in desperate straits, and agreed to allow mom to pay for the refrigerator on an installment payment plan. Each payday, mom went to the store and made the weekly payment, principal plus interest, until finally the account was settled.
During that time, the store had changed owners, and mom decided she needed an electric stove to replace the wood burner. So down to the store she went, and picked out a stove. The new owner instructed mom to have her husband stop by and sign the papers. When he learned that mom was single, he became very stern, and informed mom that she would need a credit reference.
Mom replied, I have the best credit reference in town, a man of impeccable credit worthiness. The man asked, and whom might that be? Mom replied, you. She then explained that she had already bought and paid for a refrigerator in installments from the store owned by the man to whom she was talking. At first he was flummoxed. Never in his life had he sold anything on credit to a woman without her husband’s signature. In the end, he had to admit that mom had a good credit reference indeed, and sold her the stove. Mom made every payment on time.
When my mom passed away fifteen years ago, I knew that not only had I suffered a great loss, but also, so had the world. It is a better place for her having been here. She touched many lives in a positive way, giving encouragement to the discouraged, fruitful hope to the hopeless, and reassurance to those in doubt.
Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom. I miss you still.