Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Health Care Discussion & Public Virtue

Today while observing the politicians who occupy our television and various other devices streaming news through the eyes of the media commentator, one might find themselves caught up in the opinions of the favored commentator, perhaps identifying with their perspective, at least in principle. Are we perhaps doing ourselves an injustice by assuming the opinions of our favorite news sources without truly looking behind the scene to understand motive and intent?

What is virtue? A desired quality; an asset; a good value; high merit/caliber and goodness. When we look at public figures and we assess their performance do we see their good value, high merit and caliber, their goodness? Is it important for our elected officials to have and demonstrate virtue? One of the architects of our republic, Benjamin Franklin, held this idea: “"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." Also, from the first president, “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder. “ –George Washington

Today we are exposed to news reports of elected officials who either sold out their virtue for a dollar or they never possessed it and were caught fully exposed in their unethical character. The understatement above by George Washington then becomes all the more relative. Yet, conversely, we have some who hold virtue an honor and speak out in defense of it. Of late, Backman, Palin, Issa, and Conryn to name a couple. It is not that we are void of Virtuous leadership it is that we are overwhelmed by the shameful.

We arrive now at the threshold of an incredible time for liberty’s survival. If Franklin’s assessment is correct, ‘only virtuous people are capable of freedom’, where does this leave Liberty and you? Our country is being ripped apart from those who would march Liberty way out to sea from her home on the Hudson River and out of our lives as Americans vs those who hold Patrick Henry’s words as a mantra: “Give me liberty or give me death!”

We have been eye witnesses to the struggle for Liberty these past few weeks during the passionate discussion regarding health care and the proposal before the public being considered in the Congressional portion of the legislative branch. Public Virtue dictates honest debate on real issues that may lay dormant in HR 3200. Recently, Mike Leavitt referenced the health bill as ‘essentially a series of headlines and aspirations.’ [commences at 4:30 seconds] Please pay special attention to the ‘process’ of fleshing in the details of the outline which is HR 3200 as discussed. How can debate proceed when generalities populate the document, said generalities having ignited such a blaze? Wouldn’t Public Virtue involve what is best for the whole of the Republic not merely the elected officials; especially those who make no bones about their vocation? Going back to Washington’s comments regarding virtue vs highest bidder, is it any wonder the folks who have gone out on the hot August days to vent their thoughts and concerns with their elected officials [or their AARP representatives], do not recognize the leadership’s reticence to actually discuss issues as a Public Good? Or, Public Virtue?

The President has already taken his stand, there will be health care reform in 2009! And to that demonstrative dictate perhaps the question should be reiterated, “Why the rush on this bill when it took 6 months to choose a dog?” CAVEAT: Don’t know that it took that long but certainly it was in the news for a long time.

Would it not be in the majority’s best interest to truly hash out the health care plan that works to serve America’s already notable heath care industry?

Senator McCaskill made the following points during her town hall in Hillsboro, MO:

1. No bill has been voted on

2. The Senate will not be voting on the HR 3200

Since no bill has been voted on, how about they return to the drawing table and rework the bills they are entertaining for vote and have it reflect or at least assuage the concerns of the many VIRTUOUS Americans who came out and continue to show up at the meetings. Public Virtue, again, what is good for the country not for the individual, especially if that individual stands to gain from the loss of liberty and health care standards which are the envy of many western nations!

A challenge goes forth from this blog: Instead of trying to beat some partisan clock to win a victory as a feather in your legacy cap with the passage of such an unpopular bill; instead of rushing through this process just for the sake of ‘getting her done’, how about you step back and work at this with the long view!? So what if you don’t get the credit for the whole deal, if you at least get it going down a reasonable road that will be far more important and virtuous.

One last question: Where is it ordered, sanctioned, authorized or mandated that our government provide health care? That is a personal issue. In the early days it was between the practitioner and the patient. Entrepreneurial spirit initiated a bit of capital market trade when they sponsored health insurance. It is private business. The Social Security Act introduced the Medicare component which insinuated the government into the health care industry. There are many ways which have been suggested to create competition between private industry without the government looming over the whole health care system to its potential detriment. We all admit something has to give, and there is no doubt private insurance will need to be the biggest giver, but there has to be a far better way to innovate than to burden all of America with a national health care system. Apart from all of the philosophical discussion on the rights and wrongs of the form of government that leads to, the idea what was to be LIMITED GOVERNMENT now has carved out the potential to come in and hobble our freedoms on so many levels with this sort of health care is over kill!

Here is a clue: If you just went back to trying to fix Medicare? The 90Billion dollars lost to fraud would be a great place to start funding the physicians the fees they require that will encourage them to accept Medicare. It may be na├»ve but if doing nothing means absolute collapse for the entire system it may well be in everyone’s best interest to sit down and really work out a solution the Medicare folks can live with and the doctors and health care industry can support. The rest of the folks, those on private insurance they need to work through their power to purchase to motivate the private sector and those without, more and more companies are offering limited health care which will cover the big ticket items at least. Those industries have regulators to make sure they are offering real coverage for real health care needs.

Employing people to write health care who give access to a certain age group while exercising an actuarial attitude towards other age groups on either end of the ‘life’ spectrum will not for a long time fly with Americans. They are not ready for selective survival determined by a committee. They are not close to acceptance of eugenics. And let not the leadership forget, you too will grow old and face life threatening malady.

Just because someone is deemed a leader does not mean they are virtuous. Americans standing up and being heard right now demonstrate their desire for liberty and in doing so take the leadership role in PUBLIC VIRTUE. This is not something your neighbor can do for you or you can do for your neighbor. This is all on you!

REMEMBER: “"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Town Hall Meeting Etiquette

Perhaps Another Beer Summit?

The President should return to his childhood culture and utilize finesse by having 'talk story' sessions with the country's ohana.

Okay, so in the hallowed walls of the House and Senate, decisions are made in a vacuum that emanate out and bind all in America. Typically, these decisions are made, somewhat reported on in the news, Americans grumble a little and they go on about their lives. If they don’t really like something, or conversely, they do, then they use their vote at the next election to register their assent/dissent. Town Hall Meetings are typically reserved for promoting a candidate. They have become far more popular of late and so it is no surprise they’d be employed to communicate with Americans about the one topic that has gotten everyone all riled up!

It is a good thing the lawmakers decided to not rush to judgment, choosing instead to give the people a little one on one time to answer questions, address concerns and build support. The Town Hall Meeting is a great way. Here’s where it has gone south as a great idea. The Hosts of these meetings are not coming to solicit input by answering questions. They came to propagandize their agenda mostly to ‘educate’ people about the bill. Sadly, they seem to all have a script and it is the same tired script the president has been using over and over and over and over and over. The folks out there in America are not the stupid people the politicians truly believe they are. They do not need the repetitive speeches done over and over as though saying it often enough will inculcate the masses and they will accede mindlessly. So when you keep saying ‘if you like your doctor and your insurance you can keep it’ understand, the folks are bright enough to know it cannot happen that way because their employer has already told them depending on the ‘public option’ they may give up private insurance for public plan and thus no more ‘keep the same doctor and insurance’. Of course one could opt to pay full price for the insurance plan while the employer offers other staff coverage under the public plan. That is not a savings for the employee paying for a private plan just to keep the doc and the insurance because the employer decides to opt in to the public plan. And isn’t the purpose of this big overhaul to bring down costs? Or is it merely to bring down costs for the government? <--- Said tongue in cheek!

People go to these meetings hoping to ask questions and get intelligent dialogue going only to find out the hosts have a script and the questions are not part of the script. So, frustration? Absolutely! And why not! A major MAJOR change is threatening to alter their health care and no one is really forthcoming with real information -- only the same platitudes which are easily dismissed with the simplest of reasoning. Human nature sustains a typical reaction to frustrating stimulus: When the human is unable to dispatch the source of the frustration, in this case, get answers to question or learn what the plan hopes to accomplish, the questions issue forth and when not answered the level of the voice goes up as a natural response to a question seemingly unheard. Eventually others in the audience wanting to assist the individual who appears not to hear echoes the same question -- then chaos begins to ensue. The hosts at these town hall meetings haven’t gotten it yet. They should just set up the podium, or grab a chair and sit in round circle, ask for questions, answer to the best of their ability. If they cannot answer, make an effort to get the information and release it. And here's a novel idea: How about the hosts record the concerns of the people, legitimate or not, and take those back to their hallowed walls for further debate? How about honoring the PEOPLE who pay the politician’s salaries and the politician's GREAT HEALTH PLANS by working with them to create a health care reform that works FOR them and not against them.

Now, to add insult to injury, the hosts are bringing bodies to occupy seats at the various locations from the SEIU and Organizer of America effectively neutralizing the purpose of the meetings by denying the American, who has a right to his/her opinion and to elicit information from the lawmaker/host, a place to sit where they can ask question. This opportunity would allow the concerned citizen to rest ‘assured’ the quality of their life, their income, their family’s well being is not going to be radically changed and for the worse by this hell share overhaul.

It is an abomination, an out right egregious assault to the American to take what could have been an outstanding opportunity to reflect REAL TRANSPARENCY and acknowledge REAL CONCERN and show UTTER RESPECT by using these meetings and this recess to really connect in a positive way with the folks. It is truly a shame the campaign trail had this guy out there wooing the public being a ‘regular’ guy having a hamburger and fries and reaching out to the folks; now, treating them with such contempt as to rig and stage these events to create the most havoc is shameful. Imagine this could be purposeful to cast the ‘regular’ folks in the worse possible light thus diminishing their worth and input.

Let’s not lose heart! NOVEMBER 2, 2010 is a little over a year away and that is when the ‘little people’ -- the administration is truly alienating through such disrespect -- will vote out those who participated and showed them they really mean nothing to their respective elected representatives. The level of heat that is going to be stoked to white hot with each and every occasion of the dismissive attitude by politicians will not easily be assuaged. People will remember and when it comes time to enter the voting booth they will make a difference.

So, how come the whole beer summit thing hasn’t been the theme of these meetings? I don’t mean serve beer but how about a room where everyone is sitting, informally, face to face, and just talking one on one? You know, Congressperson or Senator just says ‘I’m here to answer questions, clear the air, help you understand and take your concerns back to Washington”? Why the whole ‘listen up this is what we came here to do!’ The folks in DC cannot possibly be so naive as to believe the masses would not be up in arms. It is not about any cable channel or personality, no talk show pundit whipping up the hot winds of anger. It is not about one party trying to subvert another. It is about John & Jean Q Citizen who understand math, finance, budgets, running households, managing differences, developing team consensus. It is about the many families who fully understand the impact this bill will have on their lives and ultimately the quality of life for every citizen. They just wanted to sit down and have politicians convince them to go against their better judgment and fully understand how this is going to be A GOOD THING, that’s all! How is that so tough for the politicians to grasp. The fact that it is not happening is astounding confirmation the folk’s assumptions are real and correct and the future is looking maddeningly frightful and bleak and yeah, they will totally revolt against it any way they can because it goes against their grain not to.

The Government has failed to seize the moment in an historic and epoch way. They have instead shown themselves to be as those who have critiqued them have suggested: akin to the types who resort to intimidation as a means to an end. In America, land of the Brave, HOME OF THE FREE, the folks do not take kindly to threats! What’s more, they do not have a lot of patience with people who ought to know better but who prefer to induce ‘fear’ through psychological manipulation.

Here is hoping the Town Hall Meetings begin to turn a corner and productive discourse between people begins to happen. That would be far better a legacy for the president than ‘you owe, you owe so off your knee caps go!’

Come on, grab a brew, hang loose, talk story, ‘hear’ the folks. Emerge with a health care reform that has the support of the folks and kicks America up a notch as the prevailing and premiere health industry of the world! That would look far better on your resume'!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

Or is that the ‘winds of change’ they are a blowin’!

The American people have been through a decade long interruption to their normal routine/comfort zone, commencing with the 2000 vote for President and ending with the summer recess of the House and Senate 2009. Along the way we managed to be attacked by murderous religious zealots, live through home grown terror in the form of white powder delivered via mail, a war that was labeled the ‘mother of all wars’ by Saddam and ‘Shock and Awe’ by the US which proved to be neither; well maybe it is becoming the ‘mother of all wars’ from a couple of different perspectives.

We managed to get through another presidential campaign, though Chad’s name did not come up again as being indecisive; a housing spike that turned out to be deeper than it was high -- ending in a nose dive for the economy never seen by the generation living today, driven there by the highest fuel costs experienced in a short period of time arriving at the end of the road where a lot of people are without jobs, homes, and food. A government, which has once again changed hands, and is printing monopoly money buying up pieces of our national monopoly board! It isn’t the Reading RR but GM; not hotels on Broadway but banks in Manhattan; the electric company is mandated by Cap & Trade promising to drive up costs for power so high people cannot afford the luxury. The Community Chest is TARP and if by CHANCE you have a get out of jail card it will be funded by Stimulus dollars. [The chain gang will have shovels.] Pretty soon, the government owns pretty much all the homes and businesses and you realize, the last vote you cast for change was really nothing more than another ‘roll of the dice’!

The interesting phenomenon that has chased itself from one end of the left/right spectrum to the other has been about the same thing but with different players. For the last few years of the Bush administration folks were up in arms over the Patriot Act, the Surveillance Act, the attempt to alter Presidential powers and changing of the verbiage to the ‘posse comitatus’ proviso. People were so utterly concerned about their right to privacy, their civil liberties, and rightly so, by the time the man who talked ‘change’ with a ‘yes we can’ do attitude figuratively walked off the water right onto the Presidential red carpet and began his reign. Yep, the folks who could not say enough about what was becoming of our constitutional rights, our individual liberties and our right to privacy moved their support from the dominant reigning party to the party that could do no right just a few years earlier. They voted and their mandate was clearly in support of change!

How’s that working out?

The nearly invisible presidency of Bush has become the weekly Obama Show at prime time. While the economy began to tank on the Bush watch the tank’s bottom has given way to a black hole sucking the life out of our once vibrant capitalist entrepreneurial country on the Obama watch. Bush’s intelligence gains have become Obama’s means.

Monopoly is now the name of the government game. Big CENTRAL Government where they sit you down and let you know what you are allowed to eat, drink, do, drive, where you get your healthcare, how warm/cold you can keep your home, because those smart appliances the Cap n Trade bill mandates will be radio frequency controlled and the utility companies will moderate the internal temps of our homes and businesses. They permit you to labor but you only get to keep a tithe of your pay, the government, now your mortgager, your banker, your health care provider, your ‘sin’ moderator [cigarettes, soda, chocolate, alcohol] your car dealer, your educator and volunteer coordinator, your family planner for how many live births to ‘end of life’ decisions and the final arbiter on how ‘old’ old really is, they now get the rest of your pay. In short, because we are lily livered, sniveling, spoiled, stupid and entitled children the government will shoulder the responsibility we have systematically volunteered to give to them. How you may ask?

We got greedy and needed a baby sitter for free. That would be the education system. From pre-school to college from age 2 to 23 the government gives us tax credits, provides the public schools, feeds the kids breakfast and lunch, teaches them academia and social classes. The kids learn how to read condom labels, do the math to determine how much they need for medicinal marijuana, learn virtual geography that comes in handy on My Space and Facebook, how to dress to impress. [I know, in our day it was short tight skirts and today it is big baggie pants.] Phys Ed is now ‘recreational drugs’. We have grown to appreciate the various meanings of ‘crack’. We have crack: the drug, crack: that which you see when the baggy pants fall or the hip huggers do not quite cover the hips and lastly those who use Blackberry phones and devices are ‘crack’berry freaks! On week ends we drop the kids off at the mall and let store personnel, food courts and Hollywood keep them occupied.

Morality has become a naughty, politically incorrect word. We are to ‘embrace’ the differences. We ‘the baby boomers’ -- those of us who detested the ‘establishment’ when we were teens -- wound up handing our lives and our kids lives right over to the very thing we struggled so hard to break free from as kids! Now the ‘establishment’ has loomed so large and whose tentacles are so far reaching and all encompassing there is a stranglehold on everyone of us. This all happened as our personal opinions and individuality eroded and gave way to ‘groupthink’ with ‘social behavior’ no longer innately understood but being dictated to us and it is not a pretty picture. The Bible cautions: “Woe to those who are saying that good is bad and bad is good…” [Isaiah 5:20]

Where does it all end? Or, when? If not soon, never! Independence, individuality and freedom will first disappear as a reality and likely either evolve into some other meaning; foot noted in some ‘radical’ history book or disappear from dictionary.com forever. The two party system will probably ‘change’ to ‘no party’ or ‘class’ systems as the migration from a democratic republic morphs into totalitarian, or worse. We have the ‘dog days of summer’ NOW to work out freedom, our rights, our independence and our individuality. We need to get out and engage in letter writing campaigns first to the elected officials and then to our neighbors. We need to make sure we are not so conditioned by the government in our apathetic malaise that we do not notice the tanks rolling down our streets as ‘wrong’! We need to understand there is a distinctive plan to engage in age discrimination, in exploiting vulnerabilities, and in being recreated in someone else’s image! The healthcare reform as it is being touted currently is a means to an end, but what end and for whom? I will let the more informed paint that one.

Folks, please do not draw comfort in considering yourself one of the ‘silent majority’! We cannot afford to be silent. As the majority we need to make sure our input reaches all the way to the halls of the White House, Capital Hill and reverberates all the way back to the sovereign states and their respective Capital institutions! The architects of the greatest government since the Theocracy of Israel designed a form of government from the bottom up with the majority of the power in the ‘people’ with limited power with the government. We MUST protect the inalienable right to LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS and protection comes only from activity. If you do not USE it you WILL LOSE IT!

All you folks who were rightly and deeply concerned about your civil liberties under Bush and who opted for ‘change’ in Obama, it is understood that you in no way dreamed this would be the change you would get. If you were to compare the two, and you shouldn’t have to, it may be hard to turn a blind eye to the 6 months of nearly irreversible damage done to this country since the first of the year in comparison to the 8 yrs of Bush. The percipient ones understood Bush facilitated change with his policies, however such prescient knowledge no doubt lacked full spectrum affects of how the change would ultimately be realized. Hindsight, as they say is 20/20.

As in any storm the winds change directions, sometimes from one way to another other times circular - counter and then clock wise. The winds of change unleashed in November of 2008 were not correctly perceived as foreboding by the masses. They missed the signs. On January 22 or 2009, however, the winds began blowing out from the White House first to the nation then to the world and when the dust settles Lady Liberty may be looking at the skeletal remains of a once truly FREE DEMOCRACY.

You have the power to alter the course of this storm. Push back by writing letters and sending them. Forget about emailing the elected folks they do not have working emails but have forms where they tell you but do not listen. You can try calling but the interns, their staff, by now have grown accustomed to the disgruntled and dismayed among us and likely are no longer taking detailed messages, if any at all and you can figure it is being delivered through a filter of their perceptions of the caller. That is of course if you can even get through. Contact your local papers, television and radio stations and let them know you really want to know when the Town Hall Meetings for discussion of healthcare reform will be held so you can make an appearance in support of slowing down the process and giving it time for legitimate and creative debate. Keep their news desk folks and their editors busy answering and reading your concerns. Tell the media and elected officials to look at models like Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic and see how to replicate their healthcare. Don’t look at MassCare, Canadian or UK Social systems as models. Be active in whatever way you can – you may be able to continue to enjoy the life you have carved out for yourself. You will be able to snuggle up in your comfort zone and feel like it is all yours. If you don’t do anything you have been promised by Ms. Obama that the president will make sure you are no longer IN your comfort zone but ENGAGED in what he has decided should be your life! No! Uh ah! We the people will exercise our freedoms of speech and self expression!