Health Care Links

There’s lot’s of discussion going on about health care lately– very little of substance from our politicians (is anyone surprised?), who are more interested in ramming through a massive government “solution” than actually figuring out what a good solution might be.

Here’s some articles worth looking through to get yourself better informed:

 ♦ TennCare’s troubling history: Tennessee tried universal coverage with a public option in 1994, similar to what is planned for Obamacare. The result? Employers dumped patients onto the public option; massive cost overruns; doctors ran for the exits due to gawdawful reimbursements; rationing; activists endlessly demanding even more money be poured into the abyss. Hey, let’s try this at the national level!

 ♦ Health Reform \'s Hidden Victims. The Prez was asked at his presser which patients would need to sacrifice, and how much, in order to get health care reform done. He didn’t answer, but John Fund does. The victims who aren’t now paying attention are in for a very rude shock.

 ♦ Peggy Noonan has some good insights on why common sense may sink Obamacare. Here’s one in particular which I haven’t seen mentioned before, but which is definitely true:

The first [reason for Americans’ hesitance about government health care] has to do with the doctors throughout the country who give patients a break, who quietly underbill someone they know is in trouble, or don \'t charge for their services. Also the emergency rooms that provide excellent service for the uninsured in medical crisis. People don \'t talk about this much because they \'re afraid if they do they \'ll lose it, that some government genius will come along and make it illegal for a doctor not to charge or a hospital to fudge around, with mercy, in its billing. People are afraid of losing the parts of the system that sometimes work — the unquantifiable parts, the human parts.

Note to Peggy: its already illegal for your doctor not to charge the patient under Federal health care programs: Federal programs consider it fraud if you do not balance bill a poor patient for their Medicare./Medicaid copay and deductible, and your doctor can be fined or excluded from Medicare if he does this.

No joke.

That having been said, there’s a huge, undocumented financial pillar to the current system, which is charity & unreimbursed care by ERs and physicians. The former has been talked about a fair amount; the latter not at all. This charity care will disappear with universal coverage, and will be a large — and unanticipated — additional cost burden to be picked up by the taxpayer.

 ♦ The AMA sells out doctors:

“I think AMA has become part of the whole government-medical complex.” [Vuckovic] argues that the AMA has complacently accepted the transformation of the medical profession into a “service-delivery model, with both physician-providers and patient-customers slowly but surely becoming servants of the same paymasters: the private and public insurers.” The idea of returning medicine to a fee-for-service model has been all but abandoned in Washington, where AMA lobbyists spend most of their time.

Spot-on — the AMA is a bunch of elitist fools who are only interested in schmoozing with the politicians and pretending they are the voice of medicine. They are not, which is why their membership rolls look like the New York Times readership stats. Worthless traitors, as dangerous as they are ineffective.

Update: This from the AAPS:

In December 2008 the AMA had 236,153 members, of whom 20% were students and 13% residents; thus about 157,000 were practicing physicians — about 17% of some 900,000 eligible practitioners, compared with 22% in 2004. … in a recent online survey, 75% of some 4000 respondents said they were not AMA members; 89% said they did not believe the AMA speaks for them; 91% said the AMA does not accurately reflect their opinion as physicians.

Also noted: more than 85% of its $282 million annual revenue comes from sources other than membership dues.

See also this: The AMA Has Sold Out Physicians for a Few Bucks.

Stay informed, folks — and keep the phone lines to your senators and representatives singin’. Trust me, you do not want this monstrosity they are trying to shove down our throats.

Friday Links

For your weekend reading pleasure:

 ♦ On Edmund Burke, the French Revolution, and our current culture war: Conservatism and the Culture Wars:

Therefore, establishing an empire of desire requires more than political triumph, more than legal protection. Like all progressive ideals, it requires the destruction of the sentiments and pieties that lead people to think otherwise. This ideological project takes on the familiar distortions of all modern propaganda. “Words take on new meanings”, James Kalb writes in The Tyranny of Liberalism, “hatred comes to include opposition to liberal initiatives, while inclusiveness requires non-liberals to abandon their principles and even their identity. Tolerance treats objections to liberalism as attacks on neutrality that are oppressive simply by being made.”

 ♦ Paul Cella: The Crisis of Anomie

It is a particularly distressing feature of our age that even thoughtful men do not perceive the crisis into which they have been thrown. They profess ignorance of its depredations; and they even grow annoyed when pressed with its evidences. Say to them, “It is an extraordinary fact that for some decades now high culture in this country has nurtured an open detestation of the social order which gave it life and resources”; or “It is a marvel that American artists and men of letters concern themselves most passionately with disparagement and falsification of their inherited tradition” — and your tale will return void. Its accuracy will not be overtly denied, but it will be somehow disregarded. Or inquire of such men whether they think it noteworthy that though we are among the richest of all societies, we are very far from being the happiest: the puzzle will induce a blank stare or a blanker shrug. To resist or avoid reflection upon this bespeaks of a psychological numbness of some depth.

It is very easy, I think, to underestimate the strangeness of this state of things, this languor combined with bafflement. Even its prominent specimens no longer shock. It is certainly arresting to observe a society afflicted by, for instance, increasingly frequent, demonic acts of murder-suicide perpetrated by and against schoolchildren, or by disgruntled ex-employees against their former co-workers. What shall we call those whom it fails to disturb beyond the fleeting moment?

 ♦ The coming health care rationing: Obama Will Ration Your Health Care (HT: Maggies Farm) See also: The GOP Should Fight Health-Care Rationing and Take Two Aspirin and Call Your Congressman.

 ♦ He will have to change his name, once he stops moaning: Woman gives naked intruder a painful squeeze

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office says an 88-year-old woman fended off a naked intruder by grabbing the man’s crotch and squeezing.

Deputy Paul McRedmond says the man got into the house Tuesday through a sliding door. He backed the woman into her living room and pushed her face down onto a chair.

That’s when the woman reached behind and squeezed. The man tore free and fled…

Troutdale police arrested 46-year-old Michael G. Dick of Gresham.

Just another case of robbing Peter to repay gall.

 ♦ Get a scorecard, know the players: Israel & Gaza: Israel \'s strike on Gaza: a primer (HT: Donald Sensing)

 ♦ Everything you ever wanted to know about screwing: When a Phillips is not a Phillips!

 ♦ And while we’re on the topic…: No, not that kind (well, kinda sorta) — but how the media can screw up reporting a study in order to, you know, make it fit their narrative: Like a Virgin: The Press Take On Teenage Sex

 ♦ Crime doesn’t pay – but sometimes it can be damned clever: The Seven Best Capers of 2008

 ♦ “How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize?” Penn Jillete (of Penn & Teller fame), an avowed atheist, meets the Real Deal, and is deeply touched:

Somehow I’ve got a feeling that he has a very interesting future ahead…

That’s all for now — God bless, back soon.

Tuesday Links

Is there a spell-checker for tattoo artists?

 ♦ John Robb: The Coming Urban Terror. Written in 2007. Prescient — think Mumbai.

 ♦ More John Robb: An essay looking back at the privatization of America from the year 2025. Written in 2007, and disturbingly accurate about the economic developments.

 ♦ Keeping you abreast of the news: Tempest in a C-cup – 130,000 boobs lost at sea

 ♦ The security sieve at NASA: Network Security Breaches Plague NASA

 ♦ Wondering what our northern neighbors are up to with their government crisis? A Guide for the perplexed – Canada’s Constitutional Crisis

 ♦ Newsweak looks at the scriptural basis for marriage — and ends up making a fool of themselves (no surprise there): Sola scriptura minus the scriptura. Does the media go out of its way to hire idiots, or do they become stoopid working in that environment?

Remember, the Big Media (or B.M., as I prefer to call them) are far superior to New Media because, you know, they have editors — so what does Newsweak’s editor — who let this piece of drivel be published — think of the criticism it’s getting? “The worst kind of fundamenatalism”: What \'s the standard?. Jeez.

Update: Newsweek’s article, Our Mutual Joy, and Francis Beckwith’s response (with other references) is here. See also Rob Bowman’s excellent fisking: Fallacies in Biblical Interpretation: Newsweek \'s Defense of Gay Marriage.

 ♦ I smell defeat: Those of us in the Puget Sound area have been following a rather strange series of occurrences with our northern neighbors: feet, with shoes still on, have been washing ashore in British Columbia. Investigators have been stumped, but some clues are turning up: B.C. coroner matches pair of mysterious feet

Now, the copy-editor-wannabe in me is wondering why the AP has such a lame headline for this story. Here’s a few which come to mind:

  * “Six feet under in British Columbia”
  * “Friends say missing dancer had two left feet”
  * “Critics say New Balance ‘Rise to the Top’ ad is insensitive”
  * “Foot-weary Investigators Get a Clue”
  * “Proof that the Sole Survives Death”

 ♦ Wonder what the postage was? Inmate escapes German jail in box

 ♦ On the futility and shallowness of secular conservatism: Life, License, and the Pursuit of Pleasure:

Boethius would say that because we are ignorant of the end for which things exist, we think that stupid and wicked people are prosperous and happy. Boethius was a Christian, but that statement could have come from Marcus or Epictetus or Plato. The corollary is just as potent. We can never find happiness, or enjoy liberty, if we are stupid and wicked. It isn’t simply that a wicked and stupid people will lose their political freedoms. They will; but only because they have already lost their last shreds of liberty within. What good is the franchise, when we are slaves all the same?

 ♦ In a similar vein, there’s been a rather nasty spat going on between secular and religious conservatives; in short, the secular folks (e.g., Heather MacDonald & Kathleen Parker) want the religious folks thrown under the bus, because religion is just so “irrational” and without empirical evidence, etc., etc. — and furthermore, it’s keeping “real” conservatives from winning elections. Edward Feser’s response (author of The Last Superstition) should be read as an example of a gracious, yet entirely devastating, rebuttal to this “no empirical evidence for religion” foolishness: An open letter to Heather MacDonald

That’s all for now, back soon.

Friday Links

 ♦ Richard John Neuhaus at First Things has posted his Friday essay, well worth reading. It speaks to many of the same issues I addressed, albeit far less eloquently, in my previous post:

Obama’s public remarks on the freedom of religion and constitutional law demonstrate little awareness of the significance of the first freedom of the First Amendment in America’s law and lived experience. Moreover, after more than three decades of the most passionate public debate of these matters, Obama declared during the election that the moral and legal status of the unborn child are questions “above my pay grade.”

The truly ominous possibility, indeed likelihood, is that Obama does not see his extreme positions on abortion as being extreme at all. They are the entrenched orthodoxies of the parties that got him to where he is. Those in opposition are viewed as a recalcitrant minority guilty of perpetuating divisiveness, and the time has come to break their back once and for all. I hope I am wrong, but this strikes me as the more plausible understanding of the Freedom of Choice Act and other measures aimed at “bringing us together again.”

The response of Christian leaders to the imminent aggressions will require determined legal talent, especially in First Amendment law, a sharpening of public arguments, reaching out to those who do not understand what is at stake, and careful strategizing by pro-life activists and politicians. In the first place and in the long term, however, the need is for the courage to recover a biblical and historical understanding of what it means to say “Let the Church be the Church.” The Church is not an association of individuals sharing the experience of religion as what they do with the solitude. The Church is not in the consumption business, peddling the products that satisfy one’s self-defined spiritual needs. The Church is a unique society among the societies of the world; a community of obligation standing in solidarity with the truth who is Christ.

That is how the Church understood herself in the apostolic period, as witness St. Paul’s opening hymn in the letter to the Ephesians, his depiction of cosmic transformation in Romans 8, and his anticipation in Philippians 2 of every knee bowing and every tongue confessing Jesus Christ as Lord. That is how the Church understood herself in the patristic era when Justin Martyr proposed Christianity not as a more satisfying religion among other religions but as “the true philosophy.” It was the understanding of Saint Augustine, who proposed in City of God that the story of the gospel is nothing less than the story of the world. Were Christianity what a man does with his solitude, there would be no martyrs. In every vibrant period of the Church’s life, it has been understood that her message and mission are based on public events, are advanced by public argument, and invite public response.

Well worth your time, and highly recommended. Also worthwhile is his previous essay: Obama and the Bishops.

There are deeper problems. In the last four decades, following the pattern of American Protestantism, many, perhaps most, Catholics view the Church in terms of consumption rather than obligation. The Church is there to supply their spiritual needs as they define those needs, not to tell them what to believe or do. This runs very deep both sociologically and psychologically. It is part of the “success” of American Catholics in becoming just like everybody else. Bishops and all of us need to catch the vision of John Paul II that the Church imposes nothing, she only proposes. But what she proposes she believes is the truth, and because human beings are hard-wired for the truth, the truth imposes. And truth obliges.

 ♦ Duplicate keys from photos: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Locksmiths

 ♦ Best Rube Goldberg idea ever (don’t shoot pool with these guys for money!):

 ♦ John Robb looks at the coming Depression — and how it’s not like the last one: Setting the Stage

 ♦  The implications of Washington’s Initiative 1000: Coming to a state near you, very soon: Assisted Suicide: The Wind in Their Sails

 ♦ WWII spooks messed with German radio transmissions: Aspidistra

 ♦ Sippi talks economics. Makes sense to me.

 ♦ Mushroom soup, anyone? Front seat for the A-bomb:

That’s all for now — enjoy your weekend, God bless.

Monday Links

Richard Neuhaus: An Election About the Nature of the Church:

American Babylon is our culture. It is not the culture of our choice, although, given the other cultures on offer, it may be the culture we would choose if we had a choice. It is certainly the culture in which we have been chosen and for which we have a measure of responsibility. The irrepressible human aspiration toward the transcendent, toward that which at the core of our being we know to be our destined home, takes many different forms. That aspiration is our religion, whether or not we call it by the name of a religion. The aspiration may be stifled or misplaced, but it cannot be denied; at least it cannot be denied for long. When, as Augustine teaches, our loves and loyalties are rightly ordered, we recognize that the only satisfactory alternative to Babylon is the City of God. At least this is how Christians see the matter.

Living in the now and the not yet, we know Christ now. We know him in the context of prophetic promise as the Messiah of Israel; we know him in the biblical narrative of his birth, life, teaching, miracles, suffering, death, resurrection, and promised return; we know him in his words spoken in the assembly of the Church that is his body; we know him in the Real Presence of his sacramental promise daily fulfilled; we know him in the encounter with the needs of others who are, in the words of Mother Teresa, “Christ in distressed disguise”; and we know him in the cultivation of his friendship --day by day and, as Saint Paul says, without ceasing --that is the life of prayer.

Christ is now, the New Jerusalem is not yet. But then one must quickly add that the distinction between the now and not yet is not a separation, and certainly not an absolute separation. The movement of theological liberalism launched in the nineteenth century was given to such a separation. Alfred Loisy, a later modernist who was finally excommunicated from the Catholic Church, put the matter succinctly, “Jesus came preaching the Kingdom and what arrived was the Church.” In the view of many, the disappointment was understandable. Jesus and the gospel of the Kingdom is thought, not without reason, to be ever so much more appealing than his presence in the distressed, and distressing, disguise of the people who are the Church. And yet, while the two can be distinguished, they cannot be separated.

Saul of Tarsus, soon to become Paul the apostle, learned this the hard way. On his way to Damascus to imprison the Christians, Christ appeared and asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul might have objected that he was not persecuting Christ but only the disciples of Christ. He would learn --as with great difficulty Christians have been learning ever since --that Jesus cannot be separated from his people; that Christ, the head, cannot be separated from the Church, his body. To persecute the members of the body is to persecute Christ, the head of the body…

Meanwhile, and as members of the “contrast society” that the Church is to be, Christians exercise the courage of their convictions in trying to bring clear reason and moral truth to bear in the temporal order. This is the mission betrayed by Catholics and others who resort to embarrassingly contrived complexifications in order not to be seen as adherents of “single-issue politics” in a political season in which we are confronted by the starkest alternatives on the single issue that distinguishes the culture of life from the culture of death.

If the Brits get it, why don’t we? Is America really going to do this?:

Obama thinks world conflicts are basically the west \'s fault, and so it must right the injustices it has inflicted. That \'s why he believes in ‘soft power’ — diplomacy, aid, rectifying ‘grievances’ (thus legitimizing them, encouraging terror and promoting injustice) and resolving conflict by talking. As a result, he will take an axe to America \'s defenses at the very time when they need to be built up. He has said he will ‘cut investments in unproven missile defense systems’; he will ‘not weaponize space’; he will ‘slow our development of future combat systems’; and he will also ‘not develop nuclear weapons,’ pledging to seek ‘deep cuts’ in America \'s arsenal, thus unilaterally disabling its nuclear deterrent as Russia and China engage in massive military buildups…

Obama dismisses the threat from Islamism, shows zero grasp of the strategic threat to the region and the world from the encirclement of Israel by Iran, displays a similar failure to grasp the strategic importance of Iraq, thinks Israel is instead the source of Arab and Muslim aggression against the west, believes that a Palestinian state would promote world peace and considers that Israel – particularly through the ‘settlements’ – is the principal obstacle to that happy outcome. Accordingly, Obama has said he wants Israel to return to its 1967 borders – actually the strategically indefensible 1948 cease-fire line, known accordingly as the ‘Auschwitz borders’…

Daniel Pipes (Obama Would Fail Security Clearance) lists Obama \'s extensive connections to Islamists in general and the Nation of Islam in particular, and concludes with this astounding observation:

Obama’s multiple links to anti-Americans and subversives mean he would fail the standard security clearance process for Federal employees. Islamic aggression represents America \'s strategic enemy; Obama \'s many insalubrious connections raise grave doubts about his fitness to serve as America’s commander-in-chief.

Melanie Phillips stumps Richard Dawkins (or how Little Green Men are more believable than God):

I put to him that, since he is prepared to believe that the origin of all matter was an entirely spontaneous event, he therefore believes that something can be created out of nothing — and that since such a belief runs counter to the very scientific principles of verifiable evidence which he tells us should govern all our thinking, this is itself precisely the kind of irrationality, or ‘magic’, which he scorns. In reply he said that, although he agreed this was a problematic position, he did indeed believe that the first particle arose spontaneously from nothing, because the alternative explanation – God — was more incredible. Later, he amplified this by saying that physics was coming up with theories to show how matter could spontaneously be created from nothing. But as far as I can see – and as Anthony Flew elaborates – these theories cannot answer the crucial question of how the purpose-carrying codes which gave rise to self–reproduction in life-forms arose out of matter from which any sense of purpose was totally absent. So such a belief, whether adduced by physicists or anyone else, does not rest upon rational foundations.

Even more jaw-droppingly, Dawkins told me that, rather than believing in God, he was more receptive to the theory that life on earth had indeed been created by a governing intelligence – but one which had resided on another planet. Leave aside the question of where that extra-terrestrial intelligence had itself come from, is it not remarkable that the arch-apostle of reason finds the concept of God more unlikely as an explanation of the universe than the existence and plenipotentiary power of extra-terrestrial little green men?

John Robb on the global system shock: Observations:

One of the most interesting aspects of this global crisis is that it will impact all parts of the globe. This is arguably a first. In historical crises, wars or catastrophes, there is always a large external environment of relative normalcy. Our first real global event will directly impact all economic activity from Botswana to Albany. It’s even more interesting since the impact of this event is occurring simultaneously in all places at once.

This is a very bad thing.

Vanderleun: “What if we run out of jobs Americans won’t do?”: Armies of the Blight

Gagdad Bob tackles the problem of free will: Freedom, Authority, and the Absent-Presence of God:

…the Christian lives with “the paradox of almighty God reduced to a state of extreme powerlessness.” This is said to be “the most perfect revelation of the God of love.” It is quite radically different from the pagan or new age belief in a God who would leap down from the cross and, for a mere $1995.00, sell you the magical secrets of fulfilling your every desire at a weekend seminar in beautiful Sedona, Arizona! …
In short, “The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God of love who governs only by intrinsic authority of the Divine — by truth, beauty, and goodness — i.e., they prefer a God who is actually almighty to the crucified God.”

Joe the Plumber & First Principles: Joe the Plumber, Part IV

Touchstone zeros in: Practical Atheism Revisited:

We are Christians, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, denouncing the Democratic party as constitutionally anti-Christian…

One of the most common defenses for Democratic loyalties is to assert the moral equivalence of the two parties, to claim that their respective errors leave the Christian to vote for the one he thinks most Christian, or least unchristian. If the Democrats endorse abortion, sodomy, and the like, Republicans cut social programs for the poor. This is a plausible and attractive argument except for one thing. We know with certainty that abortion and sodomy are evil, but we do not know with any certainty whether any particular disbursement of funds for the poor is good or bad or mixed. Our faith directs us to give alms, quietly and generously, and to bless and care for the widows and the fatherless, but also tells that those who will not work shall not eat. Distinctions, often difficult ones, must be made in our policies between who should be marked as poor and who should not, and on how collective monies should be spent or not spent for their relief, the kind of distinctions that have historically marked differing party philosophies, and upon which Christians have historically had differences of opinion. A Christian may think the Democrats’ social and economic programs are superior to the Republicans’, but he knows that the Democrats’ moral policies are aggressively ungodly.

Think gay marriage is about gays getting married? Think again: What same-sex “marriage” has done to Massachusetts:

Homosexual “marriage” hangs over society like a hammer with the force of law. And it \'s only just begun.

It \'s pretty clear that the homosexual movement \'s obsession with marriage is not because large numbers of them actually want to marry each other. Research shows that homosexual relationships are fundamentally dysfunctional on many levels, and “marriage” as we know it isn \'t something they can achieve, or even desire. (In fact, over the last three months, the Sunday Boston Globe \'s marriage section hasn \'t had any photos of homosexual marriages. In the beginning it was full of them.) This is about putting the legal stamp of approval on homosexuality and imposing it with force throughout the various social and political institutions of a society that would never accept it otherwise. To the rest of America: You’ve been forewarned.

Saturday Links

A few links for your weekend browsing pleasure:

  • Cloud warfare: Army Adds Its Own Aviation Unit. Bottom-up changes in the military for asymmetrical warfare using Pin-Point Liquidations and Network Collapse
  • Dean Esmay sobers up: and writes a very enlightening piece on the progression of alcoholism: Alcoholism Progression
  • Protecting your credit and identity: Been dinged a few times with fraudulent credit card charges, so it’s tempting to hire one of those credit & ID theft protection companies. Turns out you can easily do everything they do, for a lot less money: Never Pay Someone to Protect Your Identity. A credit lock is also cheap, easy, and reversible — not to mention a good safeguard against impulsive credit by you: Credit Security Freezes
  • Dr. Discontented: Man, can I relate — my profession is being exsanguinated by a thousand cuts, and its a full-time effort to keep focused on the goal of caring for patients. Lots of docs are retiring early, lots more restricting their practices or doing more boutique services. Look for a significant access problem in the near future. Eyes Bloodshot, Doctors Vent Their Discontent
  • Open-source health care: Interesting take from a Linux guy on shifting the control center to the patient. Mixed bag, from where I see it, with huge issues of privacy, data security, access control (who gets to see/edit your medical data?), etc. The Patient as the Platform (HT: John Ballard)
  • Straight Talk Express?: “Brothel bus” makes last stop in Miami Beach
  • Lets do the Canadian health care system, shall we?: Canadian Health Care We So Envy Lies In Ruins, Its Architect Admits

That’s all for now, God bless, take care.

Wednesday Links

Back soon, God bless.

Photo: Cass River Shay No. 5, an old geared logging locomotive.

Wednesday Links

  • How does your salary compare with others?: 2006 National Compensation Survey. The full report is here
  • No Amber Alert needed: Lost parrot tells veterinarian his address
  • Costly oil is good for (some) (U.S.) businesses: This report on the effects of expensive oil on transport costs and the globalization of economies shows some surprising winners, such as U.S. steel companies.
  • Correct diagnosis, doctor: VDH diagnoses the baby-boomer “me” generation: All About Me
  • Want to get insulted?: high-class insult generator you can use on friends and family. To wit:
    “If you behave, there will be cake for the miscreants we call your brothers.”
    “Anathema comes ever to mind when thinking of you.”
    “Your dainty nostrils flare with the humblest grandiosity of an ant swallowing a water buffalo.”
    Makes me want to start a greeting card company…
  • Neo bemoans the discontinuation of a favorite product: which brought to mind perhaps the best appeal ever for a discontinued product, written by Lileks:
    An Open Letter to Bath and Body Works
    Don’t read it with food or drink in your mouth, lest you make an embarrassing mess…
  • Death of free speech in Canada: Deafening silence. Coming soon to a country of your own.