Mexico City Policy

The “Mexico City Policy” is a foreign policy that prohibits US aid to other countries from being used to perform or promote abortions.  It began under the Reagan presidency and has been turned on or off every time party control of the White House changed.  Globalists have criticized President Trump for reinstating this policy, which was canceled by President Obama, while many religious and right-to-life groups have praised his action.

For those of you who don’t care about the religious aspect I’ll present a secular argument for it beginning with this question: why should women in other countries think that US taxpayers owe them free abortions?  We’re not taking care of our own citizens!  Many people still don’t have health insurance.  A recent survey revealed that 30% of people who have Obamacare policies don’t seek needed health care because they can’t afford the astronomical deductibles.  An estimated 22 US veterans commit suicide every day because they can’t get adequate health care through the dysfunctional VA.  We also have homeless veterans freezing on the streets and being attacked by street thugs.  We have children who go to school hungry every day and elderly people dying because they can’t afford their medications.  We have a drug abuse epidemic that’s destroying lives and families every day.  Now, tell me why we owe people in other countries free abortions.

As I said once before, we are not the world’s sugar daddy.  https://usagenda22.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/we-are-not-the-worlds-sugar-daddy-either/

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One Small Cut for Health Care Costs

The ACA, or Obamacare, does nothing to reduce the cost of health care or even stem the cost increases.  It’s a numbers game to get more people with policies, even if they can’t afford to use those policies when they get sick because of high deductibles and copays.  Now I’d like to look at a few ways those costs could be reduced.

Drug prices are skyrocketing, even for generic varieties.  That’s because many countries have price controls on drugs while the US does not, so US patients are subsidizing drug development.  US patients are subsidizing something else too: advertising.  Many doctors don’t like it when patients come to their office demanding a drug they saw on TV or even self-diagnosing, and many countries don’t allow prescription drug advertising.  Advertising contributes nothing to our health, so let’s end the practice and save some money.  The second way to reduce drug costs is to end a form of price fixing.  When a patent on a popular drug expires the manufacturer can pay off (bribe) generic drug makers to delay introducing generic versions, thus continuing their profits to the detriment of patients.  This needs to stop.

You can’t reduce health care costs by increasing taxes on health care, so abolish the medical device tax permanently.  Right now that tax is only on hold.  A 2.3% tax on medical devices would cause immediate price inflation of more than that amount because of the overhead required to process it.  See my post “Just Because You Can Make It Complicated Doesn’t Mean You should” for the argument against excess overhead.

The country needs tort reform.  Medical malpractice insurance is expensive, in fact, so expensive in some specialties that doctors are leaving their practices.  In our lawsuit-happy country jury awards have become virtually unlimited so insurers have no way of estimating costs.  Doctors are human, sometimes they make mistakes and victims deserve compensation, but that compensation should be reasonable.  With tort reform victims would be entitled to full compensation for actual losses including any out-of-pocket medical expenses but “intangible losses” would be capped at some multiple of the actual loss, possibly in a range of 2-10 times.  The cap could even depend on whether the intangible loss was temporary or permanent.  With a 5x cap a person who suffered $50,000 actual loss would recover the full loss but they couldn’t get more than $250,000 for an intangible award.  This may sound unfair but the “lawsuit lottery” is equally unfair because two people with similar injuries can get very different awards depending on the composition of the jury.  Negotiated settlements are fair but mandatory arbitration is not because it deprives victims of their day in court.  When arbitration pits an individual against a company the company is likely to win.  The cap would be lifted if the harm was intentionally inflicted, in which it would also be a criminal case.  Since few people enter the medical profession to inflict harm that shouldn’t be a common occurrence.  Insurance is a business of numbers and as long as one of  those numbers is “infinity” costs can’t be controlled.

Repeal the Bill of Rights?

In “The Freedom Triangle” I explained how freedom is defined by three components: democracy, rights, and responsibilities.  Our basic inalienable rights are found in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights.  Every one of them is important.  Every one was included because the authors of the Constitution, in their wisdom, had seen how authoritarian governments had abused their subjects and sought to protect us.  In fact the Constitution doesn’t talk about “subjects”, it talks about “We the People”.

Now the Constitution can be changed by the deliberately cumbersome process of amendment.  It’s long and tedious and the outcome is uncertain, but in this case that’s a protection, not an inefficiency.  Democrats, socialists, and other progressives, however, have found ways to weaken our rights by DE FACTO means.  That term simply means “that’s how it is”.  If you don’t like a law but can’t easily change it, find ways to circumvent it.  These tactics might be unofficial, like intimidation, or official, through restrictions or taxation.   In this article I’ll look at how several amendments are being attacked.

First Amendment:

Intimidation (aka Bullying):  At this time intimidation is the primary weapon against free speech.  It began with political correctness, a crybaby concept that has grown from a minor nuisance into a state religion.  We see intimidation on college campuses where students complain about “micro-aggression”, demand “safe spaces”, and are even told to call police if they hear something “offensive”.  Now that’s intimidation.  On a larger scale, political correctness stifles communication to a point where serious issues can’t even be discussed.

Intimidation also threatens religious freedom by erasing religious equality.  When Christian churches remove exterior crosses so they don’t “offend” Muslim immigrants they’re not accommodating newcomers, they’re surrendering their right to exist as a public entity; doing exactly what is required in Muslim countries.  From a Christian point of view they’re denying Christ just as Peter did.  When a restaurant owner is bullied into removing a sign advertising bacon for breakfast his free speech is suspended.  Jews don’t eat pork either but they’ve never tried to impose their dietary rules on others.

Legal Action:  Can the USA have laws against free speech beyond the “don’t yell fire in a theater if there isn’t one” and “don’t threaten violence”?  Maybe, because it’s happening in European countries that guarantee free speech.  In Germany a comedian has been arrested for insulting the president of Turkey, and In Sweden people can be arrested for ethnic slurs.  Some in the US are saying that “climate change deniers” should be arrested and oil companies should be sued because they “knew” their products would cause climate change.

Second Amendment:

Propaganda:   No amendment is under heavier public attack than this amendment, even though self defense it a fundamental human right.  It’s in common law because historically only the un-free (prisoners, serfs, slaves) were denied the right to protect themselves and their families.  We hear anti-gun propaganda everywhere, much of it funded by billionaires who are surrounded by armed bodyguards.  Their message: “be rich or be dead”.  They blame the NRA for Chicago violence, not the gang members doing the shooting.  They make their case with bogus logic that anyone who has learned how to think can spot as invalid.  Any criminal act is the act of a person, not an object.

Legal Action:  In addition to funding propaganda campaigns, billionaire Mike Bloomberg spends millions to buy local elections for anti-gun candidates who will then enact restrictive laws.  The result is a confusing patchwork system of laws that turn honest people into criminals while doing nothing to stop crime.  Liberal San Francisco’s laws are so tough that the last legal gun shop had to close, yet they did nothing to stop an illegal immigrant with a stolen gun from murdering an innocent young woman.  Chicago’s tough gun laws can’t stop the endless gang wars that have made it the murder capital of the US. The latest effort to drive gun makers out of business is to attempt to sue them for gun violence.  No company has ever been held liable for criminal use of their products because the company has no control over the consumer.

Taxation:   Everyone has heard Chief Justice Marshall’s statement that “The power to tax is the power to destroy” and liberals know punitive taxes can be used to deny “little people” their rights while preserving “billionaire rights”.  Seattle has a $25 tax on guns, a US territory has a $1000 tax per gun, and Hillary wants a 25% tax on guns (all for more money to squander).  What part of “right” don’t they understand?

Health care:  President Obama and his British-born Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy want to draft doctors into their war on legal gun ownership.  They have decreed that “gun violence” is a public health problem (but gang violence isn’t) so doctors should question patients about gun ownership, presumably to then evaluate their mental fitness to own a firearm while simultaneously creating a national gun registry in those digitized medical records.  Since doctors don’t get “gun violence” training (they don’t get knife or fist violence training either) they’ll be fed the far left agenda and sent out on a mission to declare as many people “mentally unfit” as possible (it’s already happening at the VA).  That won’t work on doctors who are also hunters but it will on many.  The answer is “no”.

Intimidation:  I discuss the DOJ’s “Operation Choke Point” under the Fifth Amendment.

SCOTUS:  In the case “D.C. vs. Heller” the Supreme Court upheld the right of honest people to own a firearm for self defense.  Progressives would love to get this ruling overturned.  That would effectively repeal the Second Amendment.

Fourth and Fifth Amendments:

Legal Action:  The fourth Amendment protects private property from unreasonable search and seizure without due process.  The fifth Amendment protects individuals from being deprived of “life, liberty, and property” without due process.  Government departments are using often dubious tactics to deprive people of their property without adjudication.  Here are two of them.

The IRS can seize bank assets of individuals or businesses if they suspect small deposits are being “structured” to avoid reporting requirements of amounts in excess of $10,000.  They don’t need any evidence of criminal activity, indictment, trial, or conviction to proceed.  Victims are often small businesses that deposit money regularly just to avoid being a robbery target.  Even innocent people must file an expensive lawsuit to get their money released.

Police can seize property under “civil asset forfeiture” if they suspect criminal activity, and that includes “untainted” assets, i.e., those not associated with the suspected activity.  Again the word is “suspected”; no indictment, trial, or conviction required.  Asset seizure can make it difficult for an accused person to hire attorneys and prepare a defense; a right guaranteed by  the Fifth Amendment.

Eminent Domain:  Eminent domain was included in the Constitution to allow governments at all levels to take private land, with compensation, for public projects that would benefit the community.  The intent was to support construction of roads, bridges, schools, and other public facilities.  That concept has unfortunately been expanded to allow taking of private property for private developments under the guise that they will expand the local tax base.  This “public good ” is nothing but a gift for wealthy developers at the expense of the people.

Intimidation:  The DOJ has initiated a process of intimidation not supported by any law called “Choke Point” to cut off “high risk” businesses from having bank accounts and obtaining credit.  Basically banks are threatened with legal action so they cancel the accounts of many honest businesses that pay taxes and wages.,  High risk businesses include firearms dealers, short term lenders, used car dealers, and adult entertainment.  So, what constitutes “high risk” is determined by politically motivated bureaucrats, not the law.  Congress has been urged to outlaw this practice but liberals support it because it furthers their agenda of control of the people.

Ninth Amendment:

Legal Action:  This amendment protects “unenumerated rights” of the people, i.e., those not specifically guaranteed by the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights.  The most important right that has been asserted under this amendment is the right of privacy.  As the Federal government demands more an more tracking of peoples’ lives privacy is being lost, often in the name of the “common good”.  That is collectivism, the antithesis of what the Constitution stands for.  To make the situation even worse, neither the government nor various private data collection agencies can adequately secure their data against hacking or insider misuse.

Tenth Amendment:

Congress:  This amendment says that all responsibilities not specifically assigned to the Federal government by the Constitution remain with the states or the people.  Congress has been more than happy to de facto repeal this amendment with “one-size-fits-all” programs.  Nothing in the Constitution allows the Federal government to control public schools yet Congress created the Department of Education and has given it unlimited power over the states and parents.  This has allowed billionaire Bill Gates to fund development of Common Core, his vision of an ideal system, and coax the government to enforce it.  Nothing in the Constitution allows the Federal government to use the IRS to enforce health insurance yet it approved the ACA.  All the promises associated with this program were lies: costs will go down, you can keep your doctor, etc.  Even the insurers are losing money on this one.  Rising health care costs are a problem but the ACA does nothing to solve it.

Intimidation:  The Department of Education uses threats of withholding education money from school districts that refuse to comply with it’s directives.  Simply put, it uses our tax dollars against us.

So, that’s the picture, and it isn’t a good one if you value freedom because without rights you are not free.  Can the Bill of Rights be saved?  Yes, but time is running out.  The 2016 elections will pretty much determine whether your children will stand in freedom or kneel in servitude.

 

If you like your rights you can keep them… NOT.

No Bailout! You Asked For It, You got It, Deal With It.

In “The ACA: If You Can’t Fix It, Tax It” I looked at some of the problems with the Affordable Care Act, affectionately called “Obamacare”.  Recent news articles suggest that the situation is even worse than predicted earlier.  Insurance companies lobbied for Obamacare because they saw a potential revenue windfall.  It hasn’t happened, in fact, they’re losing billions of dollars!  A major health insurer has said it will exit most exchanges in 2017, and if it does, other companies  will follow.  Along with the fact that several state insurance co-ops have gone bankrupt this would mean the collapse of Obamacare.

The insurance companies have an alternative, though: a taxpayer bailout.  Give us the money or we’ll walk.  Since Congress must approve such a bailout our lawmakers hold the future of a flawed law in their hands.  Actually the term “bailout” is inaccurate because that term implies a one-time payment.  What would actually be needed is a yearly subsidy because, as long as people get sick, Obamacare won’t be profitable for a private company.  Once taxpayers have to subsidize insurance companies the country would be running a bizarre “multi-payer-with-single-payer-rules” system with executive bonuses thrown in.

So what’s happened?  Enrollment figures aren’t nearly as high as projected.  While insurers expected lots of young healthy enrollees, what they got are older sicker people with high medical expenses.  This is a direct consequence of the socialist “one-size-fits-all” plan.  Many young healthy people want to buy an inexpensive catastrophic illness coverage plan and pay for routine expenses out of pocket.  Such plans aren’t allowed under the ACA.  Many single men don’t understand why they should have to pay for maternity benefits either, since they’re biologically incapable of ever using them, and women don’t see why they should have to pay for PSA tests.  Some families simply can’t afford the combination of high premiums and sky-high deductibles.  Subsidies may lower the policy cost but not the deductibles, which can top $12,000 a year.

All business decisions involve risk.  In this case the insurers bet the wrong way by making a politically expedient but economically bad choice.  Should the taxpayers be put on the hook for multi-year bailouts of for-profit companies?  Should our tax dollars fund executive bonuses?  Is Obamacare “too big to fail”? If you agree that the answers are “NO” tell your senators and representatives “no bailout, not now, not ever”.

If the law is that bad, fix it or flush it.

Pro-this, Anti-that; Whose choice is it?

Labels pigeonhole people, but we love ’em.  Let’s look at the idea of “choice” on both sides of the aisle.

Conservatives who oppose abortion on demand call themselves “pro-life”.   Unless they’re also pacifists, however, “pro-life” is too broad a term and they’re really just “anti-abortion”.  Liberals who support a woman’s right to abortion on demand call themselves “pro-choice”.  That’s too broad a use of the word choice.  They’re really “pro-choice on abortion”, hence simply pro-abortion, right?  They certainly wouldn’t call themselves “anti-life”.

Choice is a freedom word and it’s political opposite is control.  Most “pro-issue” people are actually “pro-choice” on their issue; it’s the “anti” folks who want to restrict everything they don’t like.  While liberals demand choice on abortion they’d rather control and limit choice on everything else.

We’ll start with school choice.  Why do parents line up for hours to register their children for charter and magnet schools, both of which are public schools that operate outside of the mainstream?  Why do they spend money on private schools while paying taxes for public schools?  They want a quality education, discipline, and in some cases values that reflect their own, that’s why.  They realize that “one size fits all” doesn’t work for all, that education and indoctrination are not the same thing, and that dumbing down won’t help the US compete globally.  Fundamentalist religious schools that “don’t teach science” are often used as the example against school choice, but they’re a small part of the private school sector.  Secular private schools and most church-affiliated schools have full science departments and often enviable AP programs.  Clearly many parents are “pro-school-choice”,.

People who are labeled “pro-gun” don’t want to arm anyone who doesn’t want to be armed; they just don’t want their freedom of choice restricted.  The “anti-gun” faction, however has an agenda to restrict that freedom.  Anyone who simply doesn’t like guns simply doesn’t own one.  While both sides argue over interpretation of the 2nd amendment they forget that self defense is a fundamental human right that existed long before the Constitution.

What about health care choice?  Many people can’t keep their choice of plans, doctors, or hospitals, but they can pay more because the ACA is “one-size-fits-all”.  Everyone has access to birth control whether they need it or not, but some have lost access to cancer centers that they need to stay alive.  What’s the point of having world-class treatment centers if they’re only for multimillionaires?

Labels get weirder on the immigration issue.  Except for xenophobes, the majority of people who are labeled “anti-immigration” are actually “pro-legal-immigration”.  They want the immigration process to be fair, equal, and secure for the immigrants and the nation.  Anyone who is “pro-immigration” in the sense of opening our borders to the world doesn’t understand that bringing all the starving people in the world into one country would just create one more starving country.

So, what’s your label?