Monday, October 26, 2009

Congress Will Not Listen On Health Care

It seems that our legislators, despite the thousands who showed up at their town halls to protest such measures, despite the tens of thousands attending other TEA Parties across the nation all year and despite the millions attending various 9/12 rallies, still do not understand the message the American people are sending. The American people want government to resume it’s proper, Constitutional role. For a good example, let’s look at the current healthcare debate.

Our legislators continue to insist that “something must be done” to control healthcare costs and that “something” must involve at least a partial government takeover of our healthcare system. Many of them profess alarm at the anger and opposition they are seeing, but refuse to believe that American citizens are rejecting the entire notion of government run healthcare. They often suggest that those who oppose their legislative attempts to take control of the healthcare system are lacking in compassion. Many of them have referred to large segments of the American population in derogatory terms. It is time for them to wake up.

This debate is not just about healthcare, it is about the foundational principles of this republic. The issue is whether or not we, as individuals, have the right to control our own lives and property and to make our own decisions about our healthcare. Doctors are professionals, providing a service that many times costs more than it should because of a system already filled with intrusive, overbearing, needless, bureaucratic, governmental interference. If our legislators are truly interested in lowering healthcare costs, perhaps they should consider deregulation and tort reform. Perhaps they should allow interstate competition for health insurance companies. In other words, they could consider getting the government out of the way and letting the free market work.

For anyone, least of all our elected officials, to suggest that those who oppose government run healthcare are lacking in compassion, when the question before us as a nation has little or nothing to do with compassion for one’s fellow man, is outrageous. Americans donate more of their time and money to charitable and service efforts than the people of any other nation. As was noted in the Seattle Times in a 2007 article: “Americans give twice as much as the next-most-charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the United States ranked first at 1.7 percent. Britain was next at 0.73 percent, while France, with a 0.14 percent rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany”. Notice that the USA gave more than twice as much as the 2nd place nation.

Government run programs are not known for compassion. Witness Oregon’s response to Barbara Wagener, a woman suffering with lung cancer. The state health plan refused to pay for her cancer drugs, but offered to pay for palliative care, including drugs she could use to commit suicide.

The government is known for corruption and fiscal irresponsibility. The American people are known for compassion and charity.

Listen carefully legislators. Americans as a whole are a compassionate and giving people and we do not want government run healthcare. Americans want the freedom to make our own choices, even if that means we occasionally fail to make good choices. It is not the government’s job to control the choices we make with our freedom, it is the government’s job to make sure we have the freedom to make those choices. The current administration and Congress seem disturbingly unwilling to grant that point, and that is why millions are gathering to peacefully protest the actions of this administration and this Congress.

Belanne Pibal is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

“A Republic - If You Can Keep It”

Those were the words of Benjamin Franklin upon being asked what kind of government the new nation had after the vote was taken to approve the Constitution. Yet, there is very little mention in the mainstream media these days about our republic. Schools for decades have taught that the USA is a democracy so maybe the media and so many of the adults who believe the same thing can be forgiven. However, it is imperative that Americans, as a nation know the difference between a democracy and a republic if we wish to keep our republic.
In a democracy, the majority rules. The majority can vote each other out of house, home and freedom. The majority can vote in sharia law if they want. In a democracy, individuals have very little recourse if they want to go against the will of the majority. That’s one of the reasons our founding fathers declined to make this nation into a democracy. In the words of James Madison, “Democracies have been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.”
How many times have Americans been bombarded by the notion of spreading freedom and democracy to other nations? In reality, we can only spread one, because freedom is incompatible with democracy. You can have one or the other, but not both. If we could spread the American form of government abroad, that would be spreading freedom, but democracy?, no.
So what is a republic? If democracy is so unstable and violent, what is a republic and why is it more desirable than a democracy? The Oxford American dictionary defines a republic as ” A country in which the supreme power is held by the people or their elected representatives or by an elected or nominated president.” That may sound the same as a democracy, but it is not.
In the case of America, it means that the people have approved a Constitution to define the powers of the government. This is one of the reasons why many Americans are upset about the president’s speech to our children. The president is elected to serve America, not to turn our youngest Americans into government servants. In the debate to approve the Constitution in Pennsylvania, one of the delegates, Mr. Wilson stated that the supreme power of the uniquely American form of government resides in the people.
“The truth is, that, in our governments, the supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power remains in the people. As our constitutions are superior to our legislatures, so the people are superior to our constitutions. Indeed, the superiority, in this last instance, is much greater; for the people possess over our constitutions control in act, as well as right.
The consequence is, that the people may change the constitutions whenever and however they please. This is a right of which no positive institution can ever deprive them.”
In a republic, we each have a personal responsibility to oversee and correct the government when it infringes on individual rights. In America, we are to do that by electing people of good character to office - regardless of their party affiliation. And “We the People” retain the right to change those legislators and even the Constitution itself. The supreme power of our government resides with the people, but not in such a way that the majority can run roughshod over the rights of the individual. That is the essential difference between a democracy and a republic. The question before Americans now is still “Can we keep it?”
Belanne Pibal is a Liberty Features Syndicated Writer.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Unclean Bill of Health

I have been submitting columns and op/ed pieces to Liberty Features Syndicate for a few months now, between other duties. I thought sharing those articles here might be a good way to keep this blog working rather than leaving it to posterity. Mr. Morris has no objection and I haven't heard from Mr. Tams and Mr. Schrag on the matter yet. So, without further ado, here is the first column. It was published by LFS on August 25th. My title for this piece was "Liar,Liar, Pants on Fire!", and my original opening a bit more...aggressive -a little too aggressive for the editor, which is why it was published under it's current title. I regard working with an editor as a new learning experience.

With the current proposed health care bill, it is hard to believe how much politicians think they can dupe Americans. After having looked over the proposed bill — HR 3200 — it is a wonder that these people can look straight into a camera and tell such bold faced lies about what is and is not in this bill without regard to the real affect it will have on every American.
And just for the record, the government has no money but that which it receives from taxes. It doesn’t matter if you call it a fee or a separate fund or a fine, the bottom line is: it’s a tax. A tax, by the pertinent definition in the Oxford American Dictionary, is: “a sum of money to be paid by people or business firms to a government, to be used for public purposes.”
So, those in support of this plan can play with semantics all they like, but the American people know where the money is coming from and they don’t want their money used to pay for abortions-period. This bill will result in taxpayer funded abortions.
There are lies about keeping your current doctors and insurance. This Congress must think the population is deficient in math skills and common sense. The fines (taxes) on people and employers for not participating in the government’s plan are prohibitive. Most businesses will simply run the numbers, discover the fee (tax) is cheaper and viola those private plans, the ones people can keep if they like them, will be no more.
There are lies about health care rationing. Has anyone besides whoever wrote them actually read those sections of the bill? The part that outlines how it will be determined whether or not someone is eligible for healthcare and if so, what kind, how much, by what doctor and at what facility? Their solution will be the cost effective means health care rationing. There’s no nicer way to say it. For this program to be affordable, there must be rationing.
There are lies by omission.
Those things that are not being mentioned, such as the fact that all Americans will be required to have their medical histories in a government database whether they want to or not. There is a disturbing lack of comment on the proposed national healthcare card which all Americans will be required to have. A card which will give the government access to our bank accounts as well as our medical histories.
There is also a lack of comment on the fact that there will be no way to dispute the withdrawal of whatever fees the government decides we owe for those services. Does anyone think that, having given the government free access to their finances, such access will not be abused? Please note, this card will be required for everyone, not just those in the government plan.
Then there is the biggest lie of all; that Congress has the authority to take over the nation’s healthcare industry in this manner. This proposal goes far beyond the enumerated powers of Congress in the U.S. Constitution. The states could implement this type of program on their own, as Mass. and Maine have already done, but Congress has no authority to impose this type of legislation on the country as a whole.
Belanne Pibal is a guest contributing writer for Liberty Features Syndicate.