Personality and health care *UPDATED*

I was thinking about government care today, not in terms of dollars and cents, but in terms of the human factor.  Government health care imagines that all people will respond to situations in the same way, both physically and emotionally.  But that’s not how people are.

The medicine that makes one person feel wonderful has another person retching miserably — yet government health care usually comes complete with a limited list of available medications.  While one person responds fabulously to a procedure, another may get no benefit at all — yet government health care, in the interests of efficiency, always ends up dialing down the available range of health care options.

And then there are the personalities.  I’m not even talking about the bad habits, whether smoking, drug abuse, too much chocolate, etc.  I’m talking about people’s fundamental beliefs about their own health.

One sweet old lady I know is a true hypochondriac, constantly searching for the next illness.  Bundled in with that emotional baggage are genuine health problems, so that the doctors always have to take her complaints seriously.  She costs her insurance company a staggering fortunate.

Another sweet old lady I know is in complete denial, and that’s true despite her genuine health problems.  Because she refuses to deal with symptoms as they arise, everything with her is serious by the time she gets to the emergency room.  She also costs her insurance company a staggering fortune.

I don’t see how government health care which, in the absence of competition, inevitably boils down to one-size-fits-all treatments, fixes the problems inherent with these (and so many other) personality types.  This is going to be especially true with an aging population, when there are going to be increasing numbers of charmingly eccentrinc sweet old ladies and dear old men.

As you have probably guessed, today I had a run in with the health care system and a sweet little old person.  The health care provided was humane, thoughtful — and, but for the personalities involved, should have been unnecessary.

I’m tired, grumpy, and treating myself to my own drug of choice:  chocolate ice cream and the love of a good dog.

UPDATEThis article about Donald Berwick, whom Obama chose to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services perfectly describes how America is being pushed into the “patients as cogs” model.  The premise is that Berwick is completely in love with Britain’s National Health Service (something with which those enrolled in and suffer from the NHS might disagree):

Berwick has called NHS a “global treasure,” saying he is “a romantic about NHS. I love it.” It’s no coincidence that this centrally planned, government-run health care system appeals to a Harvard-educated pediatrician who views patients not as individuals, but as members of collective “units of concern” defined by age, disease or socioeconomic status. Berwick has criticized the use of new life-saving technologies and wants non-physician “primary care providers” to ration care by controlling access to specialists and diagnostic tests to reduce each “unit’s” per-capita costs. He has also characterized aggressive interventions in terminally ill patients as “assaults,” not heroic attempts to extend their lives.

This is a radical departure from the focus on individual patients and their private relationship with doctors of their choice that have made American medicine the best in the world. And while Berwick was among the first to introduce industrial-style quality controls in 3,000 American hospitals, which by all accounts has been a huge success in improving patient care, his rigidly ideological view that America’s health system should mimic Britain’s NHS is inimical to the preservation of individual freedom and high-quality care. His nomination should be decisively rejected by the Senate. Americans live longer, healthier lives than Brits precisely because government bureaucrats have not been in charge of their health care for the past 60 years. If confirmed by the Senate, Berwick will define that quality down to British standards. That would not be choosing well.

The problem, of course, as my experiences yesterday showed — and as every socialist experiment in the world proves — individuals are not cogs.  The only way to treat them as such is to dehumanize them to the point at which the unthinkable — mass murder — eventually becomes thinkable.  That is, I don’t think any socialist regime every starts out intending to commit mass murder.  It just eventually makes sense when the cogs won’t cooperate.

Watcher’s Council submissions for June 30, 2010

I’m still doing paying work (woo-hoo!), so won’t be blogging this morning.  However, there’s so much to read out there, what with the Kagan hearings (and did you hear how she changed scientific information to make it comport with her political beliefs?); Obama’s 70th day decision to allow foreign aid in the Gulf (although that won’t help given the fact that federal agencies have blocked every effort so far to stop the damage); and increased speculation about Israel bombing Iran’s nuclear reactors (the fall-out of which should be interesting, no pun intended).

What’s also out there to read is the current week’s submissions at the Watcher’s Council.  (Also, I highly recommend visiting the Watcher’s Council blogs directly.  They’re wonderful.)

Council Submissions

Non Council Submissions

      Two serious storm warnings, one national, and one local *UPDATE*

      There are two storm warnings I want to give you, one of which requires action on your part, the other of which, depending on where you live, falls into the “sit, watch, and thank God you’re far away” category.

      First warning:  Drastic cuts to the military, courtesy of Bawney Fwank, that noted military expert.  (And yes, I am being incredibly sarcastic describing him as such.)  The Navy Times provides some details:

      Cut two carriers and 40 percent of new ballistic-missile subs, then slash the fleet to 230 ships and eight air wings. Terminate the F-35, Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and V-22 Osprey. Drop down to six expeditionary strike groups, eliminate the maritime prepositioning force and place greater emphasis on surging smaller naval groups as needed.

      These are but some of the eyebrow-raising recommendations provided to Congress on June 10 by the Sustainable Defense Task Force. The group was formed at the request of Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Walter B. Jones, R-N.C.; and Ron Paul, R-Texas; and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The task force proposal amounts to $1.1 trillion in defense cuts over 10 years. Slightly more than half of that amount comes from personnel budgets; the rest comes by cutting research, development and procurement of weapons systems.

      And that’s just cuts to the Navy.  As I understand it, the proposals are far-reaching, and involve drastic cuts to every aspect of our military.

      I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea how the military feels about these cuts.  Maybe they worked with this committee, and honestly tried to trim out deadwood made unnecessary by technological advances.  However, given the committee’s composition, and given the Navy Times own raised eyebrows, I have a suspicion that the military might be less than sanguine about those suggestions, especially given that the world’s bad guys, seeing a weak man in the White House, are acting up like crazy (that would be Iran, Russia, Venezuela, China, the Norks, Syria, etc, etc, etc).

      Given my suspicion that the military may have its own ideas about the virtue of these cuts, and the coming storm they may bring about, it occurred to me that concerned citizens might want to make sure that groups that have the military’s interests at heart are sufficiently funded to make their presence known on Capitol Hill.  As you know, my pet group is the Navy League, a non-profit organization dedicated, in significant part, to “foster[ing] and maintain[ing] interest in a strong Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine as integral parts of a sound national defense and vital to the freedom of the United States.”

      As I said, the proposed cuts may still leave us with a “strong” military as part of a sound defense for a free United States, but, well, I’m just not so sure.  I therefore urge you to join the Navy League or, if you have a pet military organization that provides a voice for the military before Congress, by all means, send money to that organization.

      The second storm warning is for Oakland, California, residents.  If you remember the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, you might want to batten down the hatches in case similar rioting strikes in Oakland.  Here’s the problem, as Zombie describes it:

      Nearly everyone in the Bay Area agrees that a major Oakland riot is brewing if the verdict in the trial of policeman Johannes Mehserle, accused of murdering BART passenger Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day, 2009, comes back anything other than “GUILTY!” The problem for Oakland’s sense of security is that Mehserle is almost certainly not guilty of murder, and the jury is likely to give him a comparatively light sentence or even let him go completely.

      You should, of course, read Zombie’s entire article, which goes to the impending lawlessness in Oakland, a city on the verge of cutting 80 positions from its active duty police officers.

      UPDATED:  It doesn’t quite belong here, but since there is a storm brewing in the Gulf, this seems like the best place to put Ace’s post about the way in which overreaching government bureaucracy destroys all functioning.  One of the stepping stones on my journey across the Rubicon to conservatism was Phillip K. Howard’s The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America, in which he describes the way in which government bureaucracy, by aiming for some elusive perfection and by working to keep itself funded, destroys efficiency, innovation, and basic functionality.

      A challenge to us all to renew the philosemitic paradigm in America

      Stand With Us is an extraordinarily important organization.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  Its goal is to counter the calumnies that an unholy union of Leftists and Islamists spread against Israel, especially on college campuses.

      The Stand With Us founders realized something that American Jews and other friends of Israel had missed completely:  while most kids, Jewish and non-Jewish, go to college to get educated and have fun (not necessarily in that order), a certain sector of Muslim students goes to college, not for education and fun, but to delegitimize the State of Israel.

      Delegitimization is not a sideline or a hobby.  This is the main goal.  On college campuses, the vehicle for this goal, usually, is the Muslim Student Union (“MSU”).  Outside of college, CAIR dedicates itself to the same full-time principle.

      Here’s a useful analogy, especially if you’ve lived through teenagers.  You are a busy person.  You have a job, a household to run, obligations to your community, and children to raise.  Your teenager is not a busy person.  Oh, sure, he or she attends school and has some extracurricular activities, but they’re just side issues to the teenager’s main goal:  getting what he or she wants.

      So if your teenager wants a new pair of ridiculously expensive shoes, that is what will occupy your teenager’s every waking thought.  And your teenager will let you know that.  You will never hear the end of the shoes.  While you’re trying to finish a major project, run errands, cook dinner, clean house and manage the carpools, all that your teenager is saying is “I want those shoes.  I want those shoes.  I want those shoes.”

      Those Muslims dedicated to Israel’s destruction are precisely the same — they eat, sleep, live and breath destroying Israel.  They are completely dedicated and well-funded.  (We’ll just guess where that money comes from, right?)  And for about 30 years, they’ve been the only voice heard, especially in the higher education world.  When they set up their tables on campus malls, Jewish kids and other friends of Israel walked by them in disgust, but pretty much ignored them.  They were pernicious, but who really cared, right?  After all, there are final exams next week and parties this week.

      But just as a drop of water can wear away a rock, the relentless anti-Israel messaging has had an effect on those who know nothing about Israel.  The know-nothings are the vacuums that the MSU and CAIR has been filling.

      Filling this vacuum has been especially easy on campus because college professors are so often Marxists, and the Marxists have made common cause with the Islamists.  Each for their own reasons wants Israel and traditional Western values gone.  When they’ve achieved that goal, then they’ll fight over the spoils.  This means that college students — young, uninformed, malleable, and encouraged to be open to new ideas — are being filled with anti-Israel bile, within the classroom, on the campus plazas, and inside of the meeting rooms and dormitories.

      As for whether the anti-Israel bile shades into old-fashioned antisemitism, look at what the MSU, CAIR, and their allies, both Muslim and Leftist say, and you will see, over and over and over, the signs of antisemitism that Natan Sharansky has helpfully spelled out:  demonization, delegitimization, and double-standards.  Those factors appear on every campus, in every Leftist march, and at every U.N. gathering.

      Which brings me back to Stand With Us:  This organization aims to fill that 30 year old vacuum.  By providing students from all over the world with pro-Israel facts, by training them to stand up to a fact-devoid but hate-filled argument, and by giving them mountains of attractive, easy-to-read, and fact-filled written materials, Stand With Us is fighting back.

      If you believe in Israel’s legitimacy, and her right to survive as a nation among nations, then you should donate to Stand With Us.  (You’ll find contact information here.)  If you believe that Israel’s and America’s fates are tied together, not because of some nefarious Jewish lobby, but because both are truly the last bulwarks in the world of true democracy and individual liberty against onslaughts by Leftism and Islamism, then you should donate to Stand With Us.  If you believe that freedom of speech means that the truth should be heard, then you should donate to Stand With Us.

      But I have another challenge for you, one that isn’t just about giving money to what has become the premier organization in the world for countering anti-Israel slanders.  I want you to help me change the American zeitgeist, which has become very hostile to Jews.  This means, of course, changing America’s popular culture.  I’ve written before about the fact that I came of age in the post-WWII era when Jews were admired.  Israelis were seen as plucky Davids, and Jews at home were seen as wise, funny and principled.

      That’s changed so much.  Israel is now seen as a rapacious, repressive, apartheid-style, genocidal nation.  And Jews — well, Jews support that regime, so how good can they be?

      Worse than that, the Jews we see in popular culture, the Jews that Hollywood promotes, are not nice people.  Larry David is truly a brilliant comic mind, but his show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, presents an extraordinarily loathsome individual:  self-centered, insensitive, demanding, cheap, malicious, etc.

      David is not an anomaly.  The most popular Jewish comedienne, and another one with her own show, is Sarah Silverman:  vindictive, vicious, anti-Christian, and neurotic.  Oh, and how about Jon Stewart?  He’s neurotic, anti-Christian, hostile to traditional American values, exceptionally foul-mouthed, etc.

      These are the Jews that the mid-West sees.  No more long-suffering, wise and kind George Burns; no more silly Milton Berle; no more wildly talented Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, or Jerome Kern; no more hapless Jack Benny.

      I’m not asking you all to become movie stars.  I am thinking, however, about the fact that the next generation, my kids’ generation, gets the world through entertainment media.  To change the paradigm for that generation, how about a rockin’ song that manages to interweave Israel’s 3,000 year old connection to Jerusalem?  How about an awesome video game, a la Call of Duty, that has IDF soldiers hunting down Ahmadinejad?  How about a warm-fuzzy comedy, which has an old-fashioned Hollywood Jew, wise and funny, rather than neurotic and mean-spirited?

      Adam Sandler was on the right track when he did You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, a movie about a wildly talented Israeli Special Forces fighter who really wanted to be a hairdresser, but it was too gross to gain enough traction.  So far the only other thing Hollywood has managed to do recently about Israeli goals and fighters was Munich, in which Spielberg managed to make Israel look evil for bringing mass murderers to justice.  Spielberg gets great kudos for his Holocaust work, but it’s pretty clear that his interest in Jewish well-being ends with 1945.

      So, if you have any type of talent, or if you know someone who does (I don’t, and I don’t), Israel needs your help.  It’s not enough to educate the people in the vacuum aware of the facts.  We need to make them care about the facts — and that’s done by changing the pop culture paradigm.  So, to borrow a perfect pop culture phrase:  JUST DO IT.

      The problem is Washington, D.C. — by guestblogger Sally Zelikovsky

      [Note from Bookworm:  As of now, the video embed of Pete Stark you’ll see in the post below has only 97 hits.  It should have a million hits.  Pete Stark is, and always has been, an exceptionally nasty piece of work.  However, Democratic acts in Washington make it clear that what he says is what they think.  Also, please note his disdain and dislike for the people he represents and for Americans in general.  And now, back to Sally….]

      Do you doubt whether or not your representatives are listening to you?

      Do you question their sincerity in doing their job?

      Do you wonder if they truly understand what their responsibilities are in representing their districts in Washington DC?

      Do you suspect that your representative has nothing but disdain for the average American citizen?

      Do you hear rumors about representatives maligning and mocking their constituents, not taking them seriously and being woefully misinformed on the issues important to every day Americans, the guys and gals on Main Street?

      If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then watch this representative in action and see for yourself, firsthand, what Washington DC thinks of you.

      The problem is not Main Street or Wall Street.  It’s Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill!

      [Bookworm here again:  For those of you who don’t know who Sally Zelikovsky is, especially those of you who are Bay Area conservatives, please check out the Bay Area Patriots website, which is her baby — and a lovely baby it is.]

      The difference between loving and hating

      Last week, Townhall Magazine came out with a fun list of the 100 Americans it believes the Left hates most.  You’ll recognize almost every name, as each person mentioned is a prominent conservative.

      David Swindle, who manages David Horowitz’s News Real Blog, realized something, however:  Townhall‘s algorithm seemed to be based a bit more on popularity with the Right, than on fear from the Left.  That is, the editors assumed that, if conservatives like someone, than liberals will hate that same person.  That’s a damn good standard, but there’s even a better one:  Which people does the Left fear most?  David Swindle has put together that list too.

      A leftist guide to mis-defining terms when it comes to Kagan

      The American Prospect has written a little guide for its readers explaining why Republican attacks will fall off Kagan like eggs off Teflon.  You and I know that they won’t matter because of the Democratic majority, and maybe the American Prospect knows that too, because its defense is lazy.  One aspect of the defense, however, caught my eye, and I wanted to share it with you:

      She’s an activist.

      Republicans have pointed to two things — Kagan’s clerkships for Thurgood Marshall and liberal judge Abner Mikva, and her admiration for Israeli Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak, whom she praised as a “judicial hero” — as evidence that she is a judicial activist who tailors her reading of the law to whatever result she wants to achieve. Criticism of Marshall, though, isn’t likely to take Republicans very far. As the first African American on the court, he’s a largely unimpeachable figure. Democrats will also note that some conservatives have expressed admiration for Barak, including Justice Antonin Scalia, the current intellectual leader of the conservative wing of the court.

      This kind of criticism would offer an opportune moment for Kagan to provide a liberal rebuttal to John Roberts’ hollow conceit about judges merely calling balls and strikes.

      The Democratic response, though, will likely be a simple one. In terms of overturning precedent, this court is the most activist one ever produced. This may be effective, but it also reinforces the conservative canard that judges simply interpret the law as written rather than resolve the inherent and inevitable tensions between the principles and obligations outlined in the Constitution.

      There are three arguments there.  The first argument is that, simply because Marshall was the first black Supreme Court Justice, nobody can criticize his approach to judicial interpretation.  It’s a closed subject. This is not an argument, of course.  It’s the absence of argument.

      The second argument is that the mere fact that Barak may have admirable traits means that he is off limits for criticism when it comes to his approach to judicial interpretation.  Again, this is simply a way of preventing intellectual discourse, and shutting down argument ab initio.

      The third and final argument is that, because Roberts’ court is the most activist ever, no one can criticize Kagan on the ground that she might be an “activist.”  It’s this argument that intrigues me, because it shows how differently Lefties and Righties view the notion of judicial activism.

      When conservatives think of activist judges, they think of judges who, at their core, are unconcerned with the limits the United States Constitution places on both federal and state governments in their relationship to the individual citizen.  Their decisions are decided by references to natural law, and penumbras, and African tribal decisions, and Israeli Supreme Court decisions, and emanations and emotions.  The Constitution, if it makes an appearance at all, is folded, spindled and mutilated into meaninglessness (there are those penumbras and emanations).

      To the conservative mind, the anti-Constitutional bent of decisions made by liberal, or activist, judges, means that, to the extent a prior judicial decision violates Constitutional restrictions, that decision is invalid, and should be overruled.  In other words, merely because a case exists, it is not automatically valid precedent.  If the case was void ab initio, overruling the decision isn’t activism; it is, instead, a corrective act to reinstate Constitutional limitations on government.

      To the Left, however, “activism” means any decision that overturns liberal precedent — even if that precedent is, in and of itself, unconstitutional.  It’s therefore no wonder the Left is dismayed by the fact that the Roberts court is tidying up the record and reversing preexisting cases enacted by activist judges.

      The relative value of actors *UPDATED*

      I already mentioned how impressed I was by Ronald Reagan’s 1964 speech, which I posted here, and listed to in its entirety while folding laundry.  Listening to Reagan made that task go much faster.  It’s a fabulous speech, with each idea — most of which are as relevant today re government spending, individual freedom, and threats from abroad as they were in 1964 — beautifully developed and presented.

      The speech is a great reminder that, in a pre-MTV era, in a day before spin and sound bytes, people could develop ideas.  Theoretically, they still can, but no one has the patience to listen.  My kids, who are bright enough, have a 3 second attention span.  If you haven’t caught their interest in that time, give up.

      But that’s not actually the point I want to make.  I want to make a different point, about the insults that emanate from the Left (by which I really mean the media) when a credible conservative candidate appears on the scene.

      I was three when Reagan made his speech.  I was still relatively young when he was governor.  This means that my first real memories of him involve his presidency.  One of the things I remember most vividly from that time is the fact that one of the “worst” insults routinely hurled at him by the media and other self-styled intellectuals on the Left was that he was an actor.  That meant, prima facie, that he was stupid.  Up until the end of the Reagan presidency, “actor” and “stupid” were cross-referenced in the Leftist dictionary.

      That all changed with Clinton, when Hollywood went hog wild for a president, and he reciprocated that love.  In today’s media world, actors who are seen as credible voices on the political scene, opining on talk shows, in the news, before Congress, in the Lincoln bedroom, and at pricey White House parties.

      What one discovers each time most of them speaks is that enough of them are so stupid that one is forced to conclude that, subject to a few exceptions (Reagan, Kevin Costner, and Gary Sinese, to name just three), actors really are singularly unsuited to opine on political issues.  If you check out the fun at Big Hollywood, you’ll get to see regularly the imbalance between intelligence and lack of intelligence when it comes to the Hollywood crew, with the scales weighing heavily on the unintelligent side.

      UPDATE:  Two perfect examples from the entertainment area:  Sheryl Crow and Janeane Garofalo — both arrogant, ignorant and, quite possibly, delusional.

      Just Because Music — Johnny Mercer and the “G.I. Jive”

      My daughter, who is not in camp this week, is listening to her bubblegum pop music in the background as she organizes her closet.  I am reminded of one of my pet peeves with modern music:  the lyrics are utterly lacking.  They lack imagination, they lack charm, they lack wit, they lack wisdom, they lack romance.  They just drone on and on and on about teenage suffering.  BOOOORING.

      As the antidote to that kind of brain-cell sucking music, I present you with Johnny Mercer’s G.I.Jive:

      Paying work Open Thread

      The recession has been a mixed blessing for me.  On the one hand, I’ve had almost no work.  And on the other hand, I’ve had almost no work.  You see, while I miss the income, it’s been an incredible relief to have some time.  My family keeps me plenty busy, and I was just running out of steam when the recession hit.  Since my clients’ work vanished, mine did too, and I breathed something between a mere sigh and a sigh of relief last year.

      Things are starting to perk up a little, though, and for economic reasons, I need to jump on the legal work that’s coming my way.  I’d still prefer to blog, not work, but there are bills to pay, and I need to keep my legal mind in fighting trim.

      I’ll get back to the blog later today (God willing).  Also, tonight I’m going to a symposium about the new antisemitism, and I may have stuff to report about that tomorrow.

      Until then, please enjoy yourself here.  Suggested topics:

      1. Byrd’s death (may he RIP, and I hope for his sake that God’s not black);
      2. Obama’s leveler attempts at the G20 (God forbid America should recover unless all the other places recover equally);
      3. the Supreme Court’s wonderful gun rights decision (made possible by only one vote); and
      4. the Kagan hearings (speaking of that “made possible by only one vote”).

      Britain’s NHS to suffer drastic cuts

      In a market economy, the marketplace drives the availability of goods and services.  If there’s a big demand, the market will create a big supply; if the demand dries up, so does supply, as the market sends its resources elsewhere.

      Supply and demand, however, have no place in government controlled sectors of the economy.  Although Britons are getting sick in the same numbers they have in past years, because the government is broke, so is the National Health Service, and the supply of medical care is swiftly vanishing:

      Thousands of doctors and nurses face being made redundant or not replaced if they leave, while many hospitals have cut treatments, the British Medical Association has found.

      Despite ministers’ assurances that the health service would not face the same cuts as other departments, many hospitals are feeling the strain, according to the BMA.

      Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has boasted that frontline services would be protected. But it emerged yesterday that in his Cambridge constituency, Addenbrooke’s Hospital is planning to sack 170 nurses and up to 500 staff in total over the next year.

      Read the rest here.

      Unless ObamaCare can be stopped — and that’s a big “unless” — reading the preceding paragraph means that you’re looking at America’s future, one in which goods and services are made available to the public, not on the basis of the public’s need, but on the basis of the government’s efficiency and solvency.  If you’re not worried, you are very optimistic person or a fool.

      Maggie Thatcher got it:  “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess.  They always run out of other people’s money.”