The collected (nit)wit and (un)wisdom of Bernie Sanders

My Progressive friends are flooding my Facebook feed with posters dedicated to what they perceive as the “wit and wisdom” of avowed socialist and Democrat Party candidate Bernie Sanders.  I thought I’d take a look at what passes for intelligence from Bernie Sanders and his acolytes on the Left.  My comments are below each poster.  Please feel free to chime and, most definitely, to correct me if I’m wrong:

Bernie Sanders on childhood poverty

You’ll constantly see Bernie use this type of “cause” and “effect” rhetoric.  To Bernie, too many millionaires and billionaires equals poor children.  In this, he is just as sophisticated as the Climate Changistas who attribute every weather event and every societal wrong to climate change.

Here’s the reality about those poverty stricken children, and it has nothing to do with the Koch Brothers (who are Bernie’s favorite bête noire and scapegoat).  In a free(ish) market system, there is one sure way to become financially secure:  study, marry, and have children, in that order.  If you skip studying (and this is true no matter how useless America’s higher education system is), you’re less likely to have money.  And if you skip marriage on your way to children, you’ve virtually consigned those children to poverty:

A dramatic rise in unwed births and the accompanying decline in marriage are the most important cause of child poverty in the United States. As Chart 1 shows, in 2009, 37.1 percent of single-parent families with children in the U.S. were poor. In the same year, only 6.8 percent of married couples with children were poor. Single-parent families were nearly six times more likely to be poor than were married families.

[snip]

The overwhelming majority of poor families with children in the U.S. are not married. (Overall, a third of all families with children at all income levels are not married.) But a staggering 71 percent of all poor families with children are unmarried. By contrast, married couples comprise only around 29 percent of poor families with children. (See Chart 2.)

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The Bookworm Beat 8-15-15 — Found It On Facebook edition, with stuff both dumb and smart

People seemed to enjoy my last foray into Leftist posters, all of which I found on Facebook, courtesy of Leftie friends. I thought, though, that after subjecting you to the insanity, I’d also include some smart snark from the sane side of the political spectrum. First, though, the crazy stuff, with my comments (if any) following each image:

It's not Obama's fault

I find amusing this defense of Obama’s myriad failures — that Republicans have been obstructing him — considering that (a) Obama owned all of Congress for the first two years of his administration and (b) Boehner and McConnell have been his lap dogs for the last seven plus years.

Australian hates Republicans

I include the above as an example of the incisive political analysis that characterizes the Left.  When people are this ignorant about economics, it suddenly becomes understandable that they are perfectly happy to bypass the collective wisdom of the marketplace and to invest all of their faith in a government bureaucracy.

Bernie's college idea

And speaking of economic ignorance, Bernie continues to amaze.  I haven’t been able to find a wonderful poster making the rounds on the Left in which Bernie expresses bewilderment that student loans charge higher interest than mortgages.  He seems unclear on the whole concept of security.  If I don’t pay back my mortgage, the bank at least gets to keep my house, which may have some value to offset my default.  However, when the gal with a major in Womyn’s Studies and a minor in Gender-free Puppetry defaults on her $200,000 student loan from Smith, the taxpayers are left with nothing.  There is no value there to offset the default.  And Bernie just can’t seem to grasp that when the risk is higher, so is the cost.

Oh, and about those tuition-free four-year colleges in Europe. . . .  When I was in England, probably around 20% of English students went on to college.  Nowadays, the average seems to float around 30%.  In America, almost 70% of graduating students go on to some form of higher education.  In other words, more than twice as many students in egalitarian America go on to college as to those in still-class-bound Britain.

In addition, American colleges and universities have become grotesquely expensive, in large part because infusions of federal monies over the past thirty or more years have created a tuition inflation far in excess of the inflation rate in the rest of America.  The way in which schools teach calculus probably hasn’t changed over the years, but the necessity of a vast bureaucracy dedicated to lesbians, and another vast bureaucracy dedicated to women, and yet another for blacks, and one more for Hispanics, and a whole hierarchy for disabled people, and this “free” education has taxpayers funding, not education, but a hard-Left propaganda machine that is desperate to get its tentacles into every young person in America.

Once that happens, all of America will be like a college campus.  This doesn’t mean that Americans will be learning things and basking in new experiences.  It means that Americans will be living a Kafka-esque nightmare of political correctness, the tyranny of microaggression claims and trigger warnings, virulent attacks on men in an effort to destroy them, etc.  I don’t want to fund that.  Do you?

Bernie's anti-war position

There are a lot of Bernie posters populating my Leftie friends’ Facebook pages, so I don’t have to hear the man speak to get an idea about his idiocy.  In a world with ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other forms of radical Islam, is he really prepared to head a government that de-funds defense?  Obama has already weakened America’s defense almost to the breaking point.  Sanders, idealistic to the point of moronic stupidity, seems to want to finish the job, with our only defense against militant ISIS being his plaintive 1960s cry to “give peace a chance.”

Even worse than the fact that Bernie is mouthing this type of idiocy is the fact that so many of my friends — all of whom are college educated incidentally — think this is a great idea.

Leftists don't understand religious freedom

In other words, according to the Left, freedom of religion means that you are totally free to be religious in the privacy of your home and within the four walls of your house of worship.  Otherwise, to the extent religion informs your values, you are a theocratic dictator in the making and you’d better shut up and shut up good.

I’ve tried to tell my Leftie friends that, if they had imposed this view of religious freedom on America in the 19th century, we’d still have slavery, child labor, the 7 day/80 work week, child brides, etc.  America’s greatest humanist strides came when people of faith applied those teachings to the world around them.

DeGrasse pretends to be a scientist

The asterisk to that statement, of course, is that “It’s OK to change your opinion based on the newest evidence* . . . *unless that evidence proves definitively that the whole anthropogenic climate change mania is built upon theories that have been proven invalid every time they’ve had the opportunity to play out in real time.”  Challenge AGW, and suddenly Tyson is all about “shut your mouth.”

Insanity in voting for a third Bush

Okay — even though I found this on a Leftie Facebook page, I have to agree with it.  Even Lefties can be correct occasionally.

Planned Parenthood services for men

Here’s my rebuttal to the above poster:

Planned Parenthood

 

Yes, my poster attacks the Left’s War on Women meme, but the argument is the same assuming it’s true that Planned Parenthood provides healthcare services for men:  Now that we have ObamaCare, why do we still need to pass extra Federal funds on to Planned Parenthood?  Isn’t that double-funding the organization.  With ObamaCare, it becomes apparent that the only reason to fund Planned Parenthood is to pay for abortions which, theoretically, aren’t supposed to be part of ObamaCare’s funding.

Bernie Sanders calls for socialized medicine

Leftists are stuck in a perpetual time warp.  The reason the rest of the industrialized world had free health care is that, for the entirety of the Cold War, America took care of the military costs for all those “free” health care nations.  That was really nice of us, but it left us with less money for such self-indulgent things as “free” medical care that was actually funded by America.

In addition, medical care in the rest of the world sucks.  Sure, everyone can see a doctor for free, but you might have to wait so long you die or, if you finally do see a doctor, the care is so bad you might as well have died waiting.  In other words, the rest of the world gets the same kind of care we foist on our Veterans at the Veterans Administration.

And now, a few words and posters from sane people, none of which need any further comments:

Navy SEAL job interview

Colorado River on EPA

EPA pollution and liberal hypocrisy

Separate church and state when state is your church

Party of old white people

Sexual consent double standards

 

Hillary and the server

McCarthy on guns

Hey, Sweden! How’s that open immigration and PC-multiculturalism working out in your faux-socialist land?

swedish-rape-victimI was cruel to a young Swede the other day when, without being at all rude, I told him unpleasant, unnerving truths about his country. First, I told him that his country never really had socialized medicine. Instead, it had “paid for by America” medicine. During the Cold War, Sweden was able to put aside a nation’s first obligation to its citizens, which is to defend it against foreign enemies, when America took on that role. With the money freed from defense, Sweden could have pretend socialized medicine.

The second thing I told him is that Sweden never had real socialism. (Yes, I’m sure this is a shocker to many of you, because Sweden is considered the ultimate socialist success story.) The reality, though, is that Sweden never truly had an all-powerful central government. That anomaly is due to something sui generis about the Scandinavian countries: In the years after WWII these countries were small, racially homogeneous, and comprised of citizens all of whose minds had the identical values. This meant that Sweden’s socialism was more of a societal collaboration. It never needed the strong arm necessary for socialization in countries lacking any one of those specific and unique factors.

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Socialized medicine and passive-aggressive genocide

China Earthquake

Long ago in China, a boy coming home from school met up with his father, who was carrying on his back a basket holding the boy’s grandfather.

“Oh, father,” asked the boy, “where are you taking Honorable Grandfather?”

The father signaled that the boy should come closer, and then whispered in his ear, “I’m taking grandfather up to the waterfall. If I throw him over the edge suddenly, death will greet him so quickly, it will be painless.”

Aghast, the boy asked, “Why would you do that to Honorable Grandfather?”

“Because I must,” his father whispered back. “Honorable grandfather is too old to help in the field or around the house. Instead, he just sits in the corner, eating our food, drinking our tea, and requiring us to care for his needs. A quick, painless death will be better for everyone.”

The son nodded sagely upon hearing his father’s words. Then, as he turned to continue the walk home, the boy reminded his father of one thing. “Dear father, please make sure to bring the basket back, because I’ll need it for you one day.”

Although I was only around 12 when I first read that story, it resonated with me. Aside from admiring the boy’s cleverness, I was so grateful that I didn’t live in a country in which poor people had to make those kinds of choices. I didn’t realize back then that it would take a mere forty years for my country to creep ever closer to justifying the genocide of the old and the sick.  Even more ironically, I didn’t realize that this ugly choice would come about, not because individual poor people could no longer afford to care for their elders, but because our own government has decided that the nation as a whole should no longer care for its old people.

Old people certainly requiring a lot of care. With every passing year, our bodies become more fragile. While we love seeing videos showing very old people doing amazing physical feats, the reality for most people is that the journey to old age is marked by one bodily system after another breaking down. Our skin’s breakdown is the most immediately demoralizing (“I look so old”), but the real damage from aging happens under our skin, as our joints, muscles, and internal organs just stop working very well. Eventually, every cold has the potential for pneumonia; every fall has the potential to end in a broken hip; every chest pain could be a heart attack; and the joint pains that slowed us down in our 50s can render us immobile by our 70s.

Modern medicine, thankfully, can do a lot to ward off some of aging’s worst effects. Putting aside plastic surgery, which heals the spirit not the body, modern medicine offers everything from quick diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia; to hip repairs so effective that the old person can be home in a day or two, rather than confined to a wheelchair or hospital bed for weeks; to an amazing array of heart treatments, whether pills, pacemakers, bypasses, or transplants; and joint fixes that range from pills, to shots, to surgery, to replacement. All of these are the wonders and miracles of the modern age . . . and all of them are very expensive.

If you’re a free market person, you think that the way to address the expense is through the market place. If you had your way, you would allow insurance companies to compete nation-wide for customers, without thousands of micromanaging regulations but, instead, subject only to a few reasonable anti-fraud regulations.  You would also loosen the FDA’s shackles a bit, recognizing that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and that informed consent goes a long way when allowing experimental treatments on patients with fatal diseases. Doctors too would be relieved of some of the regulatory burdens that bind them, as well as the onerous burdens imposed upon them by insurance companies that are themselves straining under government’s strong hand.

However, if you believe that the marketplace is populated by idiots, and that paradise can be achieved only by putting every person’s health and well-being into expert’s hands, you would (1) make a push for single-payer (or “universal” or “socialist”) health care or (2), if you couldn’t go full socialist, you would push for a government-managed marketplace, one that seems to have private providers but, in fact, has the government dictating all aspects of medical insurance and health treatment. In the latter case, you would then tell the public is that this government-controlled market will force insurers and health care providers to lower costs. In either case, you wouldn’t tell the public that,  when the government dictates completely how the healthcare market must be run, the available money in the healthcare marketplace shrinks rapidly.

In a purely socialist system, the government has no incentive to lower costs, because there’s no competition. And in a government-managed system, as we’re seeing with Obamacare, the regulations are so onerous, and the stifling government control over what should be a dynamic marketplace so incompetent, that prices go up and the system runs out of money.  In either case, the provider is then left with only one solution: rationing.

My point about rationing is not hypothetical. In every country that has socialized medicine, there’s some form of rationing going on. What European countries have done to hide the rationing is to let people see doctors (because then people think they’re getting medical care), while issuing regulations telling doctors that there are certain treatments that, while do-able and available, cannot be given to people in the wrong demographic.

And what’s the wrong demographic? The very old and the very sick. Or in other words, the best treatments cannot be given to the people who need them most but instead, are reserved for those healthy young people who somehow stumble into the wrong disease. Even better, you can avoid treating the young people for the disease too if you argue that the disease’s rarity in their age cohort makes testing wasteful, no matter their risks or their symptoms.

When a government-run system runs into a work load too overwhelming to handle, it does something that would result in jail time for any private care provider: it ignores people to death. Just in the last year, we’ve learned about this passive genocide in both England and America. Both the National Health Service and the Veterans Administration simply stopped treating sick people because it was too much effort or because it cost too much to care for them without running over-budget (or, worse, without running the risk of wiping out bonus funds for the bureaucrats).

Because taxpayers paying for socialized (or semi-socialized) medicine dislike it when care providers give up the pretense of care and just kill people, governments that control access to medicine are always looking for alternative ways to trim the numbers of sick people that the system neither can nor wants to treat. The trend for the last decade or so has been to abandon active genocide (directly killing patients through maltreatment or no treatment) and to push what I call “passive aggressive genocide” — a health care system tells the patients to kill themselves.

The whole “you don’t want to live” push started innocuously enough — and reasonably enough — with those Do Not Resuscitate (“DNR”) directives by which patients tell hospitals that, if they have a sudden death incident while in the hospital, the hospital make only minimal efforts to revive them. The rationale is that, contrary to hospital television shows, most people aren’t miraculously saved by CPR — or at least, most old and sick people aren’t.  Additionally, the process of saving someone from sudden cardiac arrest is quite brutal, involving as it does breaking ribs or ripping the chest open to get to the heart.  Even worse, if only extreme measures will save someone’s life, there’s a good likelihood that the person will have suffered full or partial brain death or will be so frail overall that the life-saving procedure will stave death off for only hours or days, or will result in the person living as a vegetable.

The foregoing are all really good reasons to avoid resuscitation. Especially if one is elderly, it seems infinitely preferable to die peacefully under anesthetic (if something goes wrong), as opposed to having your chest beaten or sliced open, only to die soon after or to linger in a coma.  It may have been malpractice that killed Joan Rivers in the first instance but, if her number was really up, it probably would have been easier had she died on the table than lingered, intubated, catheterized, and covered with wires for several days.  Or at least that’s what they tell us.

Thus, for quite a long time, the medical establishment has told us “Old people, for your own good, if you suddenly die in the hospital, stay dead. It will make you happier in the long run.”  And to be honest, I agree with this.  For various reasons, I’ve seen or heard of a lot of people in their 80s and 90s who ended up terribly brutalized by CPR and who died anyway.  That’s why I have a medical directive.  Even good ideas, though, can be the beginning of a slippery slope, especially in a post-moral society.

For example, what do you do if old people start getting expensive before going to the hospital? Well, one of the things you can do is to have Ezekial Emanuel, the architect of Obamacare explain why it’s utterly useless to go on living past age 75 (which, according to the actuarial tables, is close to the average age of death in America anyway):

Seventy-five.

That’s how long I want to live: 75 years.

[snip]

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

After explaining why it’s so good to die relatively young in a time when lifestyle choices and available medicine mean many of us can live to be quite old, Emanuel hastens to assure readers that he’s not advocating any policy that actually denies medical services to the elderly. He just thinks that old people should all join in with him and aim for dying fairly young.

Emanuel does have a point that many extremely old people complain about how awful it is to be old. Their brains and bodies are breaking down, they’re often dependent on others, and all the tasks of ordinary life are very, very difficult. What Emanuel ignores, though, is that, even as these people complain about the burdens of age, the vast majority of them still prefer it over death. Given the choice, they heed the Biblical admonition to “choose life.”

This life force is why my father, on the last day of his life before dying from cancer, when asked by a doctor “What can I do for you,” gripped that doctor by the lapels and, in a fierce whisper, said “Make me better.” And this is why a friend of mine who had AIDS, and who had stockpiled all sorts of medicines so that he could commit suicide when it got too bad, didn’t commit suicide despite Kaposi’s sarcoma, pneumocystis pneumonia, giardia, pedunculated lesions all over his body, and every other indignity AIDS could visit on what was once a healthy, handsome body. Instead, he fought to the end.

Contrary to Emanuel’s blithe certainty that, when he’s not as smart and good-looking and active as he is now (ahem), then he’ll just walk away from life with no regrets. I doubt it.

But perhaps I’m wrong to doubt that the Emanuel’s of this world are incapable of weakening our will to live. In societies as different as the Bushido warrior culture in WWII Japan and the radical Islamists in today’s world, we see that culture can destroy a human being’s innate life force. Despite our (and every other living creature’s) will to live, we humans can be talked into ignoring that instinct. We can be taught to value death because it serves our society. In Japan, young men who were taught to deny their life force died in kamikaze attacks on Americans; and practically every day, in every place around the world, some young Muslim boy or girl straps a few bombs to himself and goes off to die for Allah.

It’s therefore entirely possible that, if Emanuel and his cohorts spend enough time praising premature death, people will start to buy into it. And you know what?  I don’t even have to phrase this in terms of a hypothesis.  If I just cast my eyes across the Atlantic, I can see the future Emanuel desires.  Europe has had socialized medicine since shortly after WWII and has been pushing euthanasia for decades now.

WaPo columnist Michael Gerson has been looking at what’s happening in Europe.  In today’s opinion piece, he uses the Belgian government’s willingness to grant a serial killer his requested euthanasia as a springboard to discuss Europe’s reverence for medical suicide.

Gerson begins by noting that Belgians opposed to the prisoner’s euthanasia request have pointed out that killing a prisoner who is serving a sentence for murder is remarkably like having a death penalty, which the Europeans find barbaric.  Pro-euthanasia people dismissed this charge. To them, euthanasia is the ultimate act of individual freedom and self-determination. You have the power to cease being and the government will just make sure your decision gets carried out as painlessly as possible.

Put another way:  Europeans will gladly kill you if you’re a good person who has harmed no one, but they draw the line at killing a bad person who has murdered others.  Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?  Anyway, back to Gerson….

The whole “your body yourself” shtick that pro-euthanasia types in Belgium boast about sounds very nice, of course.  Gerson, though, points out the problem with this “free will” attitude, and the euthanasia system isn’t set up for total free will.  In fact, it’s set up so that the old and the sick are subtly, and not so subtly, told that they’re a drain on society. Gerson explains that the Belgian government has all sorts of legal hurdles before allowing someone to commit legalized suicide and that all these hurdles turn on proving that the soon-to-be-assisted-suicide is mentally or physically defective.  This negates the whole “anyone can cease to live if he wants” and starts to have an icky Nazi quality about it, except that this time the people march themselves to the gas chambers:

[T]he determination of certain societal classes that are helped in committing suicide is hard to separate from a judgment about the worth of those classes. The right to suicide adheres, in this case, not to all human beings but to sick and apparently flawed human beings. And such a “right” begins to look more and more like an expectation. A mentally or physically ill person can be killed, in the end, because they have an illness. A qualification can slide into a justification. This is a particularly powerful social message since people with cancer or severe depression sometimes feel worthless, or like a burden on their families, anyway. It is pitifully easy to make them — with an offer of help — into instruments of their own execution.

And suddenly, there you are . . . right back at the Chinese boy looking at his grandfather in the basket and warning his father that the father’s day will come too.

I’ll close with an anecdote I’ve told before because it deserves repeating. Many years ago, when Holland first enacted its euthanasia law, NPR ran an interview with a Dutchman who explained why euthanasia was a good idea in Holland, while it would be a terrible idea in America.  The secret to Holland’s euthanasia, he said, was socialized medicine.  The man explained that, in America, where medical costs could bankrupt families, those with terminal illnesses could be actively or passively coerced into turning to euthanasia in order to save their family’s finances.

Thus, both this Dutch man and the NPR host who interviewed him were both certain that Americans, when given the choice, would cheerfully throw Grandma from the train in order to save some money.  Europeans, the Dutchman explained, with their cradle-to-grave care, would never be pressured into killing themselves.  The beneficent state would pay all the medical bills, so money would not be an issue when it came to life and death decisions.  The only thing that would matter in Europe, said this Dutchman, was the terminally ill person’s wishes.

I, being a good liberal back in the day, enthusiastically endorsed what he had to say.  Clearly, euthanasia was a dreadful idea in America, where money was God, and people would be tempted to slip arsenic into their dying child’s broth in order to save the college fund for the next kid in line.

The intervening years since I heard that radio interview have revealed that the Dutchman was absolutely and completely wrong. In America, people have willingly bankrupted themselves to save beloved family members.  Mammon becomes meaningless when an extra treatment might give your child or a young mother a few more days, weeks, or years of life.  People have hearts and souls.  They connect to others, especially to those in their families.

The reality is that, when it comes to end of life decisions, the state does not love you.  It really does want you dead when you start costing too much.  If it can’t kill you with the blatant hard sell, it will try to get you to kill yourself by reminding you relentlessly that your best years are having and you should do yourself and society a favor by offing yourself.  Passive-aggressive genocide in a nutshell.  (And somewhere in Hell, a bunch of Nazis are thunking themselves on the heads, saying “Why didn’t we think of that?”)

A short, sweet Easter afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s Easter Sunday, and that means all family all the time.  No complaints here, though.  It’s been a lovely day so far and I anticipate an equally pleasant afternoon and evening.  Full blogging will not happen today, but here are a few (a very few) links that intrigued me:

I’ve long known in a vague sort of way that Egypt is one grain of wheat away from a famine.  Having read David Archibald’s article, though, I now know in a very specific way precisely what kind of famine may be facing the world’s most populous Muslim nation.  While the Western world seems to have managed to stay one step ahead of Malthus, that’s not the case in Egypt, where bad things — overpopulation, underproduction, lack of diversification, political upheaval, and probable drought — are coming together to create a Perfect Storm of advanced hunger.

***

One of my favorite non-fiction books is Thomas Cahill’s The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels. In authoring the book, Cahill has no ego. To the extent that he’s vastly well-informed, he wants to share his knowledge with people, not overwhelm them with his erudition. The result is a book that is simultaneously scholarly and accessible. I mentioned it here because Shmuley Boteach has written what could be the short version of that same book, describing how the Jews have contributed to the world’s well-being.

***

Two very specific things in the early 1980s taught me that socialism cannot work. The first was the fact that, when my father visited his sister in East Germany, shortly after she retired from her decade’s long career as a high level Communist Party functionary, he discovered that she had lived for nine years with a broken and unusable kitchen sink. Not to worry, this true believer told my father.  She was “on the list” and was confident that the glorious Communist Party would one day get around to fixing her sink.  I suspect that it was still broken when the wall came down.

The second thing that taught me that socialism cannot work was the story of two hip replacements. Back in 1974, my father got his hip replacement two months or so after he was told that it was the only way to keep him from spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He walked, albeit with pain for the next twenty years of his life, until his death.

Meanwhile, in 1981, while I was living in England, I met a woman who had been told back in 1979 that a hip replacement was the only thing that would keep her out of a wheelchair. When I met her, she’d been barely functioning for two years, although she’d avoided the wheelchair. After I left, she went into the wheelchair. I lost contact with her about two years after a left England (i.e., four years after the referral for hip surgery), at which time she was still in that wheelchair. I don’t know whether she ever got that hip.

Keep those realities in mind when you read about Sweden’s socialized medicine, which works wonderfully only if you live long enough to benefit from it.

***

The DiploMad may not be in the State Department any more, but he has friends who are. He’s learned from these friends that the State Department has a new initiative to ensure that something like Benghazi never happens again. Let me just say that I’m with the DiploMad in thinking that the movers and shakers in State are delusional — and to despair that they’re pursuing their delusions using our dollars and American lives.

***

A lawyer friend of mine is brilliant, informed, and an incredibly good writer.  I hope those are adequate reasons for you to check out his post about the Free Speech (and Association) implications of the attack on Brendan Eich.

Has Obamacare increased or decreased the chances of socialized medicine?

We all know that Obama and the Democrats committed fraud on a massive scale when the sold the public on Obamacare.  I do not believe that, in the annals of history in any democratic country has a government ever committed fraud against its people in such a way.

Andrew McCarthy makes the case that the purpose behind this fraud was to pave the way for socialized medicine.  The goal he says, was to knock everyone off their insurance, to destroy the insurance companies by bankrupting them, and then to have the government ride to the rescue.  I have no doubt that this is correct.  Indeed, I have never had any doubt, since conservatives, including those gathered at this blog, having been making precisely that argument since 2009.

What I’m wondering now, though, is whether the Democrats bollixed up their obvious goal through their own corruption and incompetence.  In a couple of years, when everything collapses, will people see the government as the white knight charging to the rescue or, after having watched Obamacare in action, will they do everything possible to avoid having the government take over health care?  If this plays out right, moving into 2016, won’t there be a rush to Republicans?

As always, the only question is whether the Republicans will offer a real market-based plan, or if they’ll just offer their own dreadful version of government-run medicine.

Incidentally, when it comes to government’s built-in incompetence creating large-scale technological projects, I cannot recommend this post highly enough.

Harry and Louise commercials were prophetic

The last time Congress considered a government medicine takeover, Harry and Louise beat it back.  In that regard, IOwnTheWorld discovered a couple of prophetic Harry and Louise commercials.

Here’s a question for you:  why were Americans and Congress resistant the last time around?  Have we changed?  Has the media become that much more powerful?  Or was the fact that Obama was the president sufficient to lead Americans to embrace a pathway to socialized medicine?

Hat tip:  Sadie

When it comes to end of life decisions, the state does not love you

Many years ago, when Holland first enacted its euthanasia law, NPR ran an interview with a Dutchman who explained why euthanasia was a good idea in Holland, while it would be a terrible idea in America.  The secret to Holland’s euthanasia, he said, was socialized medicine.  The man explained that, in America, where medical costs could bankrupt families, those with terminal illnesses could be actively or passively coerced into turning to euthanasia in order to save their family’s finances.

Old woman walking away

Put another way, this man and the NPR host who interviewed him were both certain that Americans, when given the choice, would cheerfully throw Grandma from the train in order to save some money.  Europeans, the Dutchman explained, with their cradle to grave care, would never be pressured into killing themselves.  The beneficent state would pay all the medical bills, so money would not be an issue when it came to life and death decisions.  The only thing that would matter in Europe, said this Dutchman, was the terminally ill person’s wishes.

I, being a good liberal back in the day, enthusiastically endorsed what he had to say.  Clearly, euthanasia was a dreadful idea in America, where money was God, and people would be tempted to slip arsenic into their dying child’s broth in order to save the college fund for the next kid in line.

Buried under debt

History has revealed that this Dutchman was absolutely and completely wrong. In America, people have willingly bankrupted themselves to save beloved family members.  Mammon becomes meaningless when an extra treatment might give your child or a young mother a few more days, weeks, or years of life.  People have hearts and souls.  They connect to others, especially to those in their families.

It’s very different in socialist states, where euthanasia is the name of the game, often without the patient’s, or her family’s, agreement.  In England, thousands of terminally ill people were hastened to their deaths by the Liverpool Care Pathway.  It was meant to be a national hospice program that provided palliative care to the terminally ill in their final days.  What ended up happening, of course, when the National Health Service started running out of money is that thousands (even tens of thousands) of elderly patients who were terminally ill, but weren’t anywhere near death’s door, were hastened to their deaths.  They had become too expensive or just too difficult to manage.

Loving care for sick child

It turns out that, twenty-odd years ago, when I heard that Dutchman speak, he had failed to consider two pertinent facts:  First, socialist states invariably run out of money once they finally destroy their productive class; and second, the state has neither heart nor soul.  To you, Patient X is your beloved mother, or brother, or child.  To the state, Patient X is an unnecessary cost to an already strained system.

What frightens me is that, in Obama’s America, even before socialized medicine takes over, we might be losing the heart and soul that distinguishes individuals from the state.  The Anchoress found at Salon an article in which Mary Elizabeth Williams, who supports abortion, finally comes out and said it:  So what if abortion ends life? It’s almost refreshing to see this kind of honesty about one side of a divisive issue:

Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.

[snip]

And I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.

The Anchoress slices and dices the whole argument, but I found this point particularly compelling:

A point of order, please: One may certainly sacrifice one’s own life for another. That is what makes it a sacrifice. Sacrificing “another’s” life is not a sacrifice, unless that other person actually (like Jesus Christ or a soldier who has volunteered to serve, or a mother like this one) says, “yes, I will be sacrificed for the sake of others.”

Absent that permission, though, it’s not a sacrifice. It’s just an expedient, and wasteful killing.

In fact, the notion that someone else’s life is “worth sacrificing” for the furtherance of one’s own situation — the mindset that can advance that thinking — is precisely one that deserves the name “diabolical.”

Although both the Salon article and the Anchoress’ rebuttal focus on the beginning of life, the whole article is unnerving about life’s end too.  The writer’s approach to human beings — we must sacrifice innocent lives for the greater good — has the same stark utilitarian logic found in the heartless and soulless socialist state that readily puts humans on a death pathway because they’re too expensive to care for.

Twenty years ago, I wrongly thought that a state’s magisterial power and wealth would be more pro-life than the human ties that bind people together.  I’m now scared that, twenty years hence, both states and humans will cheerfully dispatch any expenses or inconveniences.  And yes, it can happen here.  It happened in Germany, it happened in the Soviet Union, it happened in Turkey, it happened in Cambodia, it happened in Rwanda….

Cambodian victims

Whether one believes that the Bible is God’s handiwork or man’s, it is a book of inestimable wisdom about humankind’s strengths and foibles.  The constant exhortations to life stand as a reminder that man wears his civilization very lightly and that, beneath it, there is animal savagery, without any sense of morals, ethic, justice, or love.  It would be interesting to see what that long ago Dutchman, or the representations of the National Health Service, or even Mary Elizabeth Williams would say about the Biblical injunction to “choose life.

Double paying in Britain for health care

When I lived in England, those who could afford to escape from government medicine by paying twice did so.  I addition to their high taxes, they bought a private insurance that I remember rejoiced in the name BUPA.  Things haven’t changed.  I don’t know why I’m on the mailing list, but I just got this announcement in today’s email:

NHS Waiting Lists Soar by 50% in the Last Year !!

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With the NHS waiting lists out of control, it’s no surprise millions of UK residents are protecting themselves with medical cover.

Premiums have dropped dramatically in recent years and are now at an all time low due to increased competition.

There are more providers and more plans available which has had an impact on price. Providers also offer more flexible underwriting terms which means helps people switch even if they have pre-existing conditions.

For many people, medical insurance may seem like a luxury that they just cannot afford to have. The reality is that medical insurance is a necessity that they cannot afford to live without.

Whether you have still not yet taken out Medical Cover, or wish to review an old one – let us do the hard work for you and compare the leading providers for you.

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We’re actually all familiar with this situation. Everyone pays for public schools. Thanks to unions, though, even the best public schools indoctrinate as much as they teach. The worst public schools are dangerous slums where children learn basic survival skills. Parents who want out, in addition to paying high taxes, also end up paying tuition for private schools. Poor parents, of course, are trapped, and beg for vouchers, which their elite Democrat masters deny them. (And yet they still vote Democrat. Go figure.)

Socialized anything is low-quality, crowded anything. Only the rich, who can afford to double pay, escape.

Hey, I want free medicine too

People are rightly protesting on religious grounds the fact that Obama has mandated that health care plans must cover birth control and morning after pills:

Most healthcare plans will be required to cover birth control without charging co-pays or deductibles starting Aug. 1, the Obama administration announced Friday.

The final regulation retains the approach federal health officials proposed last summer, despite the deluge of complaints from religious groups and congressional Republicans that has poured in since then. Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, but religious-affiliated hospitals and universities only get a one-year delay and must comply by Aug. 1, 2013.

Aside from the religious aspects, I think this whole thing is grossly unfair.  What about my migraines?  I should get free medicine.  And how about the heartburn that’s plagued me since my pregnancies?  I want free Prilosec.  Many of you, I’m sure, have medicines that you think should be free too.

My point is that, entirely aside from the ethics of forcing religious institutions to fund birth control, it’s simply wrong to make everyone in America underwrite one specific type of prescription.  Of course, in the world of socialized medicine, where the president gets to call the shots, rather than the people who actually foot the bills, there is no right and wrong:  there’s only politics.  The Hell with religious freedom or other outdated Constitutional doctrines.  We live in a modern age, with a modern president, one committed to turning us into the dying old world of Europe.

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.”

What happens when medicine sinks in pay and status

As the Soviet Union showed, by the time medicine is fully nationalized, careers in medicine have been reduced to the lowest status level, somewhere around street cleaning.  Learning medicine and practicing medicine (including nursing, pharmacy, technical jobs, etc.), is incredibly time-consuming and, in a society that still has the gloss of being capitalist, costly.  The jobs themselves are incredibly tough, both physically and emotionally.  Aside from the undoubted pleasure many find in helping sick people, the real remuneration for all the time and energy involved in working in medicine is money.  Government, of course, takes that incentive away.  And, absent the incentive, that’s how you end up with this:

An NHS hospital has staff from a staggering 70 countries on its payroll.

The huge number of overseas nurses, cleaners and porters has forced health chiefs to send them on ten-week English courses because many do not understand basic medical phrases.

Among the terms some workers from countries such as Burma, the Philippines and Poland can’t follow are ‘nil by mouth’, ‘doing the rounds’ and ‘bleeping a doctor’.

They highlight the language problems throughout the Health Service, which critics say are putting patients’ lives at risk.

The lessons follow several ‘near-disaster’ cases, including one where a meal was delivered to a patient because a member of staff did not understand that ‘nil by mouth’ meant the man could not eat or drink.

Although all doctors from outside the EU must pass an English language test set by the General Medical Council before they can practise, the same rules do not apply for other hospital workers.

Instead, they are usually assessed on their grasp of the language at interview.

The problem has become so acute at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals that foreign workers are being encouraged to attend ten-week, taxpayer-funded ‘English For Speakers Of Other Languages’ courses, which are run by a nearby college.

Research has found that up to a quarter of nurses  –  more than 60,000  –  working in London are foreign, with the largest number coming from the Philippines.

Read more here.

While the above report makes clear that the language problem in the NHS involves nurses, not doctors (who must be minimally competent in England), reading the British papers makes it clear that foreign educated doctors carry their own problems.  Training isn’t standardized, many of them commute from overseas and are perpetually jet lagged, and practice values are different.  In a country that makes being a physician worthwhile — which is what America has done for so long — you get the best and the brightest.  Once practicing medicine or being a nurse is about as high status (and high paying) as being a clerk in a government office, you’re going to see the best and the brightest gravitate elsewhere.