AARP runs meeting consistent with their paper’s Leftist management

It was only last week that I wrote about the fact that the AARP’s weird support for Obama Care, a plan that is likely to ration care its members, might be connected to the fact that at least one branch of its management, the magazine editorship, is to the left of Left.  I think that attitude might be more prevalent in the AARP than just at the magazine itself.  How else to explain this wonderful style of meeting management?

The playbook would be as follows:

How to run an AARP meeting, Leftie style:

1.  Open a meeting with elderly people by talking in a swift, inaudible mumble?  Check.

2.  Assert a whole bunch of assumptions with which your audience instantly disagrees?  Check.

3.  Scold your audience for not getting with a program ostensibly for their benefit?  Check.

4.  Shut down the meeting because it turns out your constituents were supposed to listen to you, not vice versa?  Check.

All the problems with Democratic health care reform

In just three paragraphs, Charles Krauthammar explains all of the problems with the health care reform the President so desperately wants passed by August:

President Obama premised the need for reform on the claim that medical costs are destroying the economy. True. But now we learn — surprise! — that universal coverage increases costs. The congressional Democrats’ health-care plans, says the CBO, increase costs on the order of $1 trillion plus.

In response, the president retreated to a demand that any bill he sign be revenue-neutral. But that’s classic misdirection: If the fierce urgency of health-care reform is to radically reduce costs that are producing budget-destroying deficits, revenue neutrality (by definition) leaves us on precisely the same path to insolvency that Obama himself declares unsustainable.

The Democratic proposals are worse still. Because they do increase costs, revenue neutrality means countervailing tax increases. It’s not just that it is crazily anti-stimulatory to saddle a deeply depressed economy with an income tax surcharge that falls squarely on small business and the investor class. It’s that health-care reform ends up diverting for its own purposes a source of revenue that might otherwise be used to close the yawning structural budget deficit that is such a threat to the economy and to the dollar.

Tying up the healthcare package with an ugly bow

Michelle Malkin puts it together:  the administration’s insistence that blind-folded science (untouched by greed or human feeling) will ensure the proper treatments in all situations plus the person who is the President’s voice for those “scientific” treatments.  If you recall Zombie’s expose about the new science czar, John Holdren, you’ll realize that the person setting the tone for this scientific treatment is someone who views humans as something that should be destroyed in order to recreate Eden.

Again, let me remind you:

Also, I again suggest that, if you haven’t already, you read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change, which discusses the fascists’ enduring belief that science is the answer.  That belief, of course, reached its apex (or, a better word, its nadir) with Mengele.

Herding seniors to the abattoire *UPDATED*

Don Parker nails both the costs and hypocrisy behind the mandate in the new health care bill that seniors be gently steered towards a cheap death.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Old Flyer for reminding me of this, which fits in so perfectly with the new plan:

UPDATE II:  A story from my dad’s old joke book.

In long ago Japan or China (or amongst the Eskimos, or something else), a young boy came across his father carry a large basket on his back.  In the basket was the boy’s grandfather.

He asked, “Father, where are you taking grandfather?”

“Shh,” said the father.  “Grandfather is old and sick.  He eats, but he does not earn.  I’m taking him to the river, where I will leave him to die.  It will be better for all of us.”

“Oh, father,” said the boy.  “That is an excellent idea.  But be sure to bring the basket home, so that I can use it for you one day.”

All cultures living on the margin of survival have used abandonment as a way of culling the herd so that the strong can survive.  The Hansel and Gretel story is a perfect example of this.  With too many mouths to feed, the children were left in the wilderness.

My question, of course, is whether we, in America, have come to that marginal existence?  The Left thinks we have.  I don’t — or, at least, I hope we haven’t.

Obama acolytes continue to deny human nature

Tom Elia links to an utterly fatuous statement from a 25 year old Obama supporter (who nevertheless gets a bully pulpit in a WaPo blog), saying that killing the profit motive will have no effect whatsoever on pharmaceutical innovation.  In the face of such stupidity, I have to drag out my family history once again.

My aunt was such an ardent Communist that, after WWII, she returned to Berlin.  When shocked friends in Israel asked, “How can you go back to the land of the Nazis?” she replied, “The Communists have cleansed that stain.”  She lived in Berlin until the day she died, sometime in the late 1980s.

In the early 1980s, my father had the opportunity to visit her.  Although she had retired by then, her status as a very high level party apparatchik meant that she had a “nice” apartment, which included having her own bathroom.  That bathroom proved to be very useful, because her kitchen sink didn’t work.  She had to do all of her kitchen washing up (preparing foods and cleaning up afterward) in the bathroom sink.

My father asked her why she didn’t get the sink repaired.  Her answer:  “I’m on the list for getting a repair.”  He asked, “How long have you been on the list?”  Her reply:  “Nine years.”

That is what happens when there is no profit motive.  If plumbers will get paid the same whether or not the rush out and repair your plumbing or sit back in the office, they will sit back in the office.

Humans have very few motivations:  passion (both physical and intellectual), hunger, fear, and a sort of overarching greed.  Unless the plumber is starving, being imminently threatened, or having sex with his/her customers, the only motivator left for him to get out and do the job is greed.  Harnessed through capitalism, you have a splendidly operating system; limited by communism, you have nothing but immobility and graft.

Getting care in Canada

Steve Crowder looks at the Canadian health care system.  Some of his experiences are similar to those in any busy city emergency room, such as a long, long wait for a low level problem.  Others, most notably statements by nurses, make your eyes bug:  Three years to get an appointment with a personal physician?  The impossibility of cholesterol tests?  You have to see it all.  Since it’s Steve, the 20 minutes go by quickly:

After that, contemplate whether you’re going to get what you’re paying for if the Dem plan goes forward.

Because teens hadn’t already figured out that sex can feel good

Those who are pushing for universal health care here in America might want to take just a second to contemplate what Britain’s National Health Service (“NHS”) is doing in the area of teen sex.  Because Britain has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe, which no doubt is quite costly to the NHS, you might assume that the NHS would push a combination of abstinence and contraception.  Thinking along those lines, of course, would just prove how utterly naive you are.

Contrary to your naivete, the NHS is hip, dear, totally hip.  Teens shouldn’t be lectured about such boring things as self-control, love, marriage, and contraception.  They should be groovin’ and going with their feelings.  Sex is beautiful, man, and the NHS is there to make sure the teens know that fact.  Thus, an NHS pamphlet prepared specially for British teens contains this helpful information:

The NHS is telling school pupils they have a ‘right’ to an enjoyable sex life and that it is good for their health.

A Health Service leaflet says experts concentrate too much on the need for safe sex and loving relationships, and not enough on the pleasure it can bring.

***

Under the heading ‘an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away’, the leaflet says: ‘Health promotion experts advocate five portions of fruit and veg a day and 30 minutes physical activity three times a week. What about sex or masturbation twice a week?’

The advice, which also claims regular sex is good for cardiovascular health, has been circulated to parents, teachers and youth workers.

***

The NHS leaflet has been drawn up by Sheffield primary care trust and is entitled Pleasure.

The true beauty of the pamphlet is the rationale its author offers for promulgating this groovy, free-lovin’ information:

Its author, Steve Slack, director of the Centre for HIV and Sexual Health at NHS Sheffield, defended it by saying the advice could encourage young people to delay losing their virginity until they are sure they will enjoy the experience.

He added that as long as teenagers are fully informed about sex and making decisions free of peer pressure as part of a caring relationship, they have as much right as an adult to a good sex life.

Each and every Victorian who ever lived is rolling in his or her grave.

The few sane minds left in England are protesting the NHS’s latest effort to decrease teen pregnancy — which is an effort only Austin Powers could truly appreciate — but I rather wonder if they’re going to have much success.

Considering how whacked out the NHS is becoming over the seemingly intractable problem of teen pregnancy (especially since the word “no” does not seem to be a part of the British sex ed vocabulary), one wonders if the next step is going to be a consultation with Obama’s own science czar, John Holdren.  A little hormone treatment to the national water system, and everyone can have all the fun sex they want.

It’s rather funny to think that Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote Welcome to the Monkey House: Stories at about the same time as Holdren wrote his treatise on mass sterilization, got it all wrong.  The secret wasn’t, as Vonnegut’s overpopulated alternative reality predicted, making sex too awful for anyone to try.  Instead, it was making it so much fun that people would willingly permanently spay or neuter themselves for the pleasure.

Fool me once, shame on you….

In his most recent article at the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove explains in great detail how Barack Obama told quite obvious lies about the stimulus numbers, only to pretend now that he didn’t really mean what he said.  (That’s the lying pattern I’ve told you about.)  The American people were good and fooled.  The question, of course, is whether they’re going to let themselves be fooled again into believing Obama’s health care numbers:

This fits a pattern. The administration consistently pledges unrealistic results that it later distances itself from. It has gotten away with it because the media haven’t asked many pointed questions. That may not last as the debate shifts to health care.

The Obama administration wants a government takeover of health care. To get it, it is promising to wring massive savings out of the health-care industry. And it has already started to make cost-savings promises.

For example, the administration strong-armed health-care providers into promising $2 trillion in health savings. It got pharmaceutical companies to promise to lower drug prices for seniors by $80 billion over 10 years. The administration also trotted out hospital executives to say that they would voluntarily save the government $150 billion over 10 years.

None of this comes near to being true. On the promised $2 trillion, everyone admits that the number isn’t built on anything specific — it’s an aspirational goal. On drug prices, a White House spokesman admitted that “These savings have not been identified at the moment.” It is speculative that these cuts will actually be made, when they would begin, or whether they would reduce government health-care spending.

A month ago, I would have said that a compliant media would simply spin things for Obama again, with a credulous American public going along and footing the bill for its own destruction.  Despite the fact that the media is still shilling for Obama, at least as to the little things, I’m not absolutely sure that media members (who also pay taxes) are as willing to shill for the bigger things.  Two signs that they might not are Obama’s increasingly (and steadily) negative polling numbers, and somewhat belated articles from the MSM admitting that his budget numbers don’t add up.  I’m not dancing jigs yet, especially with that “60” in the Senate, but I’m allowing a faint hope that the juggernaut might be slowing down.

Deconstructing the Obama health care plan

Okay, it’s actually called the Kennedy bill, but it’s the realization of Obama’s insistence on the federal government forcing and funding mandatory health insurance.  Keith Hennessey, in addition to giving links for you to read the bill yourself, explains the substantive parts of the bill, as well as the probable practical and economic effects the bill will have.  As to the latter, here are just a few things Hennessey gives us to worry about:

  • The government would mandate not only that you must buy health insurance, but what health insurance counts as “qualifying.”
  • Health insurance premiums would rise as a result of the law, meaning lower wages.
  • A government-appointed board would determine what items and services are “essential benefits” that your qualifying plan must cover.
  • [snip]

  • Those who keep themselves healthy would be subsidizing premiums for those with risky or unhealthy behaviors.
  • [snip]

  • The Secretaries of Treasury and HHS would have unlimited discretion to impose new taxes on individuals and employers who do not comply with the new mandates.
  • [snip]

And while Hennessey points out the flaws in the bill, the Wall Street Journal explains all the false data and unsupported assumptions that drive the bill.

I have a different question.  In 1994, when the Clinton’s first tried to created government health care, conservatives launched the brilliant Harry and Louise ad campaign.  (To the extent Harry and Louise have returned, they’re now demanding nationalized health care, which is beyond scary.)  Why haven’t I heard about a single ad initiative aimed at the average American to help him or her understand that there is a disaster in the making here?  Is it because, with DVRs, people no longer watch commercials?  If that’s the case, how in the world do we circumvent the Obama media and get solid information out to ordinary people?

Medieval dental care under Britain’s NHS

When I was growing up, my father was a teacher with a lousy salary and lousy benefits.  The only good thing he had was his dental plan.  It was a wonderful dental plan.  Provided that we got our teeth cleaned and checked twice a year, it would pay the total cost of any dental work needed.  (And, unsurprisingly given the careful maintenance our teeth got, we never needed fancy dental work.)  One of the side benefits of the plan was that it got me in the habit of making regular visits to my dentist to keep my teeth up to par.

Going to England for my junior year abroad didn’t change that habit.  About half way through the year, I decided that I absotively, posolutely needed to get my teeth cleaned, even if I had to pay out of pocket for the experience.  While visiting a friend in Surrey, I managed to get an appointment with her dentist.

The tooth cleaning I got was, to this spoiled American, surprising.  First, the dentist did it himself, as opposed to a technician.  He explained that, since people didn’t get their teeth cleaned, technicians weren’t trained in the task.  He had been trained at dental skill, he said, but his skills were rusty.

And rusty they were.  If you’re like me, you’re used to a very thorough cleaning:  gum measurements (to check for recession); a careful scraping of every surface; sonic assistance on the scraping, if need be; a gentle scrub with that polisher doo-hicky and some abrasive paste; and finally a good flossing.  When I leave the dentist, my teeth are so clean you can eat off of them.

In England, all I got was a less than gentle scrub with that polisher doo-hicky and some abrasive paste.  That was it.  That was what past for dental hygiene.  It became apparent to me why British teeth have been a long-standing American joke.

Despite (or perhaps because of) Britain’s national health care system, British dentistry apparently continues to be a century or two behind America’s.  Today’s British news informs us that Britain’s dentists pretty much treat tooth problems as they’ve been treated for thousands of years:  they pull the tooth. Indeed, it seems that, when it comes to dental care, the only difference between British dental care today and British dental care in the 1850s, 1750s, 1550s, and ever further back in time, is the anesthetic:

Thousands of Britons are having teeth needlessly pulled out, it was claimed yesterday.

The number of extractions has soared by 30 per cent in four years, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

The party claims this demonstrates how much dental care has deteriorated under Labour, leaving thousands missing out on treatment that could save their teeth. More than 175,000 Britons had their teeth extracted under general anaesthetic in 2007/08, up 40,000 on the 2003/04 figure, a parliamentary answer revealed.

Figures show thousands of people are having their teeth pulled out needlessly when they could have been saved

Of these, 44,300 were aged between six and 18 and 14,200 were under five years old. LibDem health spokesman Norman Lamb said: ‘The extraordinary number of people needing their teeth extracted under general anaesthetic could well be the result of the appalling access to NHS dentistry.’

He pointed the finger at the general difficulty in finding a Health Service dentist since the Government introduced a ‘botched’ contract in April 2006.

Designed to increase access to NHS dentistry, the deal actually saw hundreds of dentists leave the NHS.

The number of patients seeing a dentist fell by 1.2million, leaving thousands without the treatment that could have stopped their teeth getting so bad that they had to be pulled out.

But dentists’ salaries have soared by 11 per cent since the change – to an average of more than £96,000.

Mr Lamb added: ‘The dental contract was supposedly designed to improve the situation, but the staggering rise in tooth extractions proves the massive failures of thisbotched initiative. The crisis in NHS dentistry is one of this Government’s most shameful legacies.’

Although the rate of extractions increased throughout the four-year period following April 2003, it gathered pace after the new contract for NHS dentists was introduced.

You can read the rest here.

As I read it, aside from Britain’s generally laughable dental standards, a huge government error has doomed millions of Britain’s to medieval care. That’s what happens when you have one provider, and the provider screws up. There are no alternatives. There is no marketplace to adapt and provide. Everything simply collapses.

Patient safety is not a focus when the government calls the shots

For three years, a single British hospital that was obsessed with following government health care mandates to the letter, succeeded only in killing 1,200 patients unnecessarily:

Twelve NHS trusts are being investigated following a damning report which today slammed ‘appalling’ care at a single hospital.

Hundreds of patients may have died after bosses at Staffordshire General focused on Government targets rather than safety, the Healthcare Commission said.

A ‘shocking’ catalogue of failures over a three-year period were disclosed after an investigation found hospital managers had sought to save millions by adopting foundation status.

[snip]

Among the findings of yesterday’s report were:

● receptionists carrying out initial checks on emergency patients

● too few consultants, with junior doctors left in charge overnight

● two clinical decision units used as ‘dumping grounds’ for A&E patients to avoid breaching four-hour waiting targets, one of which had no staff

● nurses so ill-trained they turned off heart monitors because they didn’t understand them

● delays in operations, with some patients having surgery cancelled four days in a row and left without food, drink or medication

● vital equipment missing or not working

● doubling of life-threatening C diff infection rates, which were kept from the hospital board and the public

● a target of £10 million savings which was met at the expense of 150 posts, including nurses

● more debate by the board about becoming a foundation trust than about patient safety

[snip]

Investigators were inundated with complaints from patients and relatives, the most it had ever received, including Julie Bailey, 47, who set up a campaign group following the death of her mother in November 2007 at the hospital in Stafford.

She was so concerned about her 86-year-old mother Bella that she and her relatives slept in a chair at her hospital bedside for eight weeks.

‘What we saw in those eight weeks will haunt us for the rest of our lives’ she said.

Thirsty patients drank out of flower vases, while others were screaming in pain and falling out of bed.

[snip]

Director of the Patients Association Katherine Murphy said ‘Government targets have directly impaired safe clinical practice and money and greed for Foundation Trust benefits has taken priority over patient’s lives.’

As you can see, the above story does not relate one of those increasingly frequent situations in which the British government decided to withhold treatment or tests from a single class of patients because the patients are more expense than they are worth.  The government wasn’t directly involved here at all.

The problem, instead, was that a hospital, rather than seeing patients at its customers, saw the government as its patron, and redirected its energies accordingly.  And because there was no connection between the patients and the hospital in terms of complaints (that is, the hospital didn’t care about the patients, who were not paying the bills themselves, nor did they have a direct relationship with an insurance company that wanted to keep their custom), the hospital managed to go for years without having to react to criticism or complaints.  It was only when patients and their families were able to achieve a critical mass that made a noise loud enough to spur the government to action that the hospital’s conduct finally came under scrutiny.

It’s a reminder to us all that the market speaks loudly and quickly.  The government may ultimately have the loudest voice of all, but getting it to speak is often an agonizing task for a consumer who is deprived of a true marketplace and, instead, is utterly dependent on the government to give him a voice.