Are we too late?

This has been a sobering week for me. I’m still looking for work, so I’m sure that adds to my melancholy mood, but a few incidents converged in my mind to create a sense of foreboding I can’t shake.

The one that everyone is following is what some believe to be the final push to enact President Obama’s massive health care overhaul. I am flabbergasted by the Democrats’ determination to commit political suicide in order to get this bill passed. They call this determination “courage” – I call it foolhardy at best and ominous at worst.

It’s clear they believe in this bill enough to go down in flames if they must. The question I keep asking is, “Why?”

I don’t care how many times President Obama tries to label the opposition to his health plan as “misinformation.” The list of credible health care professionals, thought leaders and economists who have serious issues with this bill is far too long, and they wouldn’t stake their reputations or prestige on “misinformation.”

If you asked me who I trust more in evaluating the impact of this health proposal, President Obama or Jeffrey Flier, the dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Medicine, who says “those who favor the legislation are engaged in collective denial” because “there are no provisions to substantively control the growth of costs or raise the quality of care”, my money’s on Dr. Flier.

If you haven’t read his analysis of the health care proposals from the House and Senate, and you’re not besotted with President Obama to to point of completely lacking objectivity, I highly recommend it. You, too, will ask “Why?”

President Obama is an intelligent man, so why is he seemingly oblivious to the fact this bill will do to the United States what Commonwealth Care has done to Massachusetts? Commonwealth Care is the state experiment in universal health care after which President Obama’s proposal is largely modeled.

Since Commonwealth Care was enacted in 2006, health care costs in Massachusetts have increased by nearly 40%, and health insurance premiums are among the highest in the nation. Overcrowded waiting rooms and doctor shortages have gotten worse. Dr. Flier, who lives in Massachusetts, had this to say about their reform efforts:

There are important lessons to be learned from recent experience with reform in Massachusetts. Here, insurance mandates similar to those proposed in the federal legislation succeeded in expanding coverage but—despite initial predictions—increased total spending.

Note the phrase “initial predictions” in Dr. Flier’s statement and tell me the last time federal government “initial predictions” actually panned out. No government health care program has ever met its “initial predictions” – EVER. In fact, actual costs are more than double the “initial predictions” and Medicare is on the verge of insolvency. If you trust the government when they say a $1 trillion program and its associated bureaucracy are going to save us money, you are a candidate for relocation to Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.

That is why I believe the best one can say about the Democrats’ kamikaze run is it’s foolhardy.

The more chilling possibility, one I can’t discount, is they don’t care. What if their motive isn’t lowering costs or increasing quality? What if it’s about making more people dependent on government? As Mark Steyn put it, “government health care is not about health care It’s about government.”

The Democrats have been trying to enact universal health care in the United States since President Franklin Roosevelt, and they’ve been putting the pieces in place slowly but surely. Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Veterans Administration health benefits – poor people, the elderly, millions of children, and veterans are already locked in.

That leaves the rest of us, and we’ve resisted for decades because we know the government can’t afford what it’s doing already. Doctors are refusing to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients because the reimbursements don’t come close to covering their costs.

What happens if the government tells your private health insurance company they charge too much in premiums and forces them to charge less? They pay out less to your doctor, who concludes he or she can’t run a practice on such unrealistic reimbursements, and closes up shop. We’re nearly there; a New England Journal of Medicine survey revealed that nearly 47% of primary care physicians would leave medicine or be forced out if the health bill passes.

This mad rush to the ruin of our health care system is heartbreaking. Not only will the federal government have permanently inserted itself into the intimate doctor/patient relationship, not only will we be ordered by the government to purchase health insurance, a direct violation of our individual liberty, but all those desperate people who think this program will be their salvation are going to be devastated. The betrayal they feel will be immense.

And our elected officials won’t care. After all, they’ll have access to the best health care – bank on it.

Possibly lost in the battle over health care reform was the scoring of President Obama’s proposed federal budget. The Congressional Budget Office said the budget, submitted to Congress at the end of February, would result in a record $9.3 trillion deficit in ten years.

Government spending would consume almost a quarter of the nation’s gross domestic product, a post-World War II record. President Obama is on track to increase the deficit by as much in two years as President Bush did in eight.

One of the consequences of this spending spree is that Moody’s Investors Service has placed the U.S. on a watch list of sorts for possible downgrading of its triple-A bond rating.

Moody’s chief economist said that, unlike several years ago, "now the question of a potential downgrade of the U.S. is not inconceivable." If our bond rating falls because we can’t control the massive increase in public debt, it makes borrowing more expensive and lowers our credit worthiness as a nation.

We are on the pathway toward second-tier nation status and, while many in today’s world may not care, or may even rejoice, as a former U.S. Air Force officer who was proud to represent my country in foreign lands we’d liberated from tyranny, it is a source of great sadness for me.

The United States of America, like any nation, is imperfect but, unlike any other nation, has done the most for the cause of individual liberty and economic freedom. The legacy of the American empire is one of freedom and prosperity around the world.

In the midst of all this depressing economic news, I read this post on Facebook from a college student who occasionally spars with me on political and social issues:

FDR was a closet commie, who had far more in common with the would be socialist leaders of our own day than some people would have you know. look at his attempt at a 2nd bill of rights, its practically a carbon copy of the communist manifesto. :D the more i learn about fdr the more i love him!

It gets worse:

a free-market economy is a tool invented by the rich to allow the exploitation of the poor, by their labor, and the middle class, by their belief that they may someday be those who hold the whip instead. the free-market economy is a lie of exponential proportions, and a blindfold over the eyes of democracy and true freedom. it holds its roots in privatization and economic de-regulation, hidden behind the veil 'individualist ideals'. it is a mere mirage laid in front of the proletariat to encourage scuffling and squandering among ourselves. it is not ours, and it never will be!

I was floored, and it took me a day to absorb what he’d written. This is what our tax dollars are paying our schools to teach?

How could anyone with even a passing knowledge of history embrace an ideology that murdered, by conservative estimates, over 110,000,000 innocent people, sent 30,000,000 more to their deaths in wars to spread their beliefs, stripped billions of their human rights and individual dignity, and reserved the first fruits of society for a privileged few and relegated the rest to working poor status?

Did anyone ever point out to these students the Achilles’ heel of all collectivist governments, their failure to acknowledge human nature and, in fact, their subversion of human nature to bend it to their will?

Human beings are made to create, and we create to our full potential when it is to our own benefit and that of our loved ones. We create to satisfy another’s needs or desires, and they reward us with a portion of their wealth. Both parties get what they want in the transaction and it’s countless billions of similar transactions every day that make the world economy work. When we create without adequate reward for our efforts, or a portion of the wealth we would have earned for our creation is taken from us and given to another who did nothing to deserve it, our will to create is diminished.

Even the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock abandoned a collectivist model because the hard-working people resented those who did little or nothing to contribute to the greater good, and those who did nothing presumed they didn't have to work because their needs would be met by someone else.

When they made each person responsible for their own crops, overall productivity increased dramatically.  Those who worked hard produced an abundance, and those who previously relied on others now had to work in order to feed themselves and their families. The U.S. isn't the largest economy in world history by accident.

How many more students are out there with collectivist beliefs? Is this ignorance of history, economics and human nature widespread?

As I see our nation hurtling toward the economic precipice, and I read Marxist recitations  from our college students, another question comes to mind: “Are we too late?”

Have we finally awakened from our slumber, only to find the train has left the station? Did we enable our own destruction through our complacency, like the frog in the pot of water that didn’t realize the heat was gradually rising until it was too late?

I was one of the planners and the master of ceremonies for the first Tea Party in Maryland, held at Solomons on March 22, 2009. At the time, I remember telling someone that, while I was very pleased with the turnout, I doubted the people would have the stamina to keep it up.

Six months and four Tea Parties later, on September 12, 2009, I found myself standing in the midst of 1.7 million people, the largest gathering of center-right Americans ever. I was wrong about the staying power of the “silent majority” which had been provoked by the dramatic lurch leftward of the current administration, and was silent no longer.

Just yesterday, I attended a Tea Party protest against the final health bill, and activists from around the country filled the halls of the Congressional office buildings to meet with their representatives, while others jammed phone lines and email queues with their demands to be heard.

Still, the Democrats are trying to round up votes, and are evaluating a novel way to make this health bill into law without directly voting on it.

Academia, the entertainment industry and the mainstream press are completely sold out to the liberal/progressive/statist agenda.

The rise of Fox News and the Internet, and the corresponding decline of print media, as primary sources of news for most Americans can be laid at the feet of a press that claims objectivity, but rarely demonstrates it.

Are we too late?