Thursday, November 19, 2009

Health By Bureaucracy

Just a quick one today.  I'm sure you've heard the news about the Federally appointed task force that decided that the current breast cancer screening procedures are too thorough sighting the high cost of each test and individual turmoil caused due to false positives (detecting breast cancer where there isn't any).  Thankfully the Obama Administration won't change their existing policy on this go-around... its like they have a critical bill moving through the Senate that is trying to give them control over what type of medical treatment is really necessary or something.

Seriously, though:  a government task force appointed to come up with the balance between cost, your own personal feelings, and your health?  Isn't this just like the government telling me what is healthy instead of me talking it over with my doctor?  I thought this was something only evil corporations were capable of: identifying what sort of treatments or preventative measures I need by a calculated cost-benefit analysis.  Why would you fight for something like this?

Here is my chance to poke a few more holes in the FDA, also.  Have you heard the story about the FDA looking to take action against highly caffeinated alcoholic beverages?  First off, who hasn't tried a Vodka with Red Bull - secondly, what is the point of making pre-mixed drinks illegal when the whole fashion was started with people mixing their own drinks?  If MillerCoors isn't allowed to sell their Sparks because it is dangerous, what is to keep people from mixing their own again?  Is the FDA going to go into a house party and arrest people for mixing drinks?  Which is really dangerous - the alcohol or the caffeine or both?  If everything is dangerous, let's just bring back prohibition and add caffeine to the list of banned substances!

It is impossible to implement enough laws to protect people from their own ignorance.  If it is dangerous to mix alcohol and caffeine, then education is the way to solve it (remember that party saying, "beer before liquor, never sicker - liquor before beer, in the clear").  It is the same with preventative health measures - these issues should be solved between a patient and their doctor.  These are the two most qualified parties that poses the most relevant information - not some bureaucratic task force.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Social Security

As you may recall, I asked Mike Capuano at an Open Mike event his view of the constitutionality of the federal government passing some form of universal health care in a previous post.  During the first few seconds after he was getting over his apparent shock, he told me that health care is absolutely constitutional because if it wasn't, then Social Security wouldn't be constitutional either.  My response was quite simply, "Well - yeah."  Enter: US Supreme Court case Helvering vs Davis (May 1937).  The Supreme Court upheld the Social Security Act as constitutional.

I was planing on going in to how this ruling was incredibly controversial and came shortly after President Roosevelt stacked the Supreme Court with the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937.  I was also prepared to dive deeper still into the meaning behind the phrase "general welfare" in both the US Constitution's Preamble and in Article 1 Section 8 from different view points (including direct opposition to James Madison's opinion from Joseph Story's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States) that reinforce the theory that general welfare relates to the United States as a whole and not helping individuals off the streets.  Instead, after a brief conversation with a friend, I decided to look at the belief that it is the federal government's job to help individuals through personal hardships.

Clinging to the phrase "general welfare" in the constitution as meaning "helping poor people" is a week argument.  There are numerous texts that indicate "general welfare" applies to things like interstate roads so that the post office can efficiently deliver your mail without having to take into account different state's traffic laws, navigation standards and the placement of light houses and buoys for ships, and regulating trade between the United States and other countries.  These examples hold true even between differing opinions on how restrictive "general welfare" is on the laws Congress can pass.

So what leads people to believe that the government is required to look out for its citizen's well-being?  Where is it stated that anything the government does is always in the best interest of its people?  What proof is there that government programs are more effective at helping people than private charities?  Who decided that the government knows what is best better than me, my family, my friends, or my community?

The loudest voice in Massachusetts right now for the universal health care plan is arguably Mike Capuano who during his Open Mike event proclaimed that we the people should do our due-diligence when selecting a US Senator because he is the government, and the government can not be trusted.  If I can't trust the government, by admission of representatives of that same government, then why am I to assume that what they are doing is in my best interest?  Shouldn't I be able to trust them if that was the case?

My point boils down to this: the government (by its own admission) can not be trusted blindly.  We the people do not have the capability to live out our lives with all of our daily responsibilities and at the same time watch everything the government tries to do - anyone would go mad trying to.  The only way to ensure that your best interest is met is to have direct control over every aspect of your life that is important to you (retirement, health care, personal savings, charity, etc).  For those less fortunate, the immediate community (family, religion, work groups, neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, states, ect) should feel a responsibility towards those people and help out.  It is a statistical impossibility that the government could ever come up with a program that is capable of helping everyone without hurting anyone.  It is also abundantly clear that even when government programs begin with the best moral intentions, they quickly degrade into slowly-moving, out-dated, bloated bureaucracies whose effectiveness degrades until they ultimately burden the nation more than the initial problem they were created to solve.  The second the government makes a decision for you, your freedom to make the choice for yourself is abolished.  Case in point: I can no longer choose where 6% of my salary goes to because the federal government decided I don't know how to save for my retirement (thanks, Social Security).  What a wonderful burden to have lifted from my back... I should consider myself lucky if I get back exactly what I put back in... wonderful investment strategy - THANKS, government!

So why then is the government left on this high moral pedestal?  Why is it treated with any less skepticism than the "evil corporations" or greedy old "elitists"?   I'm leaving this post with more questions than answers, but this is where I am at this point.  I am absolutely dumbfounded that people will argue for a plan like government health care on the basis that the government's only intention is to help its citizens only to freely admit that the government is full of corruption and self interest on any number of other programs.  If you can definitively identify for me why the government deserves our unyielding trust or what compels the government to act only in the best interest of the people... you get a prize.  Drop me a line in the comments.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Joe Kennedy for Senate 2010

Next year, Massachusetts will be holding special elections to fill the US Senate seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy.  I found that it was actually really hard to find a single source of news that listed all of the candidates... but leave it to the internet swarm to step up and fulfill my needs.  Wikipedia has a really awesome list of candidates that you can check out.  A short Google search for each candidate can expose their platform for your consideration.  I took a look at all of them and settled on my winner.

The Democratic candidates are for the most part pushing hard to maintain Ted Kennedy's reputation of "winning at all costs."  When I visited Mike Capuano's "Open Mike" event, he stressed his approval of passing Social Security and Medicare "without a single Republican vote."  I feel as though people like this only serve to drive the wedge in deeper to further polarize the country which is absolutely not what we need at this time.

The Republicans are similarly polarized in the opposite direction.  The leading candidate, Scott Brown, is still pushing his anti-gay rights agenda.  Really?  Come on, man - Massachusetts has lead the charge on gay rights - so much so that it sued the federal government about discrimination against homosexuals!  How do you expect anyone to believe your commitment to bipartisan cooperation if you are so far out in right field over something this state feels so strongly about?

This leaves the independents (according to Wikipedia): William Coleman and Joe Kennedy.  William Coleman is a "common man" from Worcester... so common in fact that he doesn't even have a campaign website.  I can't find any information about his platform, his stance on issues, or even if he is still in the running.  FAIL.  After that monstrous blunder, my hopes weren't too high for Joe Kennedy (no relation to those Kennedy's).  As you have no doubt determined, I believe that Joe Kennedy is a phenomenal candidate.

Joe is a Computer Scientist by training, but has more recently held managerial positions and has held seats on the board of directors for several companies.  More importantly, his views are what some people would describe as "socially liberal and fiscally conservative."  He is for same-sex relationships and cutting government spending.   His view on health care reform is to make available to everyone Personal Medical Savings Accounts which are tax-free (those not able to save money into accounts would be able to claim all medical spending for tax write-offs) and to end government regulation which stifles free market (FYI: for the last 40 or so years, health care has NOT been a free market).

I've got my candidate for 2010... who are you voting for?  Tell me who and why in the comments.