Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Exercising the First Two Amendments

It’s always good to hear from The Second Amendment Correspondent. It’s been too long since we sat down over dinner and discussed everything from work and mutual acquaintances to what’s wrong with the world. His comments to a previous post are, as always, thoughtful and thought-provoking. In the spirit of energetic discourse, here are some of the thoughts he provoked (his comments in italics for reference):

Some good points. Not enough. Health inspectors? As someone who has dealt with them, I can tell you they don't protect us anywhere near what you think. Look at all the food related scandals we've had lately. And no, likely they wouldn't be worse without them in many cases. After all, the USDA and FDA approved "Pink Slime".

No argument about pink slime and the other food issues the past few years. Two things to consider: isn’t it odd how things got worse when the inspectors’ budgets started to get cut. Also, let’s not forget our history. Do we really want to go back to the way things were a hundred years ago, where food safety was balanced against profits? Unless you’re planning on growing your own food, someone has to be the impartial arbiter.

Most people who do the research realize that the TSA isn't actually protecting us anywhere near what the government would like us to believe. News organizations routinely wander around the baggage area and on the runway without interference. Thank God the terrorists haven't figured that out yet (although I can't imagine why not).

No defense of TSA here, but is the solution to go to a private security firm? Seems to me for-profit companies were running airline security on September 11, 2001. How’d that work out?

The main issue with the healthcare package is that it requires an enormous amount of money to support it. More than we can pay. People forget that the real provisions don't kick in until 2014 as enough money needed to be collected upfront to pay for it. That is if our "expert" politicians don't raid it like they have Social Security (which by the way isn't an entitlement as we all pay into it).

The United States spends more on defense than the world’s next nineteen countries combined. We build sports stadiums for hundreds of millions of dollars apiece. We can’t afford to ensure everyone has decent, basic, health care? We keep hearing about what we can’t afford. It’s not that we can’t afford these things; we don’t want to pay for them.

No defense here of how Social Security has been treated, though there seems to be some confusion over who is more at fault for this. Generally speaking, the least fiscal responsibility is exercised when so-called conservatives are in charge. Over the past thirty years—maybe even fifty—deficits are more likely to rise when conservative hold power then liberals.

Our government has consistently shown itself to be unreliable and untrustworthy in many cases whenever we allow it more power. Why we would entrust the government with any more regulatory power than it already has baffles me.

We have a large number of elected officials who ran on the platform of “government is the problem,” so it is now in their best interests to ensure government is the problem. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One example, anyone know how many regulations govern the production and distribution of ground beef? Something that has had multiple outbreaks of e. coli infestation? Take a guess - and you'll be wrong.
There are 40,000 regulations covering ground beef. And no, I didn't put too many zeroes there. So, with 40,000 regulations and all the inspectors out there, they still can't prevent widespread contamination of ground beef.

There are a couple of ways to look at this. One, there are clearly too many regulations. We need fewer regs, better enforced. On the other hand, I doubt anyone sat around making up regulations out of thin air. Regulations are like the rules of sports: new one come up when someone finds a way around the old ones. The truth is somewhere between those two extremes.

But, we think they can regulate healthcare (remember, pass it so you can find out what's in it?)

We all knew the key elements in the Affordable Care Act:
· Young adults can now stay on their parent’s health plan up to age 26.
· Some small businesses with fewer than 25 employees can get help paying for the cost of providing health insurance.
· Insurance companies can’t deny health coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions.
· Adults who have been uninsured for at least 6 months and have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition may now get coverage.
· Insurance companies can’t place dollar limits on the health care they cover in your lifetime. 
· Those in the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” get a 50 percent discount on name-brand prescription drugs and a 7 percent discount on generic prescription drugs.
· Those in Medicare can get preventive services and screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, at no cost to them. 
· New health plans must offer preventive and screening services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, at no cost to the patient. 
Down the Road
· Insurance companies won’t be able to deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing conditions.
· Health insurance will cover essential health benefits and coverage will be guaranteed for nearly all Americans. 
· Most Americans will be required to purchase health insurance if they don’t already have it – and depending on your income, they may get help paying for it. 
· Insurance companies won’t be able to place dollar limits on the care they cover in a single year. 
· Americans without health insurance will be able to buy it through state-based marketplaces called exchanges. 
· More Americans will have access to health coverage through Medicaid.

None of these exist in a health care market run by the open market. We also knew there were no death panels in it.

Tea Party advocates are proud to pull out Revolutionary War slogans; “Don’t tread on me” is a favorite. There are two they conveniently forget. You never see them wave the flag showing the snake cut into thirteen pieces, and you never hear them recalling Benjamin Franklin’s words: We must all hang together, or we will all must certainly hang separately. The United States became the richest and most powerful nation in history during a period of social liberalism, where the words “To who much is given, much is expected” had real meaning. The current every man for himself, devil take the hindmost mentality has a good chance of undoing all of that. Everything good that has happened to this country over the past seventy years could have happened elsewhere; there but for the grace of God. Everything bad that has happened elsewhere can also happen here if we’re not careful of the legacy we have been handed.

Right Winger, and proud of it.

My good friend, and happy to have you. I’d post here more often for this kind of response.