Posts Tagged ‘freedom’
Listening to defenders of The Affordable Care Act (The ACA, aka ObamaCare),it’s easy to believe the lynchpin issue is whether one is Pro-Life or Pro-Choice.
Those who fully understand The ACA would agree–but in a completely different way.
The big issue is NOT whether or not we should be providing contraception or abortion, but whether patients and their doctors should an active role in making choices, AND whether or not the right to live should be more important than cost-effectiveness as interpreted in Patient Care Guidelines.
The notion that opposition to The ACA is evidence of greedy indifference by those who don’t care about others is misguided. Most Americans are generous and compassionate. Without coercion, Americans willingly give to churches, charities and causes. When disasters, like the 2011 earthquake in Japan occur, Americans eagerly reach out to help. I was reminded of another American outpouring of compassion, on the anniversary of September 11th. The Wall Street Journal reported a private fund has already awarded more than 80 million dollars in scholarships to children of the victims of that terrible tragedy.
The biggest misconception about socialized medicine is that it is free and/or paid for by the government. Neither is true–unless you don’t consider the money you work for your own. The money that pays for nationalized healthcare comes from ordinary working folks, who may have trouble paying their bills, providing for their families, or saving for the kid’s college or their own retirement. Though it isn’t unreasonable for us to be expected to use some of what we make to take care of the medical needs of our families, when we share the cost of paying for others, there isn’t anyway healthcare can remain affordable.
Whether or not you consider The Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be the “socialization” of medicine, it is built on certain amount of collectivism. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most forms of health insurance today, utilizing health management groups–like HMOs, also rely on collectivism to keep them solvent–meaning that expenses and resources are shared.
In one way, it is not so different from joining a joining a grocery co-op. A grocery co-op requires a buy-in, but in return members get a share of whatever the co-op has to offer In a farmer’s market cooperative, members may get juicy peaches, fresh picked berries, eggplants or Brussels sprouts. The value to members is contingent on their willingness to sacrifice some choice, because offerings are limited to what’s available–whether or not it is what members would ordinarily buy.
If you don’t mind giving up some choice, cooperatives can offer great value, but Americans are used to making their own choices. Whether it be what flavor of toothpaste, what clothes, or foods we eat, free markets offer multiple choices as a way of competing. Because the ACA is designed to stifle competition, it aims too eliminate the ability of Americans (and their doctors) to make individualized healthcare choices.
In addition to the things yet to be decided by The Secretary of Health and Human Services, like what you will be required to pay, what insurers will cover, which treatments will approved, and what kinds of drugs can be prescribed, are Patient Care Guidelines–which also currently under construction. These guidelines will do to healthcare what McDonald’s has done to fast food by eliminating room for interpretation.
Neither you, nor you doctor will be able to get around the federally mandated Patient Care Guidelines. There will be no more experimental or alternative treatments–unless they are established and approved by Patient Care Guidelines. Every patient will have access only to what government has approved. There will no longer be any flexibility for doctors who want to try something different, when a patient doesn’t respond to what has already been tried. The choice to have a c-section or a vaginal birth will no longer be yours to make, because the Patient Care Guidelines will determine for you when a c-section is appropriate.
The Patient Care Guidelines will prescribe whether or not elderly patients will be treated, despite differences between health active seniors and their peers. Patient Care Guidelines will also determine “End of Life” (state-sanctioned euthanasia) guidelines like those already in use by The U.K.’s National Health Service. Being “fully-covered” will provide a false sense of security, until America’s collective consciousness, comes to terms with the way in which Patient Care Guidelines, assign a price tag to life.
Patient Care Guidelines are necessary to control costs, and will be used in conjunction with another cost-controlling mechanism–The Independent Payment Advisory Boards (IPABs). In our current insurance-based system, insurers routinely deny costly treatments, but patients still have the right to appeal those decisions. The Federal Government will not offer the same flexibility.
These board will be comprised of 15 presidential appointees, who are given the authority to propose cuts to Medicare (without congressional approval) whenever Medicare spending exceeds government targets. (This in in direct contrast to the arguments that the ACA is good for seniors, as there is no way to know what kinds of cuts will be necessary in the future.) Though this provision is written in such a way as to make “rationing” care illegal, the Patient Care Guidelines provide a legal (if underhanded) way of doing exactly that.
So, like a co-op member who becomes dissatisfied after getting too many Brussels sprouts, and not enough berries, it may take a few years before Americans become disillusioned by the implications of The Great American Healthcare Cooperative. In the meantime, American goodwill will be tested, as we collectively absorb the costs of paying for things we aren’t getting or don’t want.
It is unlikely that paying for contraceptives and abortions would ever have enough financial impact, to have justified making it a recurrent theme at the recent Democratic convention, but it won’t be long before ordinary Americans begin realizing the impact of federal mandates that dictate not only what isn’t covered, but what MUST be. Already, there has been an outcry from those whose religious beliefs are compromised by being required to share costs for things the oppose. Catholics and other pro-life believers are justified in feeling this is an unfair impingement on their religious beliefs, if for no other reason than the waivers given to Scientologists and Muslims, and The Church of Big Labor on the basis of theirs.
However, even the non-religious may take issue with the ACA, upon realizing they have to buy into a plan that pays for gender-reassignment surgeries, while putting limits on breast, and other, reconstructive surgeries. So, thought you may not require or desire gender reassignment surgery, and may not be opposed to anyone else having one, when you are denied a surgery you do require, you may begin to feel the ill-fit of of one-size-fits-all coverage. Americans must now decide whether the illusory security of “full coverage” under nationalized healthcare, is of more value than the ability to make their own choices regarding life and death. In the meantime, there is an upside…Americans won’t be forced to share the medical costs for Scientologists like Tom Cruise, Greta Van Susteren or John Travolta.
Deb’s Note: This is the fifth post devoted to explaining the Affordable Care Act–aka ObamaCare. I have chosen to write about this subject, because I believe women need to know how it will affect their families and/or loved ones. It is always my intention to uplift and empower women with what I write, but last week’s post re: the ACA was so depressing, even I was in a funk–which is why last week’s post ended up in the trash bin. Just a couple more posts to wrap this subject, then I hope to move on to less-serious subjects.
I have a college degree and some other educational credentials. They are mostly useless, but I have them. I have yet to apply for a job where it mattered whether or not I had anything other than a college degree, yet the two least prestigious pieces of parchment I hold are the most significant to me. They are my high school diploma and my certificate in mariachi music.
A few years ago, a college in my area became the first in the United States (and I believe the world) to offer an accredited program in the study of Mariachi. I had been dabbling in mariachi for some time and made it my goal to be the first person to receive that degree. A friend of mine beat me to the pole position, but I was still able to become the first woman to ever receive this degree in a genre of music which was once exclusively the domain of men.
This might lead you to believe I’m an accomplished or scholarly musician. I am not. In fact, compared to my peers, I’m a hack. I suppose, if I were highly motivated I could parlay what I’ve learned into some kind of lucrative livelihood. Certainly my rudimentary knowledge of mariachi music, history and instruments would qualify me to teach, and while that might be a good fallback, it wasn‘t my motivation. To me, this degree is indicative of what it means to be an American.
I was born in America, taught to salute the flag and pledge allegiance to it. I was taught the principles of The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States. I was born in the time before being a celebrity meant having a platform for expressing contempt for America. In fact, when I was young, being anti-American could still get stars black-listed in Hollywood.
I was taught The Pilgrims were decent folk who came here seeking religious freedom. Now, school children are taught that the pilgrims represent the ruination of Native America. My ancestors were pilgrims, but not the Mayflower kind. As your ancestors probably were, they were just pilgrims seeking a better life for their families.
One side of my family came from Europe, the other from Mexico. Both came to The United States, because this country offered freedom, education, economic opportunity and a life free of government hostility. You’ve heard it all before, but the opportunities and freedoms unique to this country have given many the chance to build a better life. It was certainly true for my family.
In my grandmother’s country, she didn’t go to school. From the time she was very young until her death, she worked.
There are still countries in the world where children work, instead of going to school.
My mother’s life in this country meant she learned a new language and was able to go to school.
There are still countries where girls are not allowed to go to school.
When my mother left home, she set her sights on becoming a nurse.
There are still countries where governments decide what you will become.
She met my father, and married him two weeks later.
There are still countries where younger daughters must wait for older daughters to be married and husbands are selected by parents.
In just a few years, she had gone from living in a poor two-room house to living The American Dream in a home with bedrooms, heat and indoor plumbing.
What might take generations in many other countries, can be achieved here in decades.
I am grateful for having been allowed to go to school free of political indoctrination. I am glad to have been able to decide for myself where I would live, what I would do, and who I would marry. I am glad to have been able to work beside men, choose my own religious beliefs and receive a paycheck in return for my work. Surrounded by nice cars, appliances, and electronics, it is easy for Americans to take things for granted.
Our clothes, our shoes, our abundance of food, our books, our medicines would be luxuries in many other countries.
I am thankful for my high school diploma, because in those years, I learned something many schools no longer teach. I learned to be proud of this country. I am proud of the degree in mariachi. because it reminds me people of any race can come here, without sacrificing their cultural pride.
In other parts of the world, being a different race means being a target of genocide.
This country isn’t perfect. Our history is rife with mistakes. The politics of our country may leave us discouraged or disgusted, but individuals have the right to expose the flaws of our government.
In some countries, governments control access to information.
We can speak out against our leaders, without fear of retaliation. Men and women are allowed a vote.
In many countries, the citizens have neither a voice, nor a vote.
If I had been educated today, I might be ashamed of America. While there are certainly many shameful and regrettable things in our past, like slavery, our treatment of Native Americans, the bombing of Hiroshima, segregation, our economic policies, or some of our other military actions; this nation has done it’s best to respect the worth of the individual. We haven’t always gotten it right, but no other country in the world has demonstrated a greater commitment to freedom and democracy for all people.
America isn’t done making mistakes, but there isn’t a place I’d rather live. It is no small thing to be a woman who has opportunities and the right to make her own decisions in regards to her body, her family, and her future. Each time I drive past the plot of land where my mother once lived, I am moved. I am thankful for the opportunities America has given to me and to so many others. For being a woman born in America, I am as grateful as those pilgrims were on that first Thanksgiving.
May God bless and preserve all the best things about America.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Within each of us is the desire for autonomy, aka freedom. There is no freedom apart from the acknowledgment of an individual’s worth. When leaders decide who has value or who is worthy of respect, the end of freedom is near.
Yesterday I was looking at a copy of The Constitution of the United States. It reads somewhat like a school handbook, but The Declaration of Independence is a piece of literature worthy of study and praise. I am always moved by how it recognizes the sovereignty and worth of the individual.
The unalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, could easily be the basis of a religion, but instead they are the foundation of a country, which by not promoting religion, grants religious freedom. There are many who would prefer to see references to a creator or a god expunged from The Declaration of Independence, in order to make it more egalitarian, but there is not a more egalitarian credo in the secular world. The recognition of an unnamed god, does not establish the nation as Judeo/Christian. Instead, it establishes the right for individuals to name their own god. You may call your god Gaia, Vishnu, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Jehovah, Darwin,Karl Marx, Karl Rove, Karl Malone or even declare God nonexistent.
It is a document which allows the right to commit mass suicide in order to meet the Mother Ship or pay thousands of dollars to an institution which promises to electronically help clarify thoughts. It is a document that establishes our right to marry in a synagogue, LDS Temple, or on a beach. It is a document that allows us to eat animals or embrace veganism. It is a document that respects the rights of the individual, the worth of the human spirit, and a document that affords us the right to be wrong.
It is often said that religion is the opiate of the masses. The quote is attributed to Karl Marx, but credit for calling religion an opiate, goes to The Marquis de Sade. The most oppressive regimes prescribe their own religions, as the Taliban did; or erect their governing heads as the supreme authority, as Kim Jong Il has in North Korea. If religion is indeed the opiate of the masses, why do the worst regimes in the world go to such great lengths to eliminate religious freedom? It is because religions allow people to consider their own value and purpose.
As I child, I was plagued with religious questions. For as long as I can remember I’ve had questions, the answers to which have lead to a distillation of my own beliefs. Like every other person of faith, I am convinced my beliefs are true. Believing is an act of faith, sometimes based on evidence, sometimes not. Just as I did as a child, I still have questions. Some people think having questions represents spiritual weakness. I believe questions are necessary to determine what is true.
Over the years, I’ve sat through many kinds of religious services, in each followers were convinced they had found truth. When we subscribe to a spiritual practice, whether it is meditation, doing good works, fasting, performing sacraments or murdering innocents, it requires faith. Followers do what they do, because they believe, and while most religions require faith, they should never require the suspension of reason. Even those whose religion is Evolution, will affirm the brain is not a vestigial organ.
Religion is not an opiate, it is an exercise of intellect, by which we try to find freedom from our fears, our nature, and our failings. Our beliefs give purpose to our existence. Whether you believe the origin of humanity to be an act of nature or the artistry of a creator, whether or not your beliefs include a deity, it requires no faith to know you are a unique individual with a life which yearns for purpose.
Being an American means amazing abundance–whether it be food, shoes, cars, TVs–Americans have much. We don’t dream of bread or stand in line for bread–we choose from the dozens of loaves available and toss out our excess.
It means education and opportunity–everything is available for those who are willing to make an effort to get it. As true as it ever was, in America you can be whatever you want to be.
It means our communities are unique and vibrant, with little pockets in every city steeped in ethnic culture. It means a government and society which embrace people of all races. For many who come here, it means never again living in war-torn cities or under government oppression. In America “genocide” is a term learned in school, not a reality.
Being American means freedom to think independently and give voice to those thoughts.
It means we can freely disagree about how the country is run–we can freely express contempt for our governments.
It means that our votes are counted–the results of elections are not pre-determined.
It means the freedom to pray or not–freedom to worship or not.
It means that we have better stuff –even stuff most of us don’t think about–like better medicine, better dental care, better roads, better bridges, and even too much stuff in our closets or garages. It means we have more to be thankful for than most even take time to recognize.
Being an American means you can take it all for granted–and even complain about the generosity of a country that provides, welfare, unemployment, Social Security, food stamps, Head Start, medical care for the disadvantaged and too many other programs to count! It means that when you fail to provide for yourself, you can blame the government for your plight and complain that they won’t do more.
Being an American means that every single day there is something to be thankful for.
In America there are many who resent those they see as having been born with an economic advantage. There are those who believe that others have it easier, as if they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths.
I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, because I was born in the USA.
Because I am forever a girl, Memorial Day is special to me. When I was little, it was the day after which it became acceptable for women to wear white clothes & shoes–only one of many freedoms it brought. Days spent playing in the sprinklers, late afternoon-air filled with the smell of meat cooked over charcoal and late evenings best spent out doors–summer has never been finer. The unofficial start of the summer vacation season, with longer days and warmer temperatures, is as exhilarating to me now, as it was when summer was three months of freedom.
Memorial Day will never feel the same to my children–because they’ve always attended year-round schools. They’ve never known long lazy summers like the ones I used to enjoy. Neither will they experience the melancholy which afflicts me after Labor Day, when the summer season winds down until the next year.
It’s been ages since I was a schoolgirl, looking forward to those seemingly endless summers, but the carefree innocence of those days is one of many things lost. Days in the town square with trips to the candy store for a Sno-Cone and evenings eating ice cream while watching softball games are among many youthful pleasures long gone, but fondly remembered.
Memorial Day is a good time to remember. While most holidays celebrate good things, Memorial Day is about sad things–remembering things lost.
This year, I’ll spend Memorial Day in the old hometown with family & friends. My brother and I will take time to go visit the graves of family members we’ve lost. I’ll spend time with my crew of cousins–the Brown-eyed Girls. I’ll take time to enjoy a long slow cigar with one of my oldest girlfriends.
I’m not a cigar smoker, but I make an exception for her. The night my father was buried, we watched the sunset over his grave and smoked a cigar. The talk and the closeness to one with whom it’s too late to be guarded, shored up my spirit as I did my best to reconcile my father’s body in the ground and the loss of his presence in my life.
Now, the cigar is symbolic of how long we’ve been friends, because that same girlfriend is one with whom, I whiled away many days of those summer vacations of years gone-by. Our days were filled with dolls, forts, first boyfriends–eventually husbands replaced boyfriends, children replaced dolls and houses replaced tree-forts. I can think of no better way to begin summer than remembering and celebrating an enduring friendship.
Life and the things we look forward to are over too soon. Things like childhood, graduations, weddings, holidays and life come and go too quickly. Once the graduations and June weddings begin, the pace of summer will be too fast for a kid like me. That’s why this weekend I’ll take it easy. As I enjoy the company of some of my favorite people, I’ll be remembering how long summer used to be.
Deb’s Note: Lest the significance of Memorial Day is diminished by my nostalgic sentiments, Wednesday’s blog addresses what the holiday is really about.