Sunday, August 16, 2009

Two parts does not a spectrum make

The following is a white paper of The Jacksonian Party.

How bad is the 'health care reform' 'debate'?

Two items of note display just how badly stultified 'debate' is in America.

First from Instapundit's reader Quent Cordair on what he saw at the protest rally against 'health care reform' in San Francisco:

I was there all afternoon, protesting with a dozen friends from the Golden Gate Objectivists club. Even more proof that there was a disturbance in the force: from what I saw, there was only one lonely counter-protester all afternoon! She’s the one in the video, pacing the back of the crowd with the sign “Who would Jesus insure?” with “Answer: Everybody!” on the sign’s reverse. During a few minutes of silence being solemnly observed by the protesters, marking the politicians’ refusal to hear our concerns, the counter-protestor continued to frenetically march around the perimeter, chanting loudly, “Free Health Care For Everyone!” We endured her silently for awhile, until someone raised the responding chant, “Free Beer For Everyone!” The counter-protester gave up and went away. It was a good day.

The second is an article is linked by Jonah Goldberg from his Liberal Fascism site at NRO, and it goes to a blog article at the Baltimore Sun which clearly doesn't understand Godwin's Law.  The interesting part is not the article, itself, but the commentary which follows and one thing, in my mind, that is clearly missing from all 'health care reform' 'debate' that is going on today.  I will give the very broadest of overview summary of the major positions held in the commentary:

First is that government is the better 'option' for providing health care to 'everyone'.

Second is that private businesses are better able to do this and that the system, itself does not need a full scale overhaul.


In fact nearly all 'debates' I have seen, all commentary at blogs and what little I watch of television have these two centered in the 'debate'.  This debate is so skewed, so twisted, that a woman could hold up a basic WWJD sign and posit that GOVERNMENT is the choice of JESUS.

Now think about that for just a moment.

If you were sick and couldn't get to Jesus, would he instruct the messenger to have the sick person supplicate to the Roman Empire?

Can you even begin to imagine that?

I can't!  I'm no Christian scholar, no daily reader of the Holy Bible, nor much of a mind reader, but just based on what Jesus did and said in his life (and he could heal with just a touch, do remember that) can you imagine that he would send someone to the tender mercies of the Roman Empire for care?  It was this same Jesus who would have us render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is God's, and that the greatest good we can do in our lives is to take care of each other.  That is YOU caring for the sick, the poor, the needy and those who are less well off in mind, body and spirit than YOU are.

Have the State look after the medical and spiritual needs of the sick and needy?

Would Jesus really say that?

Of course he wouldn't, he wanted to make sure that people understood that the State can not do everything and that all of our Earthly works are under God's domain and that we are to understand that God does not rule directly and that we are to demonstrate our worthiness of spirit in this realm so we can receive the rewards of the next after we die.  What a horrific thing to imply, that Jesus would want the State involved in your health and the life and death decisions of your own, personal, care.  That is totally ignoring YOUR responsibility to PERSONALLY care for the poor, the sick, the needy, which demonstrate how much you actually have the good nature necessary for an easy transition to the after-life.

Beyond that, however, I examine in a personal article the major problem with the debate as it has been staged and winnowed down to a 'two choices out of all choices spectrum'.  That winnowing down does not even consider, as seen at the Baltimore Sun's commentators (at least up to a day or so ago when I first started going through the commentary) that there is a third and completely viable, low overhead, efficient and open to all means of providing health care.  Yet this third way is never, not once, talked about and our tax code is set up to create big insurance companies which can out-compete this third form of care via the spiraling of costs that goes with subsidizing care and medications via the tax code.  This third method does not have money to invest in lobbyists to get it further tax breaks because it is so efficient it can not justify getting them.  Yet that very efficiency leaves them at the mercy of a spiraling cost market with no regulator, no Congress, no President willing to sponsor legislation that will PROTECT them from these costs and LEVEL the playing field so as to encourage this third way to survive and thrive, so as to provide MORE coverage to the poor and needy.

In my article I look at other things that need to be done including tort reform to limit damages to actual costs to fix malpractice problems (even if they are disabling that person is due for the health they once had for their normal life) but without the pain and suffering awards lottery that drives up insurance costs beyond all recognition for health care providers. 

Second is to treat health care as an investment and provide vehicles so that individuals with predispositions to certain medical problems can purchase major treatments years or decades before they are needed and then have a guarantee of that procedure at a given future time when it is redeemable.  This would allow individuals to address their family history and begin the hard process of admitting they may not be young and healthy forever, but need future care.  This is a form of direct investment to the health care industry and an encouragement to sustain new and innovative research to specific problems by institutions that would be pre-funded for delivery of care.  In this way the cost of treatment will decline as better procedures are found, and the institution providing such care will now have a long-term investment stream that will be based on how well they provide services now and are preparing to provide them in the future.  This investment, like all investments, can be bought, sold and traded so that when you move you can get a fair market equivalent between what you invested in one locale versus another.

Third is to make donations to HSAs tax-free so as to lower the burdened cost of health care by removing the tax burden on it.  Likewise is to encourage businesses to contribute to their employees accounts on a tax free basis, letting their employees manage accounts which roll-over and grow year-to-year.   So long as money is withdrawn for health care expenses it is not taxed, at all.  This would encourage people to invest in their future health care so that when that most expensive last year of life arrives, they can PAY FOR IT.  Lower the tax burden, now, so we can lower the overall cost, later.

The last major way I look at, however, is this unmentioned way of doing things.

You know, the one that Jesus told us about?

And it is the system being ruined by modern health care even though it was once the sustaining method of providing care to the poor, the sick, the elderly and those who could not afford treatment at for-profit institutions.  It is not the way of the State or of corporations.

It is the way of Charity.

After the 2004 Christmas Tsunami, the #1 largest contributor to recovery and relief to that region was, bar none, the American People via the charitable institutions we have.  Number 2 was our government.  All others pale in comparison and even our government ran substantially behind the power of the American People to do good on their own.

The efficient hourly rate of providing services in the US government, at best, is 65%.  That is the burdened hourly rate of return for every dollar put in to the very best of government agencies, which, strangely enough, resides at that most scorned part of DoD.  That 65% represents the 65 cents on each dollar that is spent actually doing work, with the rest of the time spent on paperwork, unnecessary time spent for non-productive uses, and other overhead that eats up time, like filling out forms, going to EEO seminars and the like.  Almost every meeting could be included in that, but I would like to keep the best above 65% and the government and industry do not count them that way, by and large.

Commercial industry in the same sector provides 80% efficiency: 80 cents on the dollar is spent in productive work hours.  Remember the best of government does not hold a candle to the average of industry.  So here is a prime factor of why so many on the 'conservative' and Right want government to butt out of trying to provide health care: it is horrifically inefficient at best and the government average is 55%, meaning that delta is picked up for by the American taxpayer.

These two are at loggerheads on the Left and Right and have so turned the debate into pap that they do not look at the next most efficient form of providing care and services.

Charity has its own overhead rate analysis and that typically falls between 7-15% waste or 85-93% efficiency.  Yes United Way is corrupt and falls down to 65% but Direct Relief International is at 1%.  That latter flies materials to disaster areas on a global basis and keeps stocks of donated goods ready at a moment's notice to provide immediate and direct relief to those who are stricken by disasters.  Thus the worst of charities compares with the best of government, the average of charities out works the commercial sector and no one, literally no other institution on the planet can touch the very best and most efficient and dedicated of charities.


And yet we do not give our citizens a full tax write-off to donate to Charity.  Nor do we give a tax write-off on even a minimum wage basis for those who donate time to Charitable works.

Even with that, the American People are the largest donor to Charitable works on the planet, outstripping all governments and when you include the time spent by Americans performing Charity to their fellow citizens, there is no Nation on the planet that provides as much time, effort, and energy as the American People to helping our fellow man.  Not only at home but on a global basis.

But we discriminate and heavily AGAINST charitable donations and provide SUBSIDIES to commercial industry?

What the hell is up with that?

You would think that those on the Right who are 'good Christians' would be bellowing in outrage that we subsidize commerce and discriminate against Charity!  Yet I can't find a peep about this on the Right.

And on the Left you would think that providing no cost care to the poor and means tested care to everyone else would be the MODEL that they would push for, to show that the great good of helping our fellow man is worth supporting and that everyone pays what they can afford to get such care while the good citizens of the Nation make up the rest.  Do they do that?  NO.  They seek to tax ALL CHARITABLE DONATIONS and discriminate further in support of undermining Charity and supporting Big Businesses that would result so that they an be 'regulated' by government and become the lap dogs of government.  No good word for Charity and our personal responsibility to aid our fellow man is ever, not once, spoken of without, in the very same breath, the concept of government being stated.

This is not a 'debate' that is looking at the best ways to cut costs, seek efficient care, ensure that the poor are not burdened to get care and that everyone else pays what they can afford.

It is, instead, a debate between Big Government supporters and Big Business supporters and no one, ever, talking about our responsibility to our fellow man as a personal burden that we each must carry on our own, to demonstrate that we can, indeed, do good works and are worthy individuals who hold that care as important enough to donate time and effort to.  Both seek to shift that burden from your shoulders and put it on someone else's who will NOT do a good a job of holding the spending accountable as Charity does.  After the Christmas Tsunami of 2004 the first groups to cite waste, fraud and abuse of donated goods and money was CHARITIES who served as the watch dog on ALL the donations for the region.  They pointed out the corruption, waste and abuse of funds by large donors and recipients, and then changed their own giving ways to go to those that WOULD deliver relief without the corruption.

Charity did that.

Not governments.

Not commercial enterprises.


Charity that actually wants to deliver goods and services to the needy at the lowest cost possible to help the greatest number possible and never have to turn away the stricken.

Just try to get anyone to say a good word about Charity and how it needs our support to thrive and benefit all our citizens.  As it helps not just those receiving such help, but those giving it who know that they are creating a stronger society by easing such burdens and doing good works for their fellow man.

I can't find that in the modern 'debate', this actually doing the things being said that are wanted to be done by those willing and able to do it.  Regulation I can find lots of.  Helping our fellow man directly?

Lotsa luck, I tellya.

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