The Heroic Martyrs of Health Care Reform

The allergic response of the “progressive” left, those great self-proclaimed vindicators of “the people,” to the only genuine popular movement most of them have ever seen has been a remarkable spectacle. If their blogs are any indication, every tea partier with a homemade sign is a racist, Nazi,and  potential assassin with overactive saliva glands. They’ve been waving the bloody shirt non-stop since the health care bill passed, regaling us with hair raising tales of gratuitous vandalism and murderous threats. Instapundit was all over the story last week, with lots of good links to related stories. Examples of the usual ostentatious pious posing on the left can be found here, here, here and here, and reactions on the right here, here, here and here. The “violent mobs” meme was ubiquitous in the MSM and, of course, on NPR, where I noticed they were flogging it relentlessly every half hour or so as I drove to work. (I often wonder whether these people actually believe their own cant and think they’re just reporting the news. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?) Greg Gutfeld has a post about the selective outrage on the left today that hits the nail on the head. His take:

It goes like this: for the media, anger is only okay if its targets meet their stereotypical, romanticized criteria. Meaning: the corporation, the conservative, the daddy who never loved them.

Here’s a list of people doing angry things the media is okay with:

-People calling Bush a Nazi
-Students and non students rioting on college campuses
-Animal rights freaks dousing rich folks with paint
-Actors wishing average folks would get rectal cancer
-Bureaucrats labeling military vets as potential violent right wing extremists
-Radical environmentalists advocating violence against loggers
-Pranksters throwing pies at conservative commentators (you know, somehow they never pie Michael Moore, which makes him sad; he likes pie)

But this health care bill anger is different from all that – not just because it’s right, but because it involves Obama. And being angry at Obama is like being mad at Santa Claus. How can you be mad at Santa, when he brings us so many gifts?

And so, this anger is scary! It’s a mark of incivility! It’s deadly!

In case you’re an NPR reporter and therefore have no clue what Greg is talking about, I suggest you follow some of Instapundit’s links to accounts of threats and violence directed against people you don’t happen to agree with.  You can find examples here, here, here and here.  Now check your archives and find out how obsessive you were about reporting on those stories.  Any questions?  If you want to see what real political intimidation looks like, take a gander at what your pals in Canada have been up to.

Of course, when it comes to the health care bill, the ranting on the right has been at least as loud as that on the left.  Sean Hannity has been making Nathan Hale speeches for months about how the “Louisiana Purchase,” the “Cornhusker Kickback,” and all the related traditional wheeling and dealing in Congress make the health care bill the “most corrupt” ever.  I can only suggest that Sean get a grip and Google Teapot Dome and Credit Mobilier, or perhaps read a little about the history of the big railroads and their penchant for political manipulation in their heyday. 

Indeed, when it comes to pious posing from the moral high ground, the right seems to have achieved parity with the left.  We’ve become a mutual demonization society.  In some sense that’s a good thing, because it demonstrates that in the US, unlike, for example, in Europe, the right has regained a public voice in the form of talk radio, influential bloggers, and Foxnews.  The days when the left had such a monopoly over the public media that they could simply destroy people who criticized them the way they did Richard Nixon are long gone.  Now the right can answer tit for tat, and they are in no mood to be intimidated with the “violent demonstrators” gambit.  Who knows, perhaps cooler heads on both sides will eventually become bored with mutual villification and we will see a gradual easing of the current polarization between left and right.  I’m not holding my breath, though.

Meanwhile, we must grin and bear the burden of another massive government entitlement program.  Obama assures us that it will “cut the deficit.”  If it does, it will certainly be a historical first.  I’m not holding my breath for that, either.  On the other hand, it’s unlikely to cause the collapse of the economy the right seems so worried about any time soon.  Other countries have dealt with and continue to deal with much heavier public debts than ours, although we certainly appear to be catching up with them.  A more likely outcome than the “train wreck” expected on the right is economic malaise similar to that in Japan accompanied by gradually increasing taxation in one form or another and an increasingly discouraging outlook for anyone contemplating any kind of private economic venture.  I can’t rule out one of Nassim Taleb’s “black swans,” but I suspect that the American people will simply accept the continuing metastasization of big government and adapt to the resultant loss of liberty as best they can, just as they have accepted the gradual and continued morphing of our so-called “system of justice” into an abomination in which the only “winners” of legal battles in the courts can be the lawyers.  The train wreck may be coming, but it’s still a long way off.

Ben Franklin on Nationalized Health Care

In 1778, while serving as Minister of the Continental Congress to the French government, Benjamin Franklin received an insulting anonymous letter from some British “gentlemen,” expressing contempt for the American Revolution and the scorn felt by ruling elites in all ages for the common people. His answer was interesting in the context of the current debate over nationalized health care. An excerpt:

The weight, therefore, of an independent empire, which you seem certain of our inability to bear, will not be so great as you imagine; the expense of our civil government we have always borne, and can easily bear, because it is small. A virtuous and laborious people may be cheaply governed, determining, as we do, to have no offices of profit, nor any sinecures, or useless appointments, so common in ancient or corrupted states. We can govern ourselves a year for the sum you pay in a single department, for what one jobbing contractor, by the favour of a minister, can cheat you out of in a single article.

We’ve wandered far from the vision of our Founding Fathers, haven’t we? They valued Liberty. Today the sine qua non is Security, not Liberty, whether for “liberals” or “conservatives.” The left would secure Security with state power. The right would secure it with torture, indefinite detention without trial, and the assumption that “terrorists” are guilty until proven innocent.


Of Tea Parties and Media Bias

The Slant; it’s as obvious from the stories they don’t cover as from the ones they do. For example, for the legacy media, political demonstrations exist in what quantum physicists would call a “virtual state.” They don’t become “real” until, like Schrödinger’s famous cat, they are “measured” by the media. Once they are measured, they become “real.” If they are not measured, they never happened.

Protest 03-20-10

Byron York on Health Care, the IRS, and State Power

Byron York points out the elephant in the closet in the debate over health care reform (hat tip Instapundit for the link):

Should the IRS be involved in health care enforcement in the first place? As seen in the town halls across the country in August, many Americans are concerned about the coercive nature of the proposed national health care system. Handing the IRS the power to monitor every American’s place in the system worries them even more.

Backers of the Democratic bills are betting that the handouts involved — giving people money to buy health insurance — will outweigh concerns about privacy and coercive government. Perhaps. But before Congress makes any decision on national health care, voters should know just what it will involve.

Each new government entitlement program is easy to justify. Noble causes are being served. In the case of health care, for example, who could possibly be mean spirited enough to limit the access of poor people to health care? Obviously, people like that just “don’t understand” the details of the program. They’re being “misinformed” by right wing conservatives.

I rather suspect that most of the opposition to more government involvement in health care is not the result of misinformation on the minutiae of the latest iteration of the plans before Congress. Rather, people are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that such programs actually cost money, and that the money will not be forthcoming unless state power is used to collect it by force.

There are Boycotts, and then there are Boycotts

As Tom Blumer points out:

It becomes more obvious with each passing month that General/Government Motors and Chrysler have permanently lost a large percentage of consumers who won’t buy a vehicle from a bailed-out and/or state-run company. Recent proof: Neither maker had an entry in the top 10 list of the most purchased vehicles under the cash-for-clunkers program (Toyota and Honda had three each, while Ford had two). GM’s share of sales from clunker trade-ins was only 17.6%, well below its already declining market share.

The press probably won’t recognize the informal GM-Chrysler boycott unless and until the doors shut for the final time at these companies, if even then. They’re too busy promoting usually ineffective boycotts with which they agree.

Wonder which boycott will be more effective in the long run? Here’s some anecdotal evidence for you: I will go out of my way to shop at Whole Foods. The chances that I will ever buy another GM product are vanishingly small.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits and Health Care Costs

We are now in the midst of a great national debate over the nationalization of health care. It would be more useful to nationalize the legal profession, for we are fast becoming what the great political theorist Milovan Djilas called a “Land without Justice.” Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, we tolerate the gross injustices we must endure on a daily basis because they have become normal. The legal system didn’t collapse overnight. It became rotten in small increments. We just got used to it. It now amounts to an officially sanctioned, pervasive, and massive system of bribery under which economic existence requires payoffs to legions of lawyers whose “services” to the country are more or less on a par with those of common burglars.

Consider what happens when someone sues their neighbor in this country. Regardless of whether the defendant is innocent or guilty, it will be necessary for him to bear potentially crippling legal fees, not to mention a psychological burden of insecurity that will last for years as the litigation proceeds through the courts. Can anyone explain to me how it is “just” that thousands upon thousands of innocent people must suffer such punishment in our country every year? If we are to avoid this punishment, we are required to pay substantial bribes to the lawyers in the form of high premiums for health, car, and legal insurance. The situation has become intolerable. If we must have big government, let us start by nationalizing the legal industry.

Let us consider how this works out in the case of health care costs. The lawyers tell us that the cost of medical malpractice insurance is insignificant, amounting to less than 2% of total health care costs. According to a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report they often cite, that is quite true. It is also irrelevant. One can see that by looking at a pie chart (hattip Health Guide USA, see below) of our total health care costs. Those costs include a great number of things, such as research, structures and equipment, home health care, hospital care, etc., which figure either relatively little or not at all in the overall medical litigation picture. In fact, such litigation is concentrated overwhelmingly in the “physicians and clinical services” portion of the pie chart, and to only a fraction of that. It is cold comfort to the many physicians who must pay exorbitant malpractice insurance premiums, amounting to many tens, and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, that those premiums only amount to 2% of the nation’s total health care costs of about $2.5 trillion. For them, the burden is a lot more than 2% of their income. The argument is about as logical as a burglar attempting to justify his acts because, after all, the total take of thieves in the U.S. is less than 2% of the total military budget.

In return for this extortion, the lawyers explain to us that we all profit by improved health care. In fact, according to the CBO report they so often cite themselves,

Defenders of current tort law sometimes argue that restrictions on malpractice liability could undermine the deterrent effect of such liability and thus lead to higher rates of medical injuries. However, it is not obvious that the current tort system provides effective incentives to control such injuries. One reason for doubt is that health care providers are generally not exposed to the financial cost of their own malpractice risk because they carry liability insurance, and the premiums for that insurance do not reflect the records or practice styles of individual providers but more-general factors such as location and medical specialty. Second, evidence suggests that very few medical injuries ever become the subject of a tort claim. The 1984 New York study estimated that 27,179 cases of medical negligence occurred in hospitals throughout the state that year, but only 415—or 1.5 percent—led to claims. In short, the evidence available to date does not make a strong case that restricting malpractice liability would have a significant effect, either positive or negative, on economic efficiency.

In a word, the only ones who gain anything from the suffering and expense that health litigation entails are the lawyers themselves. They gain big time, and that’s the only reason our organized system of bribery continues. This is true not only of health care, but of accident litigation and any other activity in which lawyers can exploit human greed to inflict their “services” on the rest of us.

Suppose, however, that the effects of all this costly litigation are really all the lawyers tell us they are. Suppose it really does weed out bad doctors. Suppose it really does improve health care. Suppose it really does compensate the victims of malpractice, and only them, for the injury they have suffered. Would that, somehow, justify punishing the innocent with the guilty, forcing them to bear high legal fees, years of anxiety, and days wasted in litigation? Was that the dream of our founding fathers? “Let 100 innocent suffer as long as we can catch one who is really guilty?” That was the ethic of the Gulag. It seems to me that only those who have been profoundly corrupted by greed can really believe such a thing. And yet that is the kind of system we have, not only in medical malpractice, but in all other tort litigation. Odd, isn’t it, that all the worthy “experts” in ethics our universities have been pumping out never seem to object to this travesty of justice, or at least not loudly enough to make themselves heard?

The private practice of law in the United States has been corrupted beyond repair. The government has nationalized large sectors of the financial and automobile industries, and is in the process of nationalizing health care. While they’re at it, they should do something really useful, and nationalize the legal profession.


The Morons Have Ye Always With You…


Just when I thought the “progressive” boycott of Whole Foods took the cake for stupidity, these pinheads show up at an Obama event.

Pinheads, that is, unless they are agents provocateurs. In that case they are brilliant, because it’s hard to imagine a more effective way of dealing a blow to gun rights and private health care. As an added bonus, they played nicely into the hands of European hatemongers, who can be relied on not to miss such a golden opportunity to feed the anti-American stereotypes of their readers.

Update: According to LGF, they’re not agents provocateurs.


Aha! Oho! Astroturf!!

Josh Marshall reels in a genuwine GOP staffer, thereby proving beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt that every single one of the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve shown up at the thousands of tea parties across the nation has been a mindless zombie under the control of a vast right wing astroturfing conspiracy.

…lean closer and I’ll tell you something else about these “teabaggers.” Closer… sshhhhhh… Most of them are white!