Tag Archives: socialism

The Worst of the Health Insurance Bill

     I want to start with a question. Why have advocates of the President’s health insurance bill referred to it as a “health care” bill.  Is the government going to build hospitals and hire doctors in order to provide health care for everyone?  No, the government is going to provide some kind of new health-insurance program and mandate certain policies for existing health insurance providers.  So let’s stop calling it a health care program and call it what it is–government-sponsored health insurance.  And let’s stop saying that people in America do not get health care.  With few exceptions, people have access to health care in America, although not everyone is covered by health insurance.

     Now on to my main topic–the three worst aspects of the health insurance program being proposed by the administration and Congress. 

The government will not call the fees it imposes taxes: “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax imposed by this chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under this chapter or for purposes of section 55.” (page 203, lines 13-18)

What makes this provision bad is that it tricks people into believing that the government’s health insurance program will not cause taxes to be raised.  By not calling a tax, a tax, people will believe that they are getting absolutely free health care, as if doctors and nurses are suddenly working out of the goodness of their hearts and as if hospitals do not have to pay the utility bills.

The government will not let you sue over coverage limits and costs decisions: “There shall be no administrative or judicial review of a payment rate or methodology established under this section or under section 224.” (page 124, line 4–page 125, line 2)

I had brought up this subject before.  If a private insurance company fails to provide promised coverage, their customers have legal recourse.  It is not always easy, but an individual or group can sue a private insurance company for breach of contract or otherwise failing to cover people according to the law.  Can you sue the government?  Apparently not.  You and I will be at their mercy when it comes to getting the care that we need.

The government will ration your care: Establish an annual limitation on cost sharing to ensure that “the cost-sharing incurred . . . with respect to an individual (or family) for a year does not exceed the applicable level specified–$5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family.” (29.4-29.16)

So it’s there in black and white.  You will be covered, but only so much.  Under a private insurance plan, you decide how much coverage you get, based on what you think you need and what you are willing to pay out of your own pocket.  You can purchase extra policies, as I have, to cover catastrophic illnesses or accidents.  Under the government system, it sounds like you had better not get too sick or need too many tests or operations.

This section of the bill does not seem to mean what the folks at World Magazine thought.  It seems to refer to the part of health care expenses that individuals will pay out-of-pocket.  It does strike me though as odd.  If people will still have to pay that much out of their own pockets, how is it different from the current system in which most private insurance plans have deductibles or co-payments?

SOURCE:  World Magazine, “Washington’s Prescription

Click on the link to read more of the contents of the health insurance proposal and to find a link to the entire bill, if you are brave enough to read it.  Most of the politicians planning to impose us on it do not intend to read it all, apparently.

Understanding Socialism

     Like every other ideology out there, socialism is not one simple, consistent set of ideas.  Many socialists actually oppose the ideas of other socialists.  The two basic goals of socialism are (1) the collective ownership or control of the means of production (as well as distribution and trade) and (2) total equality (economic as well as social).  However, different groups of socialists advocate different ways of achieving those goals.  Some socialists advocate the nationalizing (government ownership) of all businesses.  Others advocate state control of capital within a somewhat free market.  Others, the social democrats, prefer selective nationalization in “mixed economies” (part free and part government controlled or owned).  Others advocate actual collective ownership by workers’ councils or other such cooperative entitities.

     So far, no country with a socialist economy has achieved the second goal of equality.  The European countries which run along of the lines of Democratic Socialism still have their “haves” and their “have nots.”  The Soviet Union is infamous for having extremely poor people barely subsisting while the leaders lived high on the hog.  The same can be said for the unfortunate souls in North Korea, Cuba, and many other socialist regimes.  The socialists have had well over a century to prove that their system really produces economic equality, and they have failed, one after another.  If everyone were really given an equal share of all the country’s wealth, then perhaps it could work, but the leaders are always just a little bit more “equal” than the workers.  People would be better off with a benign king than with almost any of the great socialist leaders, some of whom have ruthlessly murdered their “comrades,” their fellow workers with whom they had supposedly united. 

     Even the economies of Europe, which some people would have the United States emulate, have a  funny cyclical approach of nationalizing alternating with privatizing.  You can look back and see how England, France and Germany, to name three of the most prominent examples, have at different times moved first in the collectivist direction and then in the individualist direction.  The farther they go in the collectivist direction, the more strain they put on their government budgets, until it becomes prohibitive to continue.  You can only give out so much money for so long before it just runs out.  So, then they deregulate and privatize and lower taxes, and–who would have thought?–the economy grows and prosperity returns.  Margaret Thatcher did it.  Gerhard Schroeder did it.  Nicholas Sarkozy is doing it.  I would like to add that Ronald Reagan did it, if I may.

     In every historical case I can think of, economic prosperity follows freedom and economic slumps follow government control. 

     Even China, still practicing the totalitarian oppression for which it is notorious, has privatized (or as they used to say, liberalized) their economy more and more.  The more they allow for private ownership, the more the economy grows and the more comfortable lives the ordinary people lead.  If China can figure out that privatizing leads to prosperity, then why can’t the United States?

‘Socialist’ Is Not An Insult

     When I’ve called Democrats “socialists,” I have had people click their tongues and cross their fingers at me. It’s not nice to call somebody a socialist, apparently, even if he is one. I have had people say that I’m just smearing politicians by using such a loaded word. (Never mind that many liberals refer to conservatives as fascists.)

     The word socialist is not an empty insult, such as jerk or barbarian.  It has a definition, and a person either meets the criteria of the definition or not.  Granted, somebody might be only a semi-socialist or slightly socialistic, but it can certainly be verified whether a person is one or not.  If the person espouses one or more aspects of socialism, then they are a socialist.

     Barack Obama, whom I’ve long regarded as a socialist because of his voting record and his platform, made the definitive statement recently.  He told a plumber, “I think when you spread the wealth around, its good for everyone.”  That my friends IS socialism.  It’s not like socialism, or somewhat socialistic.  It is one of the main principles of socialism.

     The plumber had started by asking Obama why he would raise taxes on him and his business.  Obama answered, “It’s not that I want to punish your success.  I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success, too.”

     Ah, the illusive dream of socialists!  By taking wealth from the people who used their ingenuity and effort to acquire it and giving it to people who cannot or will not do so, you think you can make everyone equally successful.  One problem with the dream is that real economic success is measured in what one accomplishes–not in what one is given by someone else.  The other problem with the dream is that when you ruin the people who create wealth, there will eventually be no more for anyone.  Atlas will shrug*, and then you will wonder why it all dried up.  The Soviet Union is an example of it that most of us remember.

     If you agree with Obama that people like that plumber should have his earnings confiscated and distributed to people who did not earn it, then vote for him.  But please don’t tell me that he is not a socialist.  And please admit that you are one.  It’s not a dirty word.

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*A reference to Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged, in which the leaders and innovators just get fed up and stop creating wealth.

What’s Conservative About It?

     John McKinnon in the Wall Street Journal wrote an article called “Rescue Tests Bush’s Conservative Legacy.”

     My first reaction was:  Conservative?  What the. . .!   (No, I didn’t say a bad word.)

     The article goes on to point out that President Bush has been far from conservative.

     Dan Mitchell is quoted as mentioning that everything but the temporary tax breaks has been a “step toward staistm.”  It has.

     “Some lawmakers” are quoted as referring to the financial rescue as socialism.  It is.

     Grover Norquist is quoted as talking about President Bush’s “abandonment of conservative principles.”  Yes, he has abandoned them.

     So, please, my liberal friends, do not equate President Bush’s semi-conservative (mostly liberal) policies and procedures with true conservatism.  I might end up saying the word I omitted above.  And it takes a LOT to get me to say such things.

Tell Me It’s Not Socialism

     So are we now living in North Korea or Venezuela or some African dictatorship?  I read in horror that the national government is going to “rescue” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Some have used the word takeover, even.

     When a government controls some of the biggest investment and lending organizations in the country, what is that but socialism?  Call it progressive if you want, or call it liberal, but it is practically the definition of socialism.

     At least this article makes it clear that taxpayers are really the ones who are providing the money to bail out these mismanaged companies.  Honest, decent working people who did not choose to provide risky loans to people who could not pay them back will be  forced to pay for those mistakes.  It is a clear case of redistribution of capital and of the socialist principle that we all share equally in each other’s success or failure.  No thanks.

     Our controlled economy has not worked very well.  From the time of our Founding, America has prospered and grown economically.  But as it has done so, those in high office have gotten greedy.  In the name of “helping” people they have gradually increased taxes, created a gargantuan bureaucracy, and stifled economic growth and the formation of new businesses.  Couldn’t we at least try a free market system?

     If you look at the potential for growth that our country has had since the beginning, can you even imagine where we would be today if the government had let the economy grow unhindered?  It’s too bad that it is an unrealized dream.

Are You a Liberal?

John Hawkins has written a humorous editorial in the manner of Jeff Foxworthy.  Here are some of my favorite signs from Hawkins that you might be a liberal:

  • You’re sure the Constitution explicitly guarantees the right to abortion and gay marriage, but not the right to own a handgun.  [HINT:  It's the other way around.  It's called the Second Amendment.]
  • You know that 86% of all income taxes are paid by the top 25% of income earners and you still feel that the rich “aren’t paying their fair share of the taxes.”
  • You think it’s obscene that oil companies are allowed to make 8.3 cents per gallon in profit with gas prices this high, but would never suggest cutting the 13 cents per gallon they pay on taxes to reduce the price of gas.   [HINT:  13 is greater than 8.3.]
  •  You think the case for global warming is proven without a shadow of a doubt, but that we need another century or two worth of evidence to figure out if capitalism and free markets work better than socialism. 
  • You believe the best way to fix the government screwing something up in the market is with…drumroll, please…more government intervention.  [HINT:  You don't make things better by doing the same thing that make them bad in the first place.  You go the other direction.]

     So do you think you are one. . .a liberal, that is?

More on the So-Called Rebates

     In the same AP article that I cite below, this juicy tidbit appears: 

 Bush had supported larger rebates of $800-$1,600, but his plan would have left out 30 million working households of people who earn paychecks but don’t make enough to pay income tax, according to calculations by the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center.

     Do you see the real difference between Republicans and Democrats?  Republicans want people to keep most of what they earn, especially those who are trying to take care of families on middle-income salaries.  Democrats want to take money from people who earned it and give it to people who didn’t.  Please understand what the Democrats are talking about.  They are not just talking about giving folks some of their tax payment back.  They are talking about giving people who paid no taxes money that was paid in by somebody else.

[UPDATE:  Andrew Stephens commented that I am wrong to say that the working poor pay no taxes.  Technically he is right.  I was careless with my thinking and my writing.  Of course, the working poor pay taxes, but--at certain income levels--they pay no national income tax.  If this plan is for a national income tax rebate, then my point still holds.  At least I think it does.]

     I have willingly helped needy people, although I am on the brink of “needy” myself.  In one instance I paid for a new transmission for a one-car family that couldn’t afford it.  In another instance I paid half the cost of a new heater for a mother and her child that would have suffered from the cold of winter, because they didn’t have the money to replace their old and broken one.  Sorry for the boasting, but I want to clearly demonstrate that I am very supportive of helping those less fortunate.

     It makes me very, very angry that my government wants to take money from some people and give it to others.  And it makes me livid that the people who advocate this plan are called “centrists” and “moderates.”

High School Economics–Part IV

    My post today might make better sense if you read the three previous parts, as I have been trying to build up to what I am writing here.  I previously wrote about four students and four teachers to get everyone thinking about inherent ability, diverse talents, levels of motivation, disabilities, and about the fairness or unfairness of various reward systems.  I am not an economist, but I do earn and save and invest money.  These are more my thoughts about economic systems than expert definitions or explanations.

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  • The Capitalist System
  • The Socialist System
  • The Semi-Socialist System
  • The Communist System Continue reading