Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Constitution, Deadbeat Dads, and the Hypocrisy of Obamacare

America is now poised to enjoy the fruits of what has been a demand from the left for over a quarter century: Government mandated socialized medicine.

There have always been three main arguments behind that drive:
1) Everyone has a right to free healthcare.
2) Fairness
3) We’re paying for it anyway.

As usual, the liberals miss the mark on all three fronts.

On the first they are wrong about what a right is. Our Constitution explicitly defines a number of rights… Speech, Religious liberty, Assembly etc. Most of the rights enumerated in the Constitution limit the government from impeding on a citizen’s free exercise of those rights. Other than the 6th and 7th Amendments’ right to a jury trial, nothing in these rights impose duties on others to provide anything. Rights are things you could take with you if you decided to move to a desert island somewhere where there was no one else there to provide them.

Healthcare is simply not a right. It is not free. It is not an infinite resource that can be redistributed endlessly. No, healthcare is a service that must be provided by individuals who willingly exchange their time and energy for whatever value someone else places on it. They do that so that they can in turn exchange that money with others for things like garbage services, car loans, dental floss, chocolate, gasoline, video games and a wide variety of goods and services for which they are either not interested in or not capable of providing for themselves. That alone distinguishes healthcare from a right.

The right to free healthcare is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. Indeed, none other than the patron saint of progressives, community activist Barack Obama recognized as much: “…the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf…” Too bad President Barack Obama forgot as much.

The left also has it wrong on the notion of fairness. Fairness is a value judgment, not a logical basis upon which to distribute a finite resource. Fairness is relative to the person making the judgment. History, both ancient and near, is full of stories of people fighting over land and property they feel is rightfully, fairly, theirs. Fair depends on perspective.

What’s more, life is simply not “fair”. Some people are tall, while others are short. Some are kind while others make the Grinch look like Ghandi. Some are skinny, others are fat while a few look like Adonis or Aphrodite. More importantly, some work hard while others seek to live off of the efforts of others. Those differences have existed throughout history and will continue to do so as long as we remain human. As such, there is simply no way to ensure “fairness” because everyone has a different understanding of the word. We see this demonstrated every day. Liberals think it’s fair to take half or more of what someone earns to give to others while those whose sweat or intelligence generate wealth think they should be able to keep it.

Finally, those demanding universal healthcare are hypocrites as well. Not sure? Ask them about the following. They claim that the government should provide healthcare to everyone because we’re paying for it anyway when people who can’t pay go to emergency rooms and the rest of America has to pay extra to cover them. If that logic works, how about extending it to unwed mothers and deadbeat fathers? Unwed mothers are a disproportionately large segment of those living in poverty and receiving welfare. We’re paying for that. Americans have spent trillions of dollars on poverty programs over the last half century; indeed the acronym AFDC stands for Aid For Dependent Children… for which a family was ineligible if a father was present. As such, is it appropriate to forcibly tie the tubes of women who have children they cannot support until such time as they get married or can support the children on their own rather than making the rest of society pay for them?

Similarly we all pay for the police who capture criminals as well as the courts that try them and the prisons to lock them up. Does the progressive logic hold then that since men who grow up without fathers present are disproportionately represented amongst the criminal element, that we should forcibly give men who refuse to raise or support their progeny vasectomies? While someone who cannot afford hypertension medicine or the cost of an ankle cast may be poignant, is it more calamitous than a parent suffering the loss of a son or daughter murdered by a criminal who grew up without a father? If government can seek to ameliorate the former by edict, why not apply that logic to eliminate the second?

At the end of the day, President Obama and his liberal cabal have it wrong on healthcare, as they usually do on virtually every other issue they harness to redistribute wealth and turn the country into a statist Nirvana. From misunderstanding fundamental concepts in the Constitution to ignoring the basic nature of mankind to crafting irrational, self serving arguments, they seek any route available to impose their fatuous, untenable programs on an uninformed public, knowing that once in place they will live on forever.

President Obama is certainly on his way to achieving his goal of “fundamentally transforming America”. One can only wonder as the true nature of Obamacare plays itself out over the next five years and its mandates begin to crush the vitality out of the American spirit, whether citizens might look to something other than the Constitution to save freedom. There is another American document to which they might want to turn. Its first line reads as follows: 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. The catastrophe of Obamacare just might be at the top of the list.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

President Obama's deleterious effect on America's work ethic.

The United States was built on the backs of hard working people. From pilgrims who survived an ocean’s journey and founded a colony at Plymouth to slaves who endured the blistering sun as they harvested cotton to settlers who braved temperatures, terrain and Indians to fulfill a Manifest Destiny, the United States was the product of people who worked like their lives depended on it. And in many cases, they did. In the 20th century however, other than a number of wars, and increasingly, simply living in intercity neighborhoods, most aspects of working in America don’t involve putting your life on the line in order to survive.

Today, America is still powered by work, in whatever form it takes, everything from building bridges to creating smartphone apps to finding investment opportunities. Work has created a foundation for the prosperity that has given the United States two centuries of greatness. Unfortunately, the very concept of work as something positive, something necessary, something that is part of a normal family’s existence, is slowly going away… and it’s no accident.

One wonders what someone could do to destroy the work ethic…

For starters, try two full years of unemployment benefits… although the longest period today has dropped to 83 weeks – a year and a half – President Obama had benefits up to an unprecedented 99 weeks in his first year in office. This, despite the fact that studies show that fully 1/3 of those receiving unemployment benefits find a job within one week of their benefits expiring, and a sizable number of the rest soon thereafter. This is not just an exercise in navel gazing… it has a real impact. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, despite offering between $9 and $20 per hour and a 7% unemployment rate, hundreds of employers cannot fill their open positions. Either they can’t find enough qualified applicants (thank you teachers’ unions) or the pay they are offering is simply not good enough to convince people to give up their unemployment benefits.

And unemployment benefits are not the only government program weighing on the work ethic. Then there is welfare. The GOP half of the Senate Budget Committee released a report last week that was astonishing: “Welfare spending per day per household in poverty is $168, which is higher than the $137 median US income per day.” To put that in perspective, those welfare benefits, including food stamps, housing, healthcare and child care amongst other programs, equal to $61,320 per year per household in poverty. That compares to the median US household income of $50,054 per year. And to add insult to injury, that $50,054 is taxable while the welfare benefits are not. A conservative 20% combined federal, state and local tax rate would bring that take home pay to approximately $40,000, fully 35% lower than the income from the household living in “poverty”.

Now of course liberals say that these numbers are skewed and that all those benefits don’t go to people living in poverty, but also go to people who are experiencing particular hardships. Perhaps, but isn’t that exactly what unemployment insurance is for? Should welfare benefits really be going to those who are not living in poverty? And of course, don’t forget, poverty in 2012 doesn’t mean what you might expect.

Then there is this nugget from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: While the economy has created 2.6 million jobs since June 2009, fully 3.1 million workers signed up for disability benefits. There is something staggering about the fact that for every one person who found a job in the last three years, there was another person who not only didn’t help grow the economy, but who sought support provided by people with jobs! It’s like you and a stranger going to apply for a job. You get the job and the stranger says he can’t actually work but wants to be paid out of your salary… You might not be surprised to learn that lax enforcement and fraud are part of the mix.

Finally there is this. It’s called the Labor Force Participation Rate. Essentially it’s the percentage of people 16 years of age and older who are either working or looking for work. (Those not in that number include students, retirees, those unable to work and those not looking for work.) For most of the last 20 years that number has been between 66% & 67%. Since President Obama took office that number has plummeted to 63.6%. That is the lowest level in over three decades. Fundamentally, what that means is that since President Obama was sworn in, fully 2.2% of the adult population of the United States has decided to exit the workforce. (Remember, that doesn’t include those who are looking for work…) That works out to be approximately 5 million people who have decided that they can get by one way or another without working… which means of course that someone else has to pay to support them.

Taken together these data are nothing less than catastrophic. A country that was built on sweat, ingenuity and perseverance is today foundering under the sheer weight of a segment of the population that sees either no need or no point in contributing to the prosperity of the nation. It’s no wonder that the economy is stagnating despite the infusion of over $5 trillion in debt over the last four years.

This is Margret Thatcher’s “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money” playing itself out in real life. Today we have fewer and fewer people getting jobs while we have skyrocketing numbers of people living off of government handouts. Unfortunately, a majority of voters just reelected a man who not only doesn’t see a problem with this, but who has been driving it. What’s worse, he’s using tax and regulatory policy to dissuade investors, entrepreneurs and businessmen from starting or growing the businesses whose jobs are supposed to support this lunacy in the first place. And of course forgotten in all of this is that work, in addition to providing a person with an income, also provides a feeling of dignity, independence and the pride in the fact that they are benefiting not only themselves but the society as a whole.  One has to wonder, when 2016 comes around will there be enough Americans left with jobs (or the memory of jobs) to derail this progressive train to oblivion?