Until Midterm Elections...

Scott versus Scott

Welcome to our blog. Here we will debate the days most serious topics and allow users the chance to discuss the topics as well. The range of topics will vary, but one thing will remain certain, the debate will rage on. Scott Lesinski is a proud conservative and Scott Jones is a proud liberal. However, the roles will switch on some topics. Stay tuned.

Scott Lesinski is currently an actuarial associate for a large human resources and insurance consulting firm in Saint Louis. He is also an avid student of US history and enjoys following current events, with an eye to their contextual relationship to the past. He is also, in fact, a former student of Mr. Scott Jones. Scott is working toward his FSA credentials, which is akin to earning a PHD in Actuarial Science.

Scott Jones is currently a high school social studies teacher at a high school in suburban St. Louis, MO. He teaches World History, AP American Government and Senior American Foreign Policy. He has a BS. Ed. (Secondary Social Studies) from the University of Missouri - Columbia and a M.A. (History) from Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently working on a dissertation in character education to earn a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two things

Just two things I want to point out as we start the day...

1) Say what you want about his political orientation or some of the things that happened personally, Ted Kennedy's service to this country as a public servant should serve as a role model for more of us. He dedicated his life to serving this country in the political arena. We don't appreciate this from people as much as we should.

2) Just came across a book about the Afghanistan war. It is a photo book about our troops there. It is called 2nd Tour: I Hope I Don't Die by photo journalist Peter van Agtmael. It is a very deep reminder of the sacrifices our troops and their families make every day while we don't feel the sacrifice in our lives about this war. I am just as guilty as the next person on this blog. We've debated abortion, economics, health care while many thousands put their lives on the line simply because our nation has asked them to do so. As you read this post, please take a second to remember those who sacrifice their personal wishes to serve us so that we can debate our topics on this blog in the most peaceful country in the world. It wouldn't be a bad idea to say out loud "Thank you."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Conservatives - The Only Thing They Have To Sell Is FEAR Itself.

``Fear is the most powerful enemy of reason. Both fear and reason are essential to human survival, but the relationship between them is unbalanced. Reason may sometimes dissipate fear, but fear frequently shuts down reason.'' -- from The Assault on Reason by Al Gore

``I'm afraid of Obama!'' -- woman at a Town Hall meeting on health care reform

I have no opinion on H.R. 3200. Mainly because I haven't read it.

Pardon my presumption, but chances are beyond excellent that you haven't, either. Scott, I know you posted about it, but you got your information from the Free Republic and not the bill itself. Why? The PDF file of the bill, otherwise known as the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, clocks in at 1,017 pages of often-dense legalese and jargon. I'd like to read it, but I'd also like to have a life, and the two are incompatible.

So excuse me, beg pardon, but it would be really valuable to hear an explanation of the bill by those who presumably have read it, followed by vigorous questioning. Instead, the circus has come to town. And the circus isn't the one that is loved by children because of the wonders of human and animal extraordinary skills and excitement. This is a circus about the wonders of human idiocy.

I refer, of course, to the chaos that has erupted at townhall meetings as Democratic lawmakers try to sell the bill. The New York Times reports shouting matches, fistfights, threats, injuries and arrests. Georgia Congressman David Scott says he's had death threats and a visit from vandals who painted a swastika outside his office.

If you wonder what the Nazis have to do with this, join the club. It's an incoherent protest, and where there is incoherence, naturally, there is Sarah Palin. The former governor of Alaska weighed in on Facebook with a claim that Democrats were proposing a ``downright evil'' system in which the fate of the elderly and the disabled would be determined by ``death panels.''

She said she was referring to Sec. 1233 of the bill, so I read it. It would allow your doctor to regularly consult with you on the need for a living will and advanced-care directives, i.e., decide ahead of time if you'd want to be kept alive in a persistent vegetative state.

This is the exact same prodecure I went through with my Grandma towards in the end of her life. We sat down with her doctors and she turned over to me the power to make her end-of-life decisions. This is a process called "power of attorney." It is a common procedure and did not make me her executioner.

The provision may or may not be a good idea but it's hardly ``downright evil'' and it bears no resemblance to the image Palin conjures: granny forced to justify her continued existence before a panel of men in black hoods.

Conservatives would have you believe this pandemonium is spontaneous. Truth is, it's about as spontaneous as a shuttle launch. The Times account tells us a banner appeared on the web site of Fox News host Sean Hannity inviting people to ''Become a part of the mob!'' A group calling itself Tea Party Patriots advises its members to pack the hall and ``yell out.'' This is manufactured outrage.

And that's fine. If people choose to become part of a synchronized protest, they have every right to. Nor is there anything wrong with dissent. As many of us pointed out when George W. Bush's enablers sought to silence his critics, dissent is patriotic.

But shouting down those who disagree with you is not. Neither is threatening, shoving, hitting, painting swastikas or otherwise rendering reasoned debate impossible. That's not love of country, it's not dissent, it's not even civilized. It's boorish, oafish and crude, the rantings of people panicked beyond reason.

In other words, conservatives. OK, not all of them. But too many of them? Definitely.
By now, it has become reflex, this instinct of theirs to manipulate the debate and muddy the waters by stoking people's primal fears, whether of gays, Muslims, Hispanics or now, healthcare reform. ``I'm afraid of Obama!'' screams a woman. Scott, you argue that Obama is all about creating hysteria, yet I have a hard believing that you see these townhall fiascos orchestrated by the Right as the same thing.

And doesn't that just say it all? Doesn't that speak volumes about the intellectual bankruptcy and decayed moral authority of the political right? With apologies to Franklin Roosevelt, the only thing they have to sell is fear itself.

This is not patriotism. It is the cynical behavior of people who have little faith in their ability to win the debate. So they pick a fight and try to win that instead.

Most of the above post is from Leonard Pitt's article this past week. I added a few things that applied to my thoughts. I thought it would be a good start to my reply to Scott's health care misstatements.

So let's take Scott's fear tactics in a previous post, and apply reasoned logic to his claims...

Page 16: States that if you have insurance at the time of the bill becoming law and change, you will be required to take a similar plan. If that is not available, you will be required to take the gov option! Not quite accurate. The bill says that you will be required to have insurance that is at least equal to the public plan. If you can't find that plan, you are not looking hard enough. It will also allow for the minimum coverage to be competitive with the public plan.

Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure! This already occurs. For example, Ford Motor Company self-insures through various insurance companies. Both Ford and the insurance companies audit the fund to make sure the money is being spent according to the contract.

Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed. Hardly true, but the insurance companies already do this.

Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process). I would hardly consider the appeals process fair. When you appeal a denied claim, who do you appeal to? The Insurance Company itself. Good luck with that one. With the public plan, you will always have right to go to court and convince a judge to invoke an injunction to force care.

Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None. This only refers to the public plan and insurance companies already do this. My wife currently pays for maternity coverage despite the fact she has the same chance as the keyboard I am typing on of getting pregnant. Why do we pay this? Because all insurance companies force all women under the age of 45 to pay for maternity coverage. This would be true even after a hysterectomy.

Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services. While I will agree somewhat with illegals getting coverage, in an emergency situation we should worry about life and not legal details. If you were visiting England and were in a car accident, they would treat you before worrying about have an accepted passport. Awfully nice of them if you ask me.

Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard. It will be your social security card. Currently, insurance companies track care across the plans using your social security number. This is how they are able to know you have a pre-exisiting condition.

Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer. So does PayPal. So does the Social Security Administration. This will only apply to those who sign up for the public plan and will only be used for authorized payments.

Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (example: SEIU, UAW and ACORN). This is just a flat-out lie. I assume you also believe the taxpayers will also have to fund the audit that self-funded plans will be forced to have.

Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange. Okay, this only applies to meeting the minumum coverage requirements.

Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans). Okay, this only applies to meeting the minumum coverage requirements.

Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens. So someone comes with major brain trama, should the hospital check for their status before treating?

Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan. I truly see nothing wrong here. Maybe a few more organizations could take part, but nothing wrong with the idea.

Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter. Huh? I am assuming that you think we should keep Medicaid AND the public plan?

Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed. Oh, yeah, I forgot how good of a job they are currently doing.

Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages. Insurance companies already do this. Read an EOB.

Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives. Only if choosing the public plan.

Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families. Only if choosing the public plan, which will pay for the bills.


Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll. One thing left out. If they provide health insurance through a private plan, no tax.

Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll. One thing left out. If they provide health insurance through a private plan, no tax.

Page 167: Any individual who doesnt' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income. Acceptable covergage is the minimum coverage of the public plan. The tax will sign them up for the plan.

Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them). Same plan as the government run care. If you are tourist in England, they will cover you free of charge if you need service. Kind of nice of them if you ask me.

Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records. The IRS.

Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that. This is for budgetary purposes. The taxes collected for health care will be in a separate fund. This is to avoid the problems that has plagued the Social Security budget that is constantly borrowed against by Congress. Congress will not be able to do that with the health care funds.

Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected." Come on, you can't argue that this will cost too much and then complain about this. By the way, Medicaid is only for the poor.

Page 241: Doctors: no matter what speciality you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!). Not at all true. This is a flat-out lie.

Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc. Insurance companies already do this.

Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries. Insurance companies already do this.

Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs. Medicare already does this and no one has been denied that actually needs one.

Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing! Another flat out lie.

Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions. AGAIN, insurance companies already do this.

Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government. Same thing.

Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies! Actually isn't a good idea to prevent conflicts of interest?

Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval. No problem with this. Why do hospitals need to spend $1,000,000 on a foyer (Barnes-Jewish) so that it looks pretty?

Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on "community" input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN. Another lie. Yes, input will be important, but I guess if the Federalist Society was getting money, then conservatives would shut up about ACORN.

Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing. Not rationing at all. All the government will ask is whether or not the treatment will result in a good outcome. No more tests for the sake of testing.

Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc. These plans will be uneccessary under the new system.

Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals. This is a scare tactic that is flat-out immorral. With proper documentation from qualified health-care providers, special needs individuals will still get the proper care they deserve.

Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone). Designed to control costs by allowing people who don't know whether they should consult with their physician or the emergency room.

Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia? Another scare tactic. See my comment above. And applies to each of the following pages that deals with end of life care.

Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.

Page 425: Goverment provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.•

Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.

Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT. Super big scare tactic here and a lie.

Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life. Same as above, but insurance companies already do this.

Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.

Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN. I still don't see in the bill the word ACORN anywhere. If conservatives had actual community-based organizations, they would be eligible also.

Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage. No government public plan will cover therapy, not intervene.

Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services. See the special needs comment.

I didn't read the rest of the bill (OK, I didn't read it) like Scott. Wait, no Free Republic read it and Scott copied it into a post. We can debate the value of individual parts of the bill, but let's have a real debate and not a "made-for-tv" conservative created hysteria. Real ideas and not just a repeat of whatever talk-show host you listen to says for you to say.

Monday, August 10, 2009

On the Right to Privacy and Abortion

Scott L posted a short entry on how liberals can possibly argue against guns because of the clarity of the Constitution. Here is my take on abortion...

Scott L posted a comment that he believes medical decisions should be kept private because of an inherent right to privacy, which is a cornerstone right of a limited government system. However, he then in the next sentence argued that this right, in the medical arena, applies only to men. Apparently, according to his argument, women do not have this right.

The problem lies in the argument itself. Without an examination of a woman's medical records we can never know if she was pregnant, miscarried, aborted or was retaining huge amounts of water and was prescribed a water pill. Unfortunately, this examination of the medical records is exactly the sort of government intrusion into private affairs that conservatives rant against, at least as it pertains to a man's medical records. Even if you want to make it illegal for doctors to perform the procedure, it would require a subpeona of the names of women who have had the procedure, which would again be a violation of the privacy of medical records for the women subject to the investigation.

The further problem lies with the Constitution itself. Equal protection of the law, due process of the law and other Constitutional rights are part of a document that begins "We the People..." Unfortunately, an unborn fetus does not fall into the category of people. Furthermore, the Fourteenth Amendment's first clause cleary defines citizenship as "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

To me this is a perfectly clear argument. While I don't believe in taxpayer funded abortions (at least at the current levels of public opinion), it is impossible to outlaw abortion without fundamentally altering the right to privacy. Any system that doesn't guarantee a woman "equal protection" under the laws of the United States is a system I cannot support.

Basically, I believe that any outlawing of abortion (and I mean at all stages) is unenforcable because of the inherent right to privacy that I believe all CITIZENS of the United States should have in our Constitutional Government.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Its August - Time for the Obamacare Royal Rumble!

I saw a poll today on CNN. Mind you, not exactly an unfriendly network to President Obama.

It was about 83% of respondants were happy with their current healthcare and about 75% were happy with their current health insurance. Polling data routinely shows that about 55% or so of the American public expressly does not want Obama's "public option."

People who have never protested anything in their lives are showing up in droves to town hall meetings on healthcare to voice their overwhelming opposition to the President's plan.

Quite plainly put, the American people do not want Obama's "public option" or the eventual Single Payer system that it WILL (and is expressly designed to) bring about.

To those who claim that Obama merely wants to compete with private insurance, BALDERDASH.

Barney Fwank was recently caught on radio admitting his support for a Single Payer system, but he said that they didn't have the votes. He admitted that a "strong public option" is the way to get Single Payer.

Obama, in 2003 while running for the State Senate told a group of union people that he supports Single Payer.

In 2007, running for President, he told the Service Employees International Union that his goal was to have a Single Payer system in place by the end of his first term in office. He admitted the difficulties and alluded to the fact that he wasn't going to be able to get rid of all private insurance right away. He said it could take 10, 15, or 20 years to implement. But it is his stated objective.

Now, in 2009, he tells us that "if you like your insurance, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep him." He denies expressly that his option is a "trojan horse for single payer" (HIS WORDS).

I must ask you, what do you do in this case if you want to believe Obama? Do you believe the Obama who expressly advocated Single Payer? Do you believe the one who denies that is his goal?

Folks, we have caught Mr. Obama in a BALD FACED LIE to the American people.

I've been through the numbers on this blog before, but I'll do it again and then play a little game.

We are told that 46-47 million American's don't have health insurance. If you break those down, you get roughly 10-12 million illegal immigrants who are not entitled to government provided anything (except a one-way ticket to their nation of origin). You get another 10-12 million who qualify for medicaid or medicare but CHOOSE not to enroll for whatever reason. You get some other 10-12 million young people who don't want to buy the expensive policies that have been mandated by state and federal law and so choose to buy nothing. You get some millions who earn 50K-75K a year and choose not to buy healthcare. Finally, you get somewhere between 8-12 million who really truly do not qualify for any current program and can't afford to buy insurance under our current, non-free-market-based system.

IF we accept the premise that SJ puts out that he believes access to at least basic healthcare is a right for all Americans, OKAY, give it to them! It would cost us between 25-30 billion annually to buy health insurance policies for the 8-12 million who really can't afford it.

We just spent (or at least allocated) $800 billion to "stimulate" the economy. If President Obama was really SO FRICKIN' WORRIED about the uninsured, WHY DIDN"T HE JUST BUY THESE PEOPLE POLICIES!?!

Its because he doesn't want to care for the uninsured. He wants control over EVERY aspect of our life. There is no other explanation. Single Payer care is not about providing the best care. And doing so for those who really can't afford it would not cost any $1.6 trillion, as the CBO has said Obama's will cost.

Here are some gems from the House bill:

• Page 16: States that if you have insurance at the time of the bill becoming law and change, you will be required to take a similar plan. If that is not available, you will be required to take the gov option!
• Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!
• Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!
• Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process)
• Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None.
• Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.
• Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard.
• Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.
• Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (example: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)
• Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange.
• Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans)
• Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens
• Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan.
• Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter.
• Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed.
• Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages.
• Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives.
• Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families.
• Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll <>BR
• Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll
• Page 167: Any individual who doesnt' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.
• Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them).
• Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.
• Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that.
• Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected."
• Page 241: Doctors: no matter what speciality you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)
• Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc.
• Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.
• Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs.
• Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!
• Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.
• Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government.
• Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies!
• Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval.
• Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on "community" input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN.
• Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing.
• Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc.
• Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals.
• Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone).
• Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?
• Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.
• Page 425: Goverment provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.
• Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.
• Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT.
• Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life.
• Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.
• Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN.
• Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage.
• Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services.

I must credit the freerepublic for posting this rather short list of problems with the current bill. Its over 1000 pages long, so I'm sure that there are many more problems.

If you've made it through that list and you still support the President's plan, I must ask you, why?

What specifically about this "public option" plan do you like?

My solutions for our health care system are much shorter than 1000 pages.

Tort reform (done it in Texas, God bless that place, and its working like a charm)
Remove state and federal mandates for coverage
Set up Health Savings Accounts as opposed to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security Disability insurance to allow people CHOICE in what health insurance plan they buy.

You do those three things, this system will be vastly improved.

But then again, I want an answer from the liberals:

What do you like, SPECIFICALLY, about Obama's plan? If you, like him, don't know what's in the plan, then at least answer what do you like about Single Payer Healthcare over our current system? Be specific (No answers like, "oh everyone will be covered!" because that's BS).

Sorry if I seem emotional about this folks, its just that we have a tyrannical government and a state-run media propping them up. The vast will of the people is against this, yet when we show up to town hall meetings, we are branded "extremists" or said to be funded by some vast-rightwing conspiracy. There is no honest debate. So lets have one here.