Saturday, August 22, 2009

Are You Scared Yet?

Obamacare increasingly is being perceived as the biggest threat to American freedom and security since the Cold War. It makes the undermining of the constitution in the name of the War on Terror by the Bush administration look like child's play. (And Obama has done nothing to roll back those attacks on civil liberties - nothing.) But why would I say this about Obamacare? What is so scary about it?

Well, let Nat Hentoff, the self-described "member of the Proud and Ancient Order of Stiff-necked Jewish Atheists" tell us. He is "a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. He is a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the libertarian Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow." His column on Real Clear Politics, entitled "I Am Finally Scared of a White House Administration" begins this way:

"I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) - as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill - decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.

The members of that ultimate federal board will themselves not have examined or seen the patient in question. For another example of the growing, tumultuous resistance to "Dr. Obama," particularly among seniors, there is a July 29 Washington Times editorial citing a line from a report written by a key adviser to Obama on cost-efficient health care, prominent bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).

Emanuel writes about rationing health care for older Americans that "allocation (of medical care) by age is not invidious discrimination." (The Lancet, January 2009) He calls this form of rationing - which is fundamental to Obamacare goals - "the complete lives system." You see, at 65 or older, you've had more life years than a 25-year-old. As such, the latter can be more deserving of cost-efficient health care than older folks.

No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama's eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a "very difficult democratic conversation" about how "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care" costs."

Hentoff understands that health care rationing is the heart of Obama's health care reform. "Death panels" sounds sensational, but rationing is the real issue.

As Frank S. Rosenblum recently put it: "We do not need health care reform. We have the best health care system in the world. We need health insurance reform." Surely this is the point. Ask 10 people what is wrong with the health care system in the US and 10 of them will say that the problem is that not everyone is covered. They might also mention the widespread problem of companies not covering pre-existing conditions and the difficulties involved in moving from one job to another. If one is a Democrat, he or she might say that the system is too costly as well. But the broad-based public support for health-care reform is really support for health-insurance reform. The world acknowledges that US health care is the best in the world. Americans know this: Rasmussen polls show that 68% of Americans rate their current health insurance as good or excellent.

Why then is Obama fixated on reforming health care itself and not zeroing in on the insurance-related problems? Or, to put it another way, why is Obama determined to use insurance-related problems as a pretext to change health care itself in dramatic ways?

The issue of getting a handle on out-of-control costs is often raised, but Americans who examine the programs already being run by the rederal government - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - are literally laughing in the faces of politicians who tell them that reform is necessary so the government can run health care more efficiently. Maybe if just one of those programs were being run efficiently, the people would take this strategy seriously.

People are not as stupid as the leftists running the Democratic Party apparently believe them to be. Even while clinging to their guns and religion, they can see that the only way to save serious money is by rationing and that means less care for some, namely the elderly.

They understand that the point of the so-called "public option" is for government to get its foot in the door and eventually force its will on private insurance companies by setting the bar for which services for whom will be covered and how much payments for certain procedures for whom will be. Democrats want the government wants to be the one deciding how much care those nearing the end of life shall receive so that costs can be controlled "rationally."

It is that word "rationally" that should scare the you-know-what out of you. "Rationally" was the Nazi watchword. A rational world wouldn't have any old sick people draining money out of the system; nor would it have any disabled people left alive or any terminally ill people of any age left to die naturally. None of that is "rational" from the perspective of the worldview of the Left.

Collectivism always tries to put government in the position of deciding who gets what and its view of equality involves centralized control to ensure that equality of outcome takes place. Collectivism is inherently totalitarian and only works when the control is centralized and concentrated in as few hands as possible. Hence, the "Death Panel" scenario is actually an accurate metaphor to use in describing such a system, regardless of picky debates over the wording of this or that clause and exactly what a given department of the bureaucracy will or won't do.

Obamacare is all about taking power that is currently dispersed among many health insurance companies and many employers and individuals and centralizing that power in the hands of the federal government, which will make it possible for collectivism to achieve its goals. In this sense, it is an example of socialism in practice.

Obamacare is fundamentally unjust and immoral. Not because it wants to ensure that all Americans are covered by health insurance; that would be a great goal to go after and it would win broad support. But because it is not primarily about health insurance reform, but rather it is about a collectivist, bureaucratic, rational approach to health care itself.

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