Thursday, March 9, 2017

Is it about Health Insurance...or Health Care?

Even as "Obamacare" is imploding from costs that are not covered, young people who are not signing up, and premiums that are sky-rocketing, the Media, Ideological Right and Ideological Left point fingers at each other, and talk past each other.  And it is so obvious that one cannot escape the strong suspicion, if not certainty, that they are doing it on purpose to mislead the vast majority of the public.

First, a review of the facts shows that Obamacare has apparently increased the number that is covered by healthcare of some kind.

The difficulty with this claim arises when we ask ourselves if it is insurance, regardless of scope, that we want to extend to people...or is it increased paid-for actual medical coverage that all of us see as the goal.

Healthcare Insurance comes in various forms...at least it used come in many forms.  You could chose to select catastrophic insurance plans, where the costs were low because you had no benefit until medical costs exceeded a selected limit...often more than $5,000 for an illness...because you budgeted for normal and ordinary Doctor's visits and accidents.

Then there were the normal, what I used to think of as the Blue Cross/Blue Shield, plans.  These covered normal costs of doctors and hospitals in a variety of ways.  You could chose a network of doctors and hospitals, out of network providers and select any number of co-pay limits and/or drug coverage.

The point of these offerings was to enable any person or family unit to balance cost of premiums against their medical coverage preferences.  Those who had the choice of insurance provided by their employers usually benefited from the employer's negotiating good premium terms, and often had portions of those premiums actually paid by the employer.  But if you left that job, every person had the option of continuing that coverage, albeit at a higher rate.  But you wanted to continue coverage so that you didn't trigger a non-covered period (usually a year or 18 months) for any discovered pre-existing condition.

The motivation for getting, paying for, and continuing Medical Insurance coverage was to protect against preexisting conditions which might or might not develop.  It wasn't enough to have just any policy; you needed to have coverage that was useful.

Obamacare was and remains the equivalent of a con, because it claims to offer a benefit that turns out to be non-existent; the premiums are increasingly exorbitant while the deductibles are so high as to turn the policies into catastrophic only coverage that isn't what most purchasers had before and expected to continue under the promises made by President Obama regarding Obamacare.

And now the Congress is repeating the same mistake.  The only motivation that will cause younger people (and families) to chose to purchase Medical-care Insurance is the fear of discovery of preexisting conditions.  Obamacare proved that a financial penalty wasn't enough if there were no prohibition of coverage due to preexisting conditions.  Besides, without that exception of coverage, what you are trying to provide is NOT insurance at all, but socialized medical coverage.  Without making citizens responsible for the consequences of their planning and their actions, you are socializing the medical costs of everyone.  And that is exorbitantly expensive.

If the government wants to provide ability and incentive for all citizens to have USEFUL medical coverage, provide a limited period (perhaps 18 months) for everyone to select, sign up for, and begin to pay for medical coverage of their choice with coverage for preexisting conditions.  But upon expiration of that period, reinstate the preexisting condition exclusion.

Additionally, for the poor (and there needs to be a certain definition of what that is) set up a means for catastrophic coverage costs to be reimbursed to the purchaser by the government, with the government also picking up any intervening hospital and practitioners' costs upon their supplying factual and audited data.

The key, though, is to mandate that the people themselves have to be responsible for selecting, and processing the necessary applications for coverage and, where appropriate, reimbursement.  If that is done, truly everyone will have the opportunity to access meaningful medical insurance coverage.  But it is opportunity that needs to be provided...not a guarantee.



Friday, February 24, 2017

Are the "Hate Crime" statutes attempts to by-pass the Constitutional guarantee of free Speech?

For three quarters of a century I have been angered by many events that centered around the exercise of free speech as guaranteed by the American Constitution.  Most were personal events that occurred after I had gotten to voting age and had to endure what I considered bad language that not only was often physically impossible but also un-civil.  These offended my perception of what communication should be in any civilized society.

Then there were general public exercises of offensive behavior and speech that seemed to violate existing social norms.  Included in this list, was the burning of the American Flag and the behavior of the Westboro Baptist Church, of Topeka, Kansas, at the funerals of fallen servicemen.

I admit to a visceral anger at such behavior, and the wish for the power to put such activities to an end.

On reflection, while there was great danger in any preemptive prohibition on speech and/or action that did not encourage actual physical harm to others, it seemed that in cases where a case could clearly be made for damage being inflicted on innocents or others those who were injured should have the right to restitution.

Logic suggests that the courts, SCOTUS included, have wrongly and carelessly expanded the definition of "free" in free speech to include freedom from consequences of that exercise.  A careful consideration of the concept of free speech seems to clearly mean that the founding fathers wished to prevent the preemptive prohibition of any person from stating a case on any subject that they found compelling.

There is no action in this world that does not have consequences for those committing actions...or speaking words.  ONLY in America are people allowed to insult others, call them vile names and, in the case of politics, actually lie about accusations and behavior.

In any moral sense, this is wrong.  Certainly any person can comment or accuse, but isn't it just common sense that there needs to be truthfulness in the comment or accusation?  Absent truthfulness, shouldn't any person...rich, famous, poor, unknown...be able to call any such commenter or accuser to make the victim whole?  What social, moral or governmental purpose is served by allowing reprehensible language.

Note that I see such action as being in civil courts, and never as being based on statutory laws.  This should never be in the criminal realm.  Why?  Because then the government is given control of determining what is acceptable or not.

I abhor the passing of "Hate Crime" and "Hate Speech" legislation.  The activities specified are already against the law and the courts have jurisdiction and those engaging in such actions can be punished for their actions.  Frankly, the motivation for abhorrent behavior is not of importance and certainly should not the subject of governmental definition and intuition.  As far as speech is concerned, the Constitution is clear on it being allowed.  I certainly would allow action to recover provable injury from such speech...as long as it was in civil court and the judgment made by a jury.

Hate Speech statutes seem only to be a means for the Federal Government to "pile on" for largely political purposes when some crimes are committed.  That is not reason to create more power and put it in the hands of the level of government most removed from the people.






Thursday, February 2, 2017

Possible Solution to our Education deficit

The degradation of the educational system in America is the result of many factors: the erosion of the family unit, the unionization of teachers that focuses on protecting the welfare of teachers instead of the education of children, and the Prussian Model used as a basis of our educational system through twelfth grade which is better designed for indoctrination than for learning and independent problem solving, among others.  The focus on the family cannot be recreated by any government.  It must come from the people.  Likewise, a desire to change our educational system from one of standardization to one of maximizing individual learning must also develop from the people and the teaching community working together.

But perhaps if the educational professionals themselves considered a radical change in their way of organizing, they might lead the way to improvements in the other two areas.  Here is one possible approach for consideration.

This involves a great deal of spending up front and that will turn many people off.  But if we look at how much money has already been appropriated only to fail to improve education in this country, perhaps we could at least try something a bit different.

How much more respectful and empowering would it be if all educators ruled themselves through a Professional Association matrix instead of a union matrix?  If administrators and teachers ruled their own membership in a manor designed to mandate good teaching methods as well as results, with awards and raises given by their own judgment and standards based on the achievements of their students, they would achieve three things:
     1, They would insure that all of them were dedicated to educational achievement, with the ability to set and demand high standards of each of their members based on their own self-interest;
     2.  they would have professional respect from parents as well as the general public; and
     3.  they would have the self-satisfaction of knowing that their students would be productive citizens.

But...how to implement this?  One idea would be to approach the teachers and their unions with the concept that ALL salaries for three years would be tripled.  Yes, tripled!  In return, the teachers would create their own Professional Organization empowered to rule itself, set minimum requirements and methods for self-evaluation based on student achievement as well as the teachers' Organization evaluations, and give up all tenure.

During those three years the teachers would themselves select those who's performance on behalf of the students qualified them for terms of tenure...which would be for a set number of years (perhaps 8 years), upon the expiration of which the Teachers Professional Association would do a review evaluation, the satisfactory finding of which would provide for an additional 8 year tenure.  At the same time, the Teachers Professional Association would be tasked with reviewing the educational program for learning efficacy, seeking improvement in the learning matrix and experimenting to improve the educational system with the goal of enabling and insuring that all students reach a certain minimum standard of reading, math and general knowledge while those with exceptional or advanced abilities are nurtured to maximize their educational growth.  But the key would be to put the responsibility AND the rewards for achieving that goal in the hands of the teachers themselves.

When Teachers and the general public come to see that Teachers are dedicated professionals exercising professional ability to regulate themselves to excel every bit as much as Doctors and other professionals and demonstrably requiring that all their members perform at the same high standards, they will:
   a. receive the admiration of the public and parents;
   b. which will give them greater authority to enable changes in education that will provide better results for all students;
   c. which in turn will demonstrate value that will provide for remuneration that all excellent teachers deserve; and
   d. the increased status will draw highly motivated and able new recruits into the profession.

At the end of the three year period of adjustment, re-selection of teachers deserving tenure and the creation of the basis for self-regulation and self-evaluation, the salary level would initially go to double the original (or, decrease one-third from the then effective level).  As time passes, the Teachers Professional Association can develop payment rates.  Perhaps they will decide to create a hierarchy of teaching ability (level 1, 2,3, Masters) either generally or by subject that would stay with the teacher and set the level of pay regardless of where or at what school he or she worked.  And/or there might be set adjustments based on cost of living when a teacher moved from one area of the country to another.  And, if a teacher moved during a tenure period, that tenure would continue until the expiration of the current term, with the usual re-evaluation to be conducted by representatives of the Teachers' Professional Association.

Just one idea to consider.  It seems wrong to criticize without attempting to come up with a way of improving or changing what seems currently not to be working.




Sunday, January 15, 2017

Were the Russians Really helping Trump win?

I have not seen one argument or suggestion that Russia or those directed by Russia were not trying to help Trump win the election.  But I would suggest that in fact they had no idea that Trump might win, regardless of any Russian-backed activities.

Consider that there were no countries, residents, governments or leaders throughout the world that expected Mr. Trump to be elected.  You can safely bet that that was the view throughout Russia too...including Mr. Putin and the leadership of Russia.

So...what was really going on?  I suggest that it not only possible but probable that, with the success they had in hacking into various American sources a year or more earlier, that they decided to test the American Public's reaction to some of the politically indefensible and embarrassing information they had acquired.  It is likely that they discovered far more than was leaked during the campaign season.  To reveal what they did release was arguably a signal of proof that they had "stuff" that the DNC AND Ms. Hillary would find not only embarrassing, but possibly grounds for impeachment; that not-so-subtle message would have made influencing a President Hillary Clinton easier and perhaps even more effective.Governments usually go to great lengths to hide their hacking operations...and do so quite effectively.  The DNC hacks were not particularly well hidden, as known cut-outs were employed.  Arguably, they wanted the government, expected to be headed by a President Clinton, to know.

Whether all of this is true or only true in part is not something I can prove.  But when you consider that the entire world, in addition to the Democrat party and its adherents, expected the election of Ms. Hillary Clinton to the American Presidency, what other use did the leaks serve?  Most of America knew about the leaked data and that didn't move the polls...and  neither did Trump's other promises and claims.

Think about it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tracking "differences" prevents operation of America's "Melting Pot" heritage

Our Government, at every level, has stopped America from continuing to operate as what we used to refer to as "the great melting pot."  When our country was "discovered" by the Italians, the Scandinavians and the Irish, among many others, as holding out the opportunity for attaining success, they ran into opposition.  Much of it was oriented around Race and discrimination.  But over time, that passed and today they and their offspring are seen as "American" as anyone else.

Today, we have arguments about "racism" all to often, regarding Color of Skin, and Religion...and there seems little hope that it will be resolved anytime soon.

Why did the first groups go beyond it in relatively short order while others cannot seem to get beyond the perceived challenge?

I hear comments that America has a problem with "white" privilege, that a significant portion of our residents are racist and act punitively against anyone who is not considered "white."  Others posit that skin color never fades and is always a sign that is interpreted as being "different."  And the argument regarding religious practices and beliefs adds fuel to the flame of perceived negativity.  All of these positions are offered as reasons (or excuses) for the failure of groups being assimilated into American Life.

These reasons (or "excuses") don't hold up to close scrutiny.

Those who came to this country voluntarily wanted to become Americans.  They had not found opportunity in the country of their birth and wanted the chance to attain more.  They knew there was no guarantee of success, or even of survival, but they appreciated that America provided opportunity to try to achieve something more than was afforded them in their birth country.  Many failed.  Significant numbers died.  But those who survived became full-fledged Americans thankful for the opportunity to succeed or fail on the basis of their own abilities, rather than a caste or other system in the country of their birth that denied them the chance to prove themselves.  They saw the obstacles, including the racial opinions of those already here and established, as challenges to be overcome.  There were no guarantees or gifts of success, but they accepted that as only fair.

African-Americans did not come by choice.  And until freed by the Emancipation Proclamation few had the chance to succeed on their own abilities and merits.  But freed they were, and declared to be citizens of the United States of America.  Did they have challenges due to lack of education?  Yes...but so did those who came from the Mediterranean and Asian countries.  Did they face organized resistance and fear from those already established?  Of course they did, just as did the other groups that had chosen to come here.  The big difference was not the color of their skin; those of Mediterranean and Asian Heritage had the same obstacles. Their big difference was choice!   What was the solution to that challenge?   They could have actively petitioned for funds to travel back to their home country.  Of course, history tends to ignore the fact that African-Americans were sold into slavery by their own countrymen for profit and to eliminate competition for power. Going back to those countries would allow them to look the same as others of their race, but they were unlikely to survive for long...and they had become used to living in America.  So the clear choice for the vast majority was to stay here and strive for a successful free life.

And that struggle was severe in the Southern States of America due to the ingrained attitude of non-African-Americans to see African-Americans as less than equal.  And the North, despite their self-serving claims, wasn't much better;  they simply hid their opinions a bit more effectively.  The Civil Rights Laws passed in the mid-twentieth century as well as the Supreme Court decisions of that ere were needed to provide legal protection for some semblance of equal treatment.  But equal treatment in America as well as throughout the world has always been an illusion rather than a reality.  It hasn't, doesn't and never will exist.  America tries harder than most, but it is an impossible goal because the human race is not equal at all.  We all have different abilities and traits and no one and no government can or should promise equality of anything.  All that can be promised is to allow each person the right to take a chance.  No guarantees of success or any level of result.  People don't grow up equally.  Someone born to well-educated and financially secure parents has a better shot at success than someone born in poverty to parents with no appreciable education.  That is the way of life.  But even a casual study of achievements reveal that a fair number of children born in poverty achieve greater success than those born into wealth and privilege.

The reason that a perception of racism remains so strong today is that our governments' decisions to trace and classify Americans today by Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation and Religion tells us that such differences are important.  It says that even if you are a third generation American, the background of your great grandparents matters...officially.

It shouldn't.  Yes, the laws of this country can provide a legal remedy if one is discriminated against...and they do.  But that should be a private action by one citizen against another...not a basis for tracking by and the interest of the entire Federal Government.  Leaving the government out of tracking such differences would send the clear signal to all of us that such differences do not matter, that we are all Americans and we have that common identity.

Every immigrant group that has come to America has had to comply with the requirements of our immigration laws, has had to adjust to American Society.  In most cases, those coming here would gravitate to hold to themselves for emotional and financial security, even as they encouraged their children to learn English and become "American."  Later generations increasingly became assimilated with the enthusiastic encouragement of the first arrivals...the "melting pot" worked.

Currently there are only two groups where this hasn't taken place;  African-Americans, and those of the Islamic faith.

African-Americans that have failed to escape poverty can look to the Federal Government as the real cause.  By taking the attitude that there needs to be virtually eternal financial support in a variety of forms, the Federal Government has essentially declared that African-Americans cannot succeed on their own efforts and merit.  By so doing they invite and encourage all but the most dedicated and inspired member of that community to just take the offerings of the Federal Government and remain dependent thereon.  They take it...but they are not stupid and do recognize that they are being disrespected and ultimately resent it mightily...and quite correctly start to "cop and attitude."  Any human being would. Want to see a happy community? Provide limits to government support, but provide plenty of job training and guidance.

The other group that has not assimilated is that of the Islamic Faith.  They show no sign of wanting to assimilate.  Apparently, they want to re-create their country of origin here in America.  That includes Sharia Law and a way of living that is contrary to the inherent freedoms of American culture.  Such "separateness" should not be permitted...certainly not the legal attitude.  In America, American Law applies and no area of the United States should be allowed to apply any other standards.  If immigrants fail to follow our laws, they should be deported back to their country of origin.  If already a citizen, they need to be prosecuted and jailed.

But our Federal Government would go a long way to recognizing the equality of every American by applying the policy of benign neglect to any and all attempts to track any racial, gender, ethnic or religious elements of its citizens.  As the populace realizes that it isn't important to the government, they will cease to see it as important to them.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Government may be legal...and still be illegitimate

The United States has just gone through an intense election and the European Union is seeing its member nations involved in an almost universal crisis of confidence in membership in that union.

Most of us have been angry, disturbed or perhaps just uncomfortable with actions that have been judged by our respective national justice systems to be legal even as we "knew" that they were wrong.  Sometimes this has been because of badly worded laws, sometimes because of very good defenses coupled with inadequate or inept prosecutions (or the reverse), and sometimes because it seemed as everyone was so very worried about the individual tree as the forest was left to burn or wither.

In America Free Speech, originally defined to mean that there could, with rare exceptions, not be prevention of the right to say something, has become defined as meaning that whatever and however something is said, there shall be no consequences for it.  That is just a perversion of the original intent.  No longer is it necessary to be certain that your speech is a truthful statement lest you be brought into court for libeling someone...say whatever you want.  This may be legal...but any sane person would suggest that such action should be judged as illegitimate.

The legal system in America has become a tool to enable people to avoid consequences for doing and saying illegitimate things.  Just one example is the treatment of those entering and remaining in our country illegally.  Our Constitution is a contract between its government and its citizens;  it basically establishes that the government will protect its citizens and the country's borders and the citizens will obey the laws that govern the land.  How on earth does any person or group who has NOT obeyed the laws of the United States get the right to claim that the government provide them the protections promised to its citizens?  Those here illegally come to the table as non-parties to the contract and, moreover, they come with unclean hands, having already broken the laws that a citizen, as part of the contract, agrees to obey and abide by.

In France, the people voted NOT to join the European Union...but somehow (who know by what technical legal maneuvers) they are a member.  The fact that France's politicians have done something that they argue was legal, does not make it legitimate.  All over the world, the increased ability to communicate without prior constraint by governments is revealing to the people that their governments are run for the self-defined elites of each country, that the citizens are being made to support the lives of elites who care not one wit for the citizenry.

Strange that the elites seem unable to understand why the people are upset, angry and growing closer and closer to violence each day.  How quickly the elites around the world forget the lessons of the Russian and French revolutions, among many others.  When the government(s) show contempt for the law or use it for their own privileged purposes,  why should they not understand that the citizens will see that they need to act in their own interests regardless of the laws, in the same way that the politicians have done to mistreat the citizens, to regain control of their own lives.

Those in power can only avoid "consequences" for so long before they must account.  And the longer they delay that accounting, the more extreme the consequences.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Open Border" advocates are not "American"

I repeat..."open border" advocates are not "Americans."  Oh, they can be citizens. They can also be citizens of other countries.  But they are absolutely not Americans.

Why?

Because the concept of a country...every country... is that it has borders.  Those borders are definite.  They are defended.  They are enforced.  It is effective borders that make, for instance, Germany different than France, and Italy different from Austria.  If it weren't for borders, eventually the languages would merge, individual traditions would fade and the individual country identifications would fade into oblivion.

Those who advocate open borders for the United States of America ... and for the rest of the world if asked ... are those who believe in a World Order or World Government,

They see no value in the United States Constitution, or any other country's founding documents or beliefs, because it is their intention to create a world-wide unit that will be run by an entity populated by those they consider gifted, educated (by their definition) elites that will direct how the rest of the world's population will behave and live.

Should you doubt this, "google" Agenda 21, read all the basic documents and position papers, then check to see the progress that it has made in various countries of the world and get back to me.

Whether our President was Clinton (Bill or Hillary) or Trump matters little to them except as to the degree either of them would present road blocks to the New One World Order.  Think of it as the German Reich on steroids.

Consider that the United States of America is almost an ungovernable entity as it now exists, thanks to President Lincoln and the Civil War.  And that has nothing to do with slavery.  That is based on the fact that the founding fathers realized that a Republic was an effective and responsive form of government only for a limited area or limited population.  They full expected that as the colonists expanded into the continent and the population grew that new Republics would be formed to retain the responsive self-rule that they so valued.  They full expected those new Republics to create treaties and alliances with the original for the purpose of self-defense, but that each would have a government that would serve the citizens of each respective Republic.  Consider this: at the time of the formation of the Republic, each member of the House of Representatives represented  30.000 people.  Today, each member of the House represents 720,000 people.  To get the same level of responsiveness today, the House would have to consist of over 10,500 people.  Does any sane individual really think that your Elected Representative is influenced by what you...or even you and one thousand of your friends...thinks?  Does any sane person think that this ratio is even in the ball park of ensuring representative government?

But as bad as this is, consider what would happen with a World Government.  Jefferson accurately indicated that eventually government becomes the enemy of individual freedom.

That being so, the question now is whether a sufficient number of our citizens are Americans, and if they are prepared to fight to preserve at least the diluted representative government that we still have.

I don't know the answer...but I suspect that the next decade will reveal the answer.