American Elephants


Is There a “Right” to Health Care? by The Elephant's Child
August 3, 2009, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Health Care, United Kingdom | Tags: , , ,

British author and physician Theodore Dalrymple had a brief and excellent essay in the Wall Street Journal asking “Is There a ‘Right’ to Health Care?” It is an interesting question at this particular time.

There are constant arguments for newly invented  rights coming from the left.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his State of the Union Message to Congress on January 11, 1944, said that the rights guaranteed to us by the Declaration and the Constitution were no longer enough.  He went on to propose a  “Second Bill of Rights” based on “Security and Prosperity.”

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation; to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation; of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living; of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad; of every family to a decent home; to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health; to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; to a good education.

Mark Levin, from whose splendid Liberty and Tyranny I extracted this excerpt, says “This is Tyranny’s disguise.  These are not rights.  They are the Statist’s false promises of utopianism, which the Statist uses to justify all trespasses on the individual’s private property.  Liberty and private property go hand in hand.  By dominating one the Statist dominates both, for if the individual cannot keep or dispose of the value he creates by his own intellectual and/or physical labor, he exists to serve the state.  The ‘Second Bill of Rights’ and its legal and policy progeny require the individual to surrender control of his fate to the government.”

Hollywood dreams up its fantasies of world’s end with wrecked and vacant cities and perhaps inures us to the very real things that happen in this world of ours.  If we do not understand history we neither appreciate what we have,  nor grasp the possibilities of what could be.

If you do not look at the stories and pictures coming out of Iran and understand what it is like to live under tyranny, you are missing the point that is so clearly made.  Venezuela, under Caesar Chavez, is eliminating the right to free speech. Cuba, we are told,  has splendid health care, but it is only for cash-paying tourists.  Ordinary Cubans get dirty rooms and abysmal care. Tyranny doesn’t come lumbering in loudly announcing itself,  it creeps in gradually offering goodies if you will just allow those who are wiser and more important to control your life.

In Britain, Mr. Dalrymple says, the recognition of a “right” to health care has led to substandard care.

If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it.  Inevitably, that “someone” is the government.  Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.

People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products.  It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself.  This is wrong:  There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter, and clothing.

Everyone agrees that hunger is a bad thing (as is overeating),. but few suppose there is a right to a healthy, balanced diet, or that if there was, the federal government would be the best at providing and distributing it to each and every American.

Where does the right to health care come from?  Did it exist in, say, 250 B.C., or in A.D. 1750? If it did, how was it that our ancestors, who were no less intelligent than we, failed completely to notice it?

If, on the other hand, the right to health care did not exist in those benighted days, how did it come into existence, and how did we come to recognize it once it did?

When the supposed right to health care is widely recognized, as in the United Kingdom, it tends to reduce moral imagination.  Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, “So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?”

When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence.  He cannot think of one.

The rest of the essay is to be found here.  As a physician, Mr Dalrymple has long practiced in Britain, and his reflections on the British Health Care system (NHS) are worth a great deal of thought.



The Half-Blood Prince! by American Elephant

Click to view trailer

Click to view trailer

If you’ve been with us a while, you might have noticed I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter books, and, only slightly less so, the movies. So, naturally, I have been waiting very impatiently for the first glimpse of the movie of the 6th book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

That wait is over.

The movie, which comes out in November (precisely 113 days, 20 hours, 15 minutes and 20 seconds from the time of this writing), has also been chosen as this year’s Royal Film Performance. It’s not clear just which Royal will attend — I’m putting my money on Harry or William. But who knows! maybe they’ll drag her Majesty, the Queen, along for the show.

In any case, if you’ve read the book, most of the trailer should make sense to you. But be forewarned! they have apparently added a scene to the movie to illustrate the increasing dangers Voldemort and his death eaters pose to the outside world, and especially to Harry himself. Its a scene where Fenrir Greyback and Bellatrix LeStrange attack Harry and the Weasleys at the Burrow. I am dubious, to say the least. I don’t like it when they mess with my movies!

Nonetheless, I wait patiently for the theatrical trailer. This is one of the best books in the series and promises to be one of the most exciting movies yet.

November is a very long time away!

Luna Lovegood Spectrespecs HBP



Brit Paper Mocks the Obamessiah by Emerald City Elephant

Brilliant!

And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child’s very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light. [read more]



Brave New World indeed… by The Elephant's Child

The left, having discarded the “liberal” label, think of themselves as “progressives”. Yet much of what they have in mind for us is just plain old socialism. Americans, used to our freedoms and our bill of rights, seldom realize just how bad it can get.

It’s wise to keep an eye on Britain’s National Health Service as it slowly falls apart, for the Democrats are anxious to soak us with single-payer health insurance (socialized medicine). Canada is also a prime example of the folly of these government health insurance plans. No, it is not free medical care, it just pretends to be free.

Now comes an article from Britain’s Daily Mail that notes that there are over1,000 laws that will allow the state to invade your home. The Big Brother state, under the Labour government, has introduced nearly half of the 1,043 laws that give the authorities the power to enter a home or business. They give the state the right to:

•Invade your home to see if your potted plants have pests or do not have a ‘plant passport’ (Plant Health England Order 2005).

•Survey your home and garden to see if your hedge is too high (Anti -Social Behavior Act 2003).

•Check that accommodation given to asylum-seekers is not being lived in by non-asylum seekers (Immigration and Asylum Act 1999).

•Raid a house to check if unlicensed gambling is taking place (Gambling Act 2005 Inspection Regulations 2007).

•Seize refrigerators without the correct energy rating (Energy Information Household Refrigerators and Freezers Regulations 2004).

New powers set to be approved by Parliament include inspecting for non-human genetic material, for looted cultural property from Iraq and for “undeclared ” carbon dioxide, as well as enforcing bin tax.

Householders can be fined up to £5,000 if they refuse entry or ‘obstruct’ an official.

Is this our future?



While Rome Burns… by American Elephant

World Leaders kick off global food-crisis summit with lavish 8 course dinner:

The dinner consisted of 18 dishes in eight courses including caviar, smoked salmon, Kyoto beef and a “G8 fantasy dessert”.

The banquet was accompanied by five different wines from around the world including champagne, a French Bourgogne and sake.

African leaders including the heads of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Senegal who had taken part in talks during the day were not invited to the function.

The dinner came just hours after a “working lunch” consisting of six courses including white asparagus and truffle soup, crab and a supreme of chicken.

…On the flight to the summit, Mr Brown urged Britons to cut food waste as part of a global drive to help avert the food crisis. [emphasis mine]

Symbolism matters. This was a boneheaded move by all those involved.



Dear Barack Obama…. by The Elephant's Child

I received a letter from Barack Obama yesterday. I was interested because it was the first ‘personal’ communication I have had from Barack. He said that “together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea. Yes we can…”

Well, O.K. Can what? “A chorus of millions calling for change.” Change what? He says: “I’ll be a President who finally brings Democrats and Republicans together to make health care affordable and available for every single American.” His Messiahness surely has great confidence in his own ability to fix everything. Unfortunately his record does not indicate that he can do any such thing.

Obama has made it clear that he is in favor of single-payer health care, not something that any Republicans have proposed. Republicans look at the history of countries like us who have instituted socialized medicine, (for that is what single-payer is) and really don’t think that is the way to go.

Have you ever heard of Claude Castonguay? In the 1960s Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health care reform and recommended that his own province of Quebec adopt government-administered health care covering all citizens through tax levies. The government followed his advice, and soon his ideas were implemented coast to coast.

Forty years later, Castonguay was again in charge of a committee reviewing Quebec health care. The committee concluded that the system is in crisis. “We thought we could resolve the system’s problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it,” he said.

Now he recommends a drastic overhaul. They propose to give a greater role to the private sector so that the people can exercise freedom of choice. Oh.

Investors Business Daily tells about “Sylvia de Vires, an Ontario woman afflicted with a 13-inch, fluid-filled tumor weighing 40 pounds who was unable to get timely care in Canada. She crossed the American border to Pontiac, Michigan, where a surgeon removed the tumor, estimating that she could not have lived longer than a few weeks more.”

“The Canadian government pays for U.S. medical care in some circumstances, but it declined to do so in de Vires’ case for a bureaucratically perfect, but inhumane, reason; she hadn’t properly filled out a form.” This is not unusual. In Norwalk, Ontario, people participate in lotteries to win appointments with the local family doctor. Oh.

In Britain, the Labour government vilifies anyone who suggests a different system of health care. A woman who was dying of cancer was denied NHS treatment in her final months — because she had paid privately for a drug which offered her the chance of living longer, but which NHS refused to provide. When she used her own money, NHS refused all treatment including chemotherapy.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has ordered the NHS trusts to refuse to allow patients to pay for additional medicines. This was to stop a ‘two-tier’ service where people who were receiving top quality drugs were being treated in the same wards with those getting only standard NHS medicines.

The Ministry of Health declared that British patients should be treated in the ER within four hours. As a result, in some hospitals seriously ill patients were kept in parked ambulances for hours to avoid disobeying the regulation.

In Texas, Republican Governor Rick Perry has pushed through tort reform that lowers liability insurance for doctors. The result? Doctors are flocking to Texas. In Florida, Republican Governor Crist has opened the state to insurance companies from all over the country. The result? The cost of health insurance is dropping significantly.

Obama said that he “doesn’t want to wake up four years from now and find out that millions of Americans still lack health care because we couldn’t take on the insurance industry.” The Insurance industry? Health care is expensive because of the insurance industry? How about MRIs or CAT scans? How about all the miraculous new drugs and new treatments that are saving lives? Today you decide what treatment you want. You would rather leave that decision to a bunch of bureaucrats? Health care is expensive now because of government interference in the market, not because the insurance industry is evil.

Obama revisited his usual canard about George W. Bush’s “failed policies on the war in Iraq”, apparently still unaware that Iraq is turning into a real success, since he has neither visited Iraq nor talked to the Generals in charge.

He says “if those Republicans come at me with the same fear-mongering and swift-boating that they usually do, then I will take them on head on.” Obama apparently does not recall that dreadful day of 9/11, or else he just believes, in spite of vast evidence to to the contrary, that the attack on the twin towers was a one-off event. George W. Bush has done a pretty remarkable job of protecting us over the past seven years, in spite of a number of unsuccessful attempts. The danger is real, and attempting to smear the President for recognizing that fact is, at best, crass. Obama seems to be more interested in whether or not other nations like us. And the swift-boat veterans, by the way, decisively proved that John Kerry was a liar.

Obama has proved his naÏve view of events by claiming that his opposition to the War in Iraq when he was a back-bencher in the Illinois state legislature was either wise or something to brag about.

He tries to blame the Bush tax cuts which have fostered an 8 year economic boom with the usual “tax-cuts for the wealthy” misrepresentation. And of course, brags that he will end them. Oh dear. Robert Mundell, Nobel Prize winning economist has some advice for Obama.

Obama’s letter goes on for 6 pages, but hasn’t really much to say except for flowery statements of hope and change. He offers hope, undefined, except that we are supposed to hope for change, which is defined as reaching back into the past for Democrat ideas that didn’t work.

After the six pages, we get to the meat of the missive: the asking for money part. “Dear Barack, I agree! We are the ones we’ve been waiting for…we are the change we seek. You can count on me to support…”

Well, no, sorry, you can’t.



Exactly Why Democrats are Dead Wrong on Detainees by American Elephant

The Supreme Court’s repugnant, extra-constitutional 5-4 Boumediene decision last week conferred on illegal combatants more rights than were given to even Nazi’s during WWII. It gave foreign born terrorists, fighting in manners violating the Geneva Conventions, and captured on the battlefield access to American civil courts. The most egregious usurpation of constitutionally granted war powers by the courts in our nation’s history.

Democrats were overjoyed with the decision.

As if in response comes this story from Britain:

Abu Qatada, the radical Islamic cleric described as Osama bin Laden’s “right-hand man in Europe”, has been released from jail after a judge ruled that there were no grounds to keep him in prison.

The decision to allow him to return to his home in London – where he will receive around £1,000 per month in state benefits – made a mockery of the government’s promise to crack down on terror suspects, and embarrassed the Home Office, which had pledged to deport Qatada to Jordan to face terror charges.

Qatada is not only known as “Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe,” but is wanted in Jordan for terrorist activity and has been accused of inspiring the attacks on America because videos of his sermons were found among the possessions of Mohammad Atta and other 9/11 hijackers.

The same court that released him previously described him as

“a truly dangerous individual” who was “heavily involved, indeed at the centre of terrorist activities associated with al-Qa’eda”.

In other words, everyone knows he’s a terrorist, everyone knows he is dangerous, but the courts refuse to allow him to be extradicted and have now set him free.

This is precisely why the courts have no business whatsoever involving themselves in the war on terror. It’s a war, not a legal matter. Precisely why the constitution granted sole war making powers to the president, and to a lesser degree congress.

As if to emphasize the risibility of the decision, the court also specifically stated that Qatada is prohibited from receiving visits from Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Hamza, and… Osama bin Laden!

Phew. That’s a relief!



Brave New World by The Elephant's Child

Is this the world of the future? Gordon Brown announced last summer, plans for 10 eco-towns in response to the housing shortage in Britain. Half of the households in eco-towns will have to live without a car, and those that have one will be limited to a speed-limit of 15mph.

These new towns will have about 20,000 residents each, and such amenities as skateboard parks will be included to help achieve community cohesion. Rainwater will be captured and wastewater recycled so there is no overall increase in water demand.

The Secretary of State for Communities and the Minister for Housing and Planning have other plans. Happy socialist plans to assure that everyone gets along. The possibility of limiting Britain’s open door immigration policies to ease the housing crisis seems never to have occurred to anyone.

Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, has a must-read article from the Daily Mail about what is happening to England, and what seems to be her inexorable future.

Glowing descriptions of the eco-communities of the future sound uncomfortably familiar to the glowing descriptions of gracious apartment buildings in “modern housing projects” that were described to us many years ago. The notion that government can do a better job of planning our future than we can, is fairly frightening.

There’ll always be an England
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.

 




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