Saturday, July 23, 2011

It Should All Be Free

Free medicine! That's what Obamacare has brought you -- or should bring you, at least according to CNN.

The story's opening sentence set the tone: "Contraceptives, sterilization and reproductive education should be covered by health insurance plans with no cost to patients under the health reform law, a new report recommends."

In a tone that can only be called cheerleading, CNN tells its audience that the Institute of Medicine has made these recommendations to the secretary of Health and Human Services. "Historic" is the way HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius described the report, adding that "we will release the Department's recommendations of what additional preventive services for women should be covered without cost sharing very soon."

Now, why, you may wonder, does the secretary of Health and Human Services get to decide whether to adopt the report's recommendations? Well, under Obamacare, health care has been nationalized. Among the roughly 700 references in the law to "the Secretary shall" is one mandating that the secretary shall decide which health care plans are acceptable in America and which are not. If a plan does not comply with HHS mandates, companies and individuals who purchase their products will have to pay a fine. In other words, under Obamacare, the secretary of HHS decides who gets covered for what.

The secretary is now considering whether all health plans in America will have to cover birth control, annual HIV tests, well-woman care visits, annual counseling on sexually transmitted diseases, breastfeeding support and counseling including rental of breast pumps, and screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic abuse. These services should be covered "without any co-pays or deductibles," the report by the Institute of Medicine urges. In other words, these products and services should be "free" for all women, not just for the poor.

CNN quotes the president of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr. James Martin Jr., who believes that "unimpeded access to affordable contraceptives for all women is foundational."

But why stop there? The biggest killer of women is heart disease. Shouldn't cholesterol tests, EKGs and stress tests be covered by insurance at no cost to the women themselves? And surely counseling about the risks of a high-fat diet and sedentary lifestyle should be included, too, no? At no cost to the patients, of course. And then there's cancer, the second biggest threat to women's health. So mammograms and annual doctor visits should be free. And certainly counseling about the dangers of smoking, excessive drinking and poor diet should be "fully covered," as well. Come to think of it, gym memberships should definitely be covered at no cost to the women.

But what about men? Men are far less likely than women to seek medical treatment. And men are dropping every year from heart attacks, strokes, accidents and cancer. Surely if their "well-man" annuals were "free," they would be more likely to get the treatment and preventive care they need.

And what about helpless children? Surely only an ogre would want to charge children a fee to get their vaccinations, checkups and medicine. And certainly adolescents should receive counseling about sexuality, date rape, drugs and alcohol. Shall we say monthly? Perhaps weekly?

Sebelius praised the IOM report as "based on science and existing literature." By literature, she perhaps means Cinderella, in which a kindly fairy grandmother waves a magic wand and produces dresses, coaches and jewels "at no cost" to Cinderella. She surely cannot mean the medical literature.

Though the Obama administration never tires of repeating this falsehood, the science does not support the claim that increased spending on preventive care reduces overall costs. The journal Health Affairs has studied the literature and concluded, "Over the four decades since cost-effectiveness analysis was first applied to health and medicine, hundreds of studies have shown that prevention usually adds to medical costs instead of reducing them. Medications for hypertension and elevated cholesterol, diet and exercise to prevent diabetes, and screening and early treatment for cancer all add more to medical costs than they save."

An administration that preens about its "evidence-based" policymaking constantly errs about what medical research has shown. But even more flagrantly, it fails to grasp the very first lesson of economics: Nothing is free. Someone will pay. As the great P.J. O'Rourke put it many years ago, "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait till it's free."



The Empire Strikes Back

Oliver North

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. -- "Will your Boykin hunt?" asked the young man, admiring the little red spaniel at my side. "Casey" wagged her tail and sat, patiently waiting for me to check out of the local farmers market with a basket of fresh peaches, corn and tomatoes.

"She's not yet a year old, but she already works well into the wind, can kick up a bird and if I shoot right and retrieves to hand," I replied with no small amount of hubris. The conversation abruptly shifted to international politics -- but not in the direction I expected. "What are you going to do with her once 'The Empire' bans your shotguns?" he asked.

For a moment, I was lost. "The Empire?" "Yeah," he said, "the U.N. -- the global imperial government in New York. 'The Empire' wants to control who can buy or keep a shotgun."

I'm used to strangers approaching me on topics such as hunting, the war, our troops serving in harm's way, the national debt, taxes and the endless list of presidential candidates. But it's unusual for an interlocutor to shift instantly from hunting to the United Nations. So I asked, "Why do you think that could happen while we still have a Second Amendment in our Constitution? The American people wouldn't stand for it."

"Do you really think 'We the People' are paying attention to what the U.N. is doing while we're distracted with everything else that's going on?"

It was a reasonable question -- and I concluded: "No, most people probably aren't engaged on this issue. But some of us are, and there are more than 80 million U.S. gun owners. I'm on the board of the National Rifle Association, and we're paying attention."

"Good," the young man replied with a smile, "because I helped elect you. I'm a life member of the NRA."

After paying for our produce, we spoke for a few more minutes in the parking lot. I again assured him that the NRA and organizations such as Freedom Alliance are doing their best to preserve Americans' individual liberties and protect U.S. sovereignty and security -- even though it often appears to be an uphill fight. I then went home to dig into what the globalists at the U.N. are preparing for us. As usual, it isn't good.

For five years now, various committees of the United Nations purport to have been drafting "an internationally acceptable Arms Trade Treaty" that "will make the world safer." If the U.N.'s "Open-Ended Working Group on an ATT" completes its "work" on time, the treaty will be voted on next year. The Obama administration is on record supporting the measure, claiming, "The United States is committed to actively pursuing a strong and robust treaty that contains the highest possible, legally binding standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons."

Earlier this month, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, went to the big blue building in New York to tell the America haters of the "Working Group," in unequivocal terms, why the current draft of the treaty is unacceptable: "The right to keep and bear arms in defense of self, family and country is ultimately self-evident and is part of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. Reduced to its core, it is about fundamental individual freedom, human worth and self-destiny." He noted that among the many flaws of the ATT, "a manufacturer of civilian shotguns would have to comply with the same regulatory process as a manufacturer of military attack helicopters."

Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon, who wrote the book on how the U.N. usurps U.S. sovereignty, "Diplomatic Divorce," says we shouldn't be surprised at the international forum's end run on the U.S. Constitution. "The U.N. is a global-leftist organization that uses multilateral treaties like the ATT to enforce their will upon all humankind. It's the ultimate power play. To them, the U.S. Constitution and the sovereign rights of American citizens are irrelevant. If they have their way, they will create a vast new international bureaucracy to document, regulate, track, supervise, inspect and maintain surveillance over every firearm ever made. Such a regime ought to be completely unacceptable to every American."

LaPierre and Kilgannon make clear that including civilian firearms in the ATT is unacceptable to the NRA and Freedom Alliance. Whether that will be sufficient to convince the Obama administration remains to be seen. But there is some good news in all of this.

As we parted ways at the local farmers market, my inquisitor stuck out his hand and said: "You served in the Marines. I was in the Army. We both took an oath to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States.' I hope that still matters." When he got into his truck, I noticed his license plate: Massachusetts. Home of Paul Revere, John Adams, John Hancock. When an empire struck at Americans in 1775, they knew what to do. Let's hope we still do.



Could You Survive Another Great Depression?

Paul Kengor

I just read two very interesting articles on the U.S. economy, written from historical perspectives. They compelled me to share my own historical perspective. And what I want to say is more about our changing culture than our economy.

One of the articles, by Julie Crawshaw of, notes that the "Misery Index"—the combined unemployment and inflation rates—made infamous under President Jimmy Carter, has hit a 28-year high. It's also 62 percent higher than when President Obama took office.

But that's nothing compared to Mort Zuckerman's article in U.S. News & World Report. Zuckerman measures the current situation against the Great Depression. He writes:

"jobs, wiping out every job gained since the year 2000. From the moment the Obama administration came into office, there have been no net increases in full-time jobs, only in part-time jobs. This is contrary to all previous recessions. Employers are not recalling the workers they laid off.... We now have more idle men and women than at any time since the Great Depression."

Zuckerman is a perceptive writer who looks at economies from a historical perspective. In my comparative politics course at Grove City College, I use his article on the Russian collapse in the 1990s, which Zuckerman showed was worse than our Great Depression.

I can't say we're teetering on that precipice, but Zuckerman's article got me thinking: Imagine if America today experienced an economic catastrophe similar to the 1930s. How would you survive?

I remember asking that question to my grandparents, Joseph and Philomena. How did they survive the Great Depression?

My grandmother, never at a loss for words, direly described how her family avoided starving. Compensation came via barter. Her father, an Italian immigrant, baked bread and cured meats in an oven in the tiny backyard, among other trades he learned in the old country. My grandmother cleaned the house and babysat and bathed the children of a family who owned a grocery store. They paid her with store products. Her family struggled through by creatively employing everyone’s unique skills.

What about my grandfather? When I asked that question as he sat silently, my grandmother raised her loud Italian voice and snapped: "Ah, he didn't suffer! Don’t even ask him!"

My grandfather, also Italian, returned the shout: "Ah, you shut up! You're a damned fool!" Grandma: "No, you're a damned fool!"

After the typical several minutes of sustained insults, my grandfather explained that, indeed, his family didn’t suffer during the depression. They noticed no difference whatsoever, even as America came apart at the seams.

Why not? Because they were farmers. They got everything from the land, from crops and animals they raised and hunted to fish they caught. They raised every animal possible, from cattle to rabbits. They ate everything from the pig, from head to feet. There were eggs from chickens and cheese and milk from goats and cows. There were wild plants.

I was captivated as my grandfather explained his family's method of refrigeration: During the winter, they broke ice from the creek and hauled it into the barn, where it was packed in sawdust for use through the summer. They didn’t over-eat. They preserved food, and there was always enough for the family of 12.

When their clothes ripped, they sewed them. When machines broke, they fixed them. They didn't over-spend. Home repairs weren’t contracted out. Heat came from wood they gathered. And they didn't need 1,000 acres of land to do this.

They were totally self-sufficient—and far from alone. Back then, most Americans farmed, knew how to grow things, or provided for themselves to some significant degree.

That conversation with my grandparents came to mind as I read Zuckerman's piece and considered life under another Great Depression. I realized: The vast majority of Americans today would be incapable of providing for themselves. If you live in the city with no land, you'd be in big trouble. Even most Americans, who have a yard with soil, wouldn’t know what to do.

Isn’t it ironic that with all our scandalously expensive education—far more than our grandparents' schooling—we've learned so little? We can't fix our car let alone shoot, gut, skin, and butcher a deer.

Think about it: If you lacked income for food, or if prices skyrocketed, or your money was valueless, what would you do for yourself and your family?

Americans today are a lifetime from their grandparents and great grandparents. God help us if we ever face a calamity like the one they faced—and survived.



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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