What are we fighting for?

Editor’s Note:  I wrote this back about 3 months or so, ago.  I was going to add a paragraph or two about my Dad, which I might do as an extended piece, but I thought I would get it posted now, as it has spent far too much time on my “To Do” list.

 

 

As the debate about health care continues, with President Trump and many of his supporters leading the way to repeal the ACA despite the lack of a real plan of action to replace or repair what is left, I find myself considering what it is we hope to accomplish with our country, our government.  What do we consider important at the national level, as a nation?  To what use do we put that blunt instrument that is our federal government?  That our government has grown large and unwieldy, straining under its own massive weight is no surprise to us.  We know it is fat, and growing larger.  We know that is too large, too heavy to support.  The Fed has grown in size and weight, but accomplishes less and less despite its increase in size and resources.  Both corporations and private citizens have attached themselves to that bloated mass, feeding off its excess like a tick to a mangy dog.  And those very fat, very happy ticks, they don’t want anything to change with their host.  No, even if the overall health and state of the union should falter, do not change anything lest their meal ticket become endangered.

This piece isn’t an analysis of the government, however.  It isn’t here to discuss the wasted resources and corporate whore mongering that goes on in our nation’s capital.  This essay is here to ask a basic question of ourselves.  What is it do we want our government to do for us?  What freedom and pursuit of happiness are we defending with our military?  What justice do we purport to provide to those of our nation that are too broke to pursue our self-evident truths?  In a nation as rich as ours, in a land as large as ours, truly our government should be responsible for very few things at the Federal level.  It is rarely the best tool for the job.  Help keep the common law consistent.  Help keep our perspective on infrastructure.  Facilitate communication among the States and their people as a whole, these things a Federal Government can do.  I would suggest to you that central to all of these things is the People.  Whatsoever our government does, it should be in the most benefit to her people, to the support of the pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness.  But what good is life, if we cannot enjoy it?  What good is liberty, if we cannot live it.  How can we have happiness if we are not healthy enough to pursue it?  People are the life’s blood of this country, the means be which everything is accomplished.  If our People are not healthy, how can our nation succeed?  We can educate ourselves, feed ourselves, defend ourselves- but only if we are healthy enough to do so.  In the past, collectively we have agreed that things like education, warfare, defense and trade are things we should spend our wealth on.  They are things that we considered integral to our nation, enough so to put into the Federal Government’s hands.  Why then, do we not consider our health such an asset, one worthy of our collective effort?  What else is worth fighting for if we don’t have our health?

 

A take on the healthcare plan

Economix had a fun tear down of the current plan put forth by the President and the GOP to replace the current ACA.  The author’s politics run counter to Trump’s and the far right, but he does a pretty good job of keeping it real from an economic standpoint.  He also points out that one of the big issues of repealing the ACA is how much of it was based on Republican ideas.  If you’re protesting your own ideas, your alternative options tend be even more limited and extreme.

One of the things he briefly touches on, but doesn’t really address, is that success is sometimes measured by how we failed less than previously.  Specifically I am speaking about the rise of costs and premiums, which continued to rise at rapid rates during the ACA, with many traditionally conservative states seeing the largest increases.  The success is that some of the increases were less than the increases seeing prior to the ACA.  That kind of measuring for success works in the short term, but if you’re measuring against a flood, either do something different or build a boat…
Another thing the author glosses over is the use of subsidies.  Although he points out that the Feds will subsidize the premium for the States, which he uses as an argument for why some states should have adopted the ACA, he ignores their premise for why they might have rejected it in the first place – It doesn’t matter whether the Federal government or the State government subsidizes the premium, it’s still a redistribution of wealth.  If you’re opposing the ACA, or any similar plan, because of your opposition to Taxation, any argument involving subsidies is going to fall flat.

Take the analysis for what it is, a visual breakdown of the shortcomings of the current and proposed plans, as well as a bit of insight as to why things might not be working as they could.  It’s a fun read and he lists his references, so if you disagree with a particular point, you can at least see what he based his argument on.

Accidental Success

I think this current administration may end up one of the more successful ones in history. Not because of great leadership, Trump is a lousy leader. And not because of his deft skills, I think he’s proving rather unqualified, so far.

No, it’s going to be great by accident, as a by product of him being himself. I may be wrong, President Trump has shown a penchant for learning on the job- right before he goes and shoots himself in the foot, but I digress.

One of the reasons I say this is President Trump’s relationship with the media, or lack there of. He has managed to insult and alienate most legitimate news sources, angering them and forcing them on the defensive. The media has enjoyed a fairly easy relationship with most recent presidents. They were courted, treated nicely. Trump has provided a rather rude awakening for them, and this is a very good thing. Surrounded by plenty of web sites willing to print false news to either benefit or disparage the current president and gain those oh so precious page views, the Press is now forced to go on the offensive, rooting out every story and making sure they have the facts right the first time. President Trump is under the magnifying lens of a group that hasn’t had to work very hard in generations – but they still remember how to do their jobs.

Marching side by side

Protests are a funny thing, most people don’t like them even when they have legitimate points.  Most recently I think of the election, the equal rights and various civil rights protests going on since the 9th of November, but I’m also thinking of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Vietnam protests and, of course, the protests of Dr. King.  Most of these protests were condemned and derided, even as they spoke to fairly large segment of people.  Protests on a national or semi-national scale take time to gain momentum, especially the ones pre social media.  If enough of your population is motivated to come together in mass to protest a social issue, overcoming the apathy and inertia so common to a populace that live relatively comfortably, you should probably take it seriously, even if you don’t agree with it.

Protests are inconvenient, they block are walkways and streets, they make noise in the otherwise idyllic cacophony found in most metropolitan hubs.  They draw attention to negative things, uncomfortable social disparities, and they often include people who we determine should not be there.  You know them, the ones that we think of as already having all those pesky rights and social niceties, those privileges already afforded them.  Why should they be out there protesting?  It’s easier to maintain apathy when you can criticize the inconsequential.

It will be interesting to see how President Trump handles these protests to some of his ideas, indeed, to himself.  He’s notoriously thin skinned and not one to take a perceived slight.  President Obama could probably give him some advice in that area…

No clothes and nobody to tell him

Trump orders a media blackout at the EPA

It seems his approach to generating new jobs/business will be to essentially remove regulation as a barrier.  I won’t argue that there are many areas where we are over regulated.  Perhaps I’m being self-serving, but I’d argue that the shipping industry is one such area.  With that in mind, beware the brain surgeon who uses a butcher knife.

One thing I am not happy about is the media blackout.  This has me very concerned.  Trump is moving to reduce lines of communication and potential avenues of criticism, his thin skin and penchant for a heavy hand is showing.

 

Manic Monday

Well,

It’s the start of his first full week in office.  Kind of interesting.  Pulls out the TPP, and wants to renegotiate NAFTA, too.  I support that move.  Then does the usual Republican thing with abortions, which I wish would just stop.  Enough political back and forth between the Right & Left on that.  His plan to defund Planned Parenthood is a bad one.  Not because of the actual funding issue, but the reasoning behind it.  It’s not consistent or honest.  Myself, I would prefer it if PP were completely privately funded but able to bill the .Gov just like other hospitals.  It removes the political sword from their necks and gives them the autonomy they need, and should have, to operate with their best interests in mind.  I say this as somebody who is pro choice but very much against abortion.

I’m none too happy on his picks for education or the FCC.  His education pick has no damn clue about public education, though I am for charter schools.  His pick to head the FCC has been in bed with cable and telecom so much that I’m pretty sure it’s their logos on his underwear.  Tom Wheeler was a very welcome surprise but I don’t think we’ll find the same advocate in Ajit Pai.

Post Debate – The First Penis

Back around 1996 there was a movie featuring Jack Lemmon and James Garner titled, “My Fellow Americans“.  Tonight’s debate, and the references to certain anatomical parts reminded me of a scene in which former President Douglas, played by James Garner, is using the restroom.  In comes a gentlemen who recognizes him and wants to shake his hand.  Garner’s line is fantastic, “I can’t shake right now. Have to keep my hands on the First Penis.”  Very apt, this evening.

Great movie by the way, grab a chance to watch it, if you can.

Trump on Healthcare

Trump released his healthcare plan today, or at least the talking points.  I’m not sure who wrote it for him, but the guy deserves a raise.  It actually reads fairly well and offers a decent rebuttal to Bernie’s single payer option.  Unfortunately it fails to try and convince the Democrats to come together and craft something better.  Instead it gives a shout out to all those hardworking Republicans who have been, “offering reforms that can be delivered individually or as part of more comprehensive reform efforts.”  I believe the correct phrase is, “completely refusing to work on the original bill and then attempting to repeal the Act while offering token “alternatives” that were actually thinly disguised attempts at repealing the Act again and again.”  Please don’t misunderstand my position, I am not a fan of the ACA, I think it’s a poorly crafted and ill thought out solution to a serious problem in our country.  Made even worse by the fact that it lacked half of our representatives input.  Quite frankly, the only thing worse than the ACA in health care at this point, is the state of our health care system itself.  It is not sustainable.

Still, Trumps talking points on healthcare would be a good starting point.

Still not voting for him, however.