Posted By Neal Boortz On March 9, 2010 (6:25 am) In Voices and Choices

There is one thing that Democrats, Republicans and Independents can all agree on – the debt we owe is our greatest long-term threat to national security. By a two-to-one margin, Americans of all demographics and political parties believe that the amount of money we owe to China is now a greater long-term threat than radical Islam. They’re right, but it’s must worse than that. The level of debt facing this country will destroy the dreams of our children and grandchildren. It is hard to imagine that future generations will have the opportunity to pursue anything close to the lifestyle we enjoy as they are faced with this crushing debt to retire.

Just how bad is this problem? Read on …..

Last Friday, the Congressional Budget office released a report stating that our projected debt is actually going to be much higher than the White House predicted. Wow! Now who didn’t see THAT coming? The CBO says that Obama’s budget is going to lead to annual deficits averaging $1 trillion for the next decade. The White House’s prediction was an annual budget shortfall of $853 billion for the next decade. Why the discrepancy? Obama expects to bring in more tax revenue. The CBO, on the other hand, does not believe the Obama economy will be able to generate the tax revenue because it expects less economic growth. In fact, the CBO predicts that the deficit will never fall below 4% of the GDP under Obama’s policies and “would begin to grow rapidly after 2015.”

(By the way, as of right now our predicted annual deficit for this year is $1.5 trillion – a post WWII record at 10.3% of our economy.)

But back to this report … the CBO says that deficits of that magnitude would force the Treasury to continue borrowing at prodigious rates, sending the national debt soaring to 90% of the economy by 2020, while interest payments on the debt would also skyrocket by $800 billion over the same period.

Speaking of interest rates, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell puts our interest rates into perspective. He says, ” … in just four years the administration predicts the government will have to spend more just to pay interest on the federal debt than it spends on the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, HUD (Housing and Urban Development), Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Treasury, and the Corps of Engineers, Environment Protection Agency, GSA (General Services Administration), NASA, National Science Foundation, Small Business Administration and the Social Security Administration — combined.”

BY William Anderson

August 31, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 46

We are berated, ad nauseam, with imprecations that America is the only advanced nation that fails to have universal health care. This statement is often followed by the rueful remark that the debate over government controlled health care has been going on without progress for 60 years and, ipso facto, it is time to settle it.

All right, let’s do that. Let’s look a little deeper. Why is there no settlement of the issue, and why is America unique in its obstinate reluctance to follow the example of our older cultural brothers in Europe?

When a debate continues for decades without resolution, it is prudent to consider the deeper underlying assumptions. Principles which underpin the arguments are likely being ignored and marginalized rather than addressed in a forthright manner.

America is the only advanced country whose founding assumption is popular sovereignty. This is a proposition that stands with hardly a seconding voice throughout the contemporary international community. Yet it is the taproot of American exceptionalism.

Even here, however, the principle of government subordination to the people is by no means universally accepted. It has never been firmly ratified by our political class, those spiritual descendants of Europe’s nobility. Our soi-disant elite appear to view with dismay their countrymen’s continuing preference for self-rule.

Thus arises the question of corporal ownership. For Americans, the answer has been settled. Since the terrible bloodletting of the Civil War, and now excepting military service, ownership of one’s body is a matter between the individual and God, with no intermediation by government.

Yet assertions are now being made that government should have responsibility for, and thus authority over, the maintenance of our bodies. It necessarily follows that government must have the power to approve or withhold care. This concept collides destructively with the founding principles of individual responsibility and autonomy upon which popular sovereignty depends.

This is the reason that the debate never ends. It is also the reason that any resolution of the question will necessarily either confirm or deny the original intent of the Founders.

So let’s make up our minds. Does the government, in the last analysis, own your body, or do you? If your answer is the former, be aware that you have opted for veterinary medicine, for you are now accepting the moral status of a domestic animal. If your answer is the latter, you must accept responsibility to make mortal decisions for yourself, and pay for the care that you want with money that you have reason to see as your own.

Such money is not out of reach. Medical savings accounts, amalgamated with catastrophic insurance, could take the place of the ad hoc hodgepodge of plans, schemes, dissimulations, and promises under which we are now burdened and threatened.

And there would be greater efficiency and encouragement of individual choice. We all have an enhanced interest in thriftiness and fair value when we, and not third parties, are the payers.

The wisdom expressed in the Federalist Papers began with the insight that men are not angels. The system that the authors designed placed liberty at the head of other considerations. The Founders were determined that concentrations of power should be confounded.

The system now congealing in Congress for health care is not informed by such principles. Access to the most intimate personal information, direct interaction with bank accounts, and mandated Procrustean protocols remain features of the various schemes under consideration. Such programs would be managed by impenetrable, impersonal, and unaccountable bureaucracies. Do we wish to place such profound coercive powers in the hands of anyone, much less those who now stand expectant and eager to receive them?

The view of human nature recognized by the Founders is now in grave peril. Whither goes America? Was liberty merely an 18th-century fad, or is there still something exceptional about our country?

William Anderson, a retired physician, teaches at Harvard University and consults to the intelligence community.

Read the Reason article by Ronald Bailey here.

Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.

By JOHN MACKEY

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out
of other people’s money.”

  —Margaret Thatcher

 

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people’s money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

Chad Crowe

Mackey2

Mackey2

• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees’ Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

• Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor’s visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That’s because there isn’t any. This “right” has never existed in America

Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.

Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor’s Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.

At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an “intrinsic right to health care”? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.—or in any other country.

Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.

Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

Mr. Mackey is co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc.

Read the Marin IJ article here.

By tradition, on the last day of the CPAC conference, attendees conduct a straw poll to indicate which Republican candidate they would support. Yesterday’s straw poll resulted in Ron Paul receiving 31%, the most votes. In second place was Mitt Romney who got 22%. More info can be found here.

More US companies refuse to hire smokers
Posted By VOA News On February 18, 2010 (9:58 am) In World News

The World Health Organizations says smoking is considered a high risk factor in six of the eight leading causes of death worldwide.  Medical experts have long preached about how smokers can quit. Now a growing number of employers in the United States are refusing to hire them.  Some smokers are wondering what kind of discrimination is next.

More and more Americans who smoke are beginning to feel unliked and unwanted.  Federal laws prevent them from smoking in public buildings. They are not allowed to smoke within a certain distance of those buildings.
Since the federal law was passed a decade ago, many state and local communities have followed suit.

Now a growing number of companies and hospitals will not hire smokers, or worse, will fire them if they are caught lighting up.

Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee is now giving check-ups to prospective employees.  A urine test that detects nicotine means no job is offered.

Nurse Kristi Edmondson thinks her smoking habit is nobody’s business but her own. “Memorial should not dictate to us what we do in our own time, off the time clock,” she stated.

The head of the hospital’s parent company, Memorial Health Care Systems, is James Hobson. He defends the decision. “It’s relevant to creating that healthy lifestyle,” he said. “And again it’s relevant to the entire community.”

A growing number of large American companies are finding that health care costs for smokers are higher than for non-smokers.

A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that medical care and the loss of worker productivity averages about $3,000 annually for each smoker.

As a result, some companies now require smokers to pay a larger share of their health insurance than non-smokers.

While 29 of the 50 U.S. states have laws that protect the rights of smokers, 21 others do not.  Weyco an insurance benefits administrator in (the state of) Michigan, began imposing random smoking tests in 2005 on its own employees.

The President of the National Workrights Institute is Lewis Maltby. “Most people think they have a right to freedom of speech.  They don’t know that their freedom of speech disappears where their boss is concerned,” Maltby said.

The World Health Organization says at least five million tobacco users die every year from lung cancer, heart disease and other smoking-related causes. The WHO says if current trends continue, tobacco-related deaths will climb to at least eight million a year by 2030.

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