Domestic Nonlethal Assistance Repealed

by David T. Bruce

discretionary-spending-2011
Source: Mother Jones

As a society, we may have become numb to the reality that we have spent almost ten years in the Middle East, engaged in conflicts with Afghanistan and Iraq.  Now we find that we are compelled to join NATO in support of Libyan rebels.  To support our troops (an admirable incentive) and our habit, billions of dollars must be allocated for defense.

According to information provided by the National Journal, the Pentagon has requested $708.3 billion for this year, including $159.3 billion to continue our campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  During the first day of operation in Libya, the United States spent approximately $100 million.  Following the initial attacks on the forces of Colonel Gaddifi, we have recently pledged additional military assistance by sending armed drone aircraft into Libya.  This amounts to an additional $25 million of “nonlethal” [really?] military assistance.

At the same time, our representatives want to eliminate $1 trillion from the Medicaid program over the next ten years, or $84 billion a year.  This suggests that much of the money once used for healthcare in the United States is to be reallocated to support the habits of the Pentagon.

We have money enough to send “nonlethal” assistance to foreign countries, while we simultaneously propose cutbacks in what our representatives call “entitlements.”  The result of denying the disabled, elderly, and low-income citizens of America from having these “entitlements” is indeed lethal.  Apparently, saving lives of citizens in other countries is humane, while saving the lives of Americans at home is an entitlement.  Yes, we need to make changes to the Medicaid (and Medicare) programs, but perhaps the fault of the misuse or abuse is less of an indictment against the patients.

It is remarkable and yet interesting to journey down Constitution Avenue in Washington D. C.  Observe and take note of the buildings that line either side of the street: the Federal Trade Commission, the National Archives, the Department of Justice, the National Museum of Natural History, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Commerce, the National Aquarium, the Federal Reserve, the Albert Einstein Memorial, and . . . the American Pharmaceutical Association? . . . yes, the American Pharmaceutical Association.

Is it possible that the problem is not abuse of the system by the patients and more of an abuse of the system by providers and pharmaceutical companies?  Many incidents may be cited in which service was provided for no reason other than the bill was covered by Medicaid.  The cost of medication is on the rise, and I question whether or not pressure is being put on the pharmaceutical companies to keep their costs down.  Instead, patients are targeted.  At some point, voters must realize that our elected representatives lobby for large businesses when they should be lobbying for their constituents.

America – A Dream to Some, A Nightmare to Others

by David T. Bruce

dc-3My family and I just returned to our small village after spending four days visiting Washington D.C.  During our visit, we enjoyed the exhibits of a few Smithsonian museums, and we toured the obligatory streets and malls of the district in which resided the various presidential monuments and federal buildings, to include the Capitol and the White House.

Admittedly, I felt a sense of awe as we entered the District of Columbia via the George Washington Memorial Parkway and saw the Washington Monument behind a screen of haze and setting sun.

During our stay, I rekindled fond memories of the Apollo lunar program, satisfied the child within by exploring decades-old pop culture artifacts, and explored the history of the area that is our nation’s capital.

As a parent, I patted myself on the back for fostering the development of my children, introducing them to a history they had only skimmed in a text book or glimpsed in a Hollywood movie.  At the same time, as a citizen, I became more cynical as each day passed.

While the architecture is beautiful, the streets are clean and well cared for, and the transportation system is exceptional, I became increasingly sensitive to the disparity between what the District of Columbia represented versus what the reality of America is for the better share of the population of this country. While our family toured a region of America symbolic of freedom and democracy, our Representatives and Senators, perpetually embroiled in a debate over how to spend tax payer dollars, were gridlocked to the point in which the government is at risk of being shut down.

As I conclude this writing, the two disparate halves of our government have somehow come to a consensus that allowed for the budget to be passed and the federal government to continue doing business. Of highest concern, however, are those items that contributed to the heated debate: budget cuts that most affected elderly, disabled, and low-income Americans.  At the same time I and my family contribute tourist dollars to the District of Columbia economy, as our elected representatives and their families enjoyed the luxury of private schools, exceptional transportation, and an environment in which money is obviously no object, at least half of our nations representatives had the impudence to propose cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Planned Parenthood programs, directly affecting those who have little or no means to help themselves.

While the federal government proposes that funds be cut from the budget that, funds that support the elderly, disabled, and low-income citizens of America, and as the federal government proposes that states and the private industry (entities who are already in financial distress and have shown themselves to be incapable of providing adequate, affordable services) take over programs for the same, our government has exhibited little or no concern for these that have, as I say, no means to help themselves.  Those representatives that have raised their hand in support of such measure should be ashamed.

As an American and a father, I too feel shame, as I lead my children around a part of American they should be proud of.  Instead, these monuments and museums become mere shadows of what was and what could have been.  Today, there is to evident truth that all citizens are created equal.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are for those fortunate enough to be young, healthy, and God-fearing.  As a nation, we must come to grips with the reality that we will not survive as a nation divided.  At some point in time, we must all realize that “live and let live” means we must embrace our neighbors and offer a helping hand regardless of where they come from or where they are born.  Our government must begin to set the example by cutting the budget for everyone, by living within their means (as families do across the country), and by showing compassion for those who do not enjoy a fraction of the American dream that they do.  If America can spend in excess of $100 billion per year to take away lives in Afghanistan and Iraq, then perhaps they can spend at least that amount to help promote the health and welfare of America’s elderly, disabled, and low-income families.  The American dream is becoming a nightmare for many.

American Healthcare Debate Is Sickening

Good for you who have found a means to make the American dream work in your favor. Shame on you who would damn your neighbor for not having the same benefit. What do you care that someone else would prefer an affordable option for health care, which allows for preventative care and affordable prescriptions?

by David T. Bruce

dollar-1175293_1280It doesn’t seem to make sense that a government operation automatically has the advantage of putting a privately owned enterprise out of business.  If this were the case, then the U.S. Postal Service would not be struggling.  The post office struggles because consumers perceive that the postal service is not providing a service that is comparable to various competitors: UPS, DHL, the Internet, etc.  Similarly, a government run healthcare program does not automatically have an advantage over services provided by various privately owned insurance companies. If the government provides a better service at a better cost than privately owned companies, subsequently putting some privately owned companies out of business, so be it. Frankly, I am tired of watching our government bail out companies and CEOs who fail at their jobs.  It is about time that the government bails out citizens for a change.

Unlike those responsible for the financial collapse of the recent past, those citizens without health insurance are not looking for handouts.   The uninsured are not asking for funding to make amends for poor or reckless business practices.  The uninsured are asking for a health insurance option that is affordable and not a measurement of a person’s social status or a way to line the pockets of an insurance company’s board of directors.  How can a person earning minimum wage hope to afford the cost of insurance from a company that is focused on earning a profit?

Good for you who have found a means to make the American dream work in your favor.  Shame on you who would damn your neighbor for not having the same benefit.  What do you care that someone else would prefer an affordable option for health care, which allows for preventative care and affordable prescriptions?  Many Americans can no more afford private health insurance today than they could afford a new car or new clothes.  A person cannot find insurance policies on a Goodwill clothing rack.  For those that concern themselves with the fiscal ramifications of a government-owned healthcare program, I have news for you.  Medicaid is paid for by taxes, and over 20 percent of the country is already living with a government operated healthcare program.  We have socialized medicine.  Yes, the government already provides some health insurance coverage, and the government dictates who will provide health care.  Incidentally, some insurance company policies dictate the same.  Get over it, and let us move past that particular label that is designed to strike fear into the hearts of Americans everywhere.

Our nation as a whole can only benefit if the majority of the population is healthy.  If a health care system exists that excludes any Americans from even the most trifling of care because of socio-economic status, then that system is flawed.  Many of our nation’s leaders recognize that their constituents are of no use to themselves, their families, or their country if they do not receive regular medical care.  On the other hand, many of our nation’s leaders recognize that their bread is buttered by health insurance companies.  I suspect that many of the people who are currently offended by the possibility of government intervention in the health insurance industry had no problem accepting checks resulting from the government stimulus package two years ago or consenting to the government bailouts that prevented further deterioration of the United States economy.

In 2007 approximately 1 in 5 persons in the United States was enrolled in Medicaid, a government sponsored healthcare program.  We need to stop worrying about the labels associated with government assistance and begin concerning ourselves with why (according to the World Health Organization) we spend more for health care than any country in the world yet rank 37 out of 191 countries in health care performance.  Everyone deserves basic health care, and no one has the right to deny that care: not insurance companies and not those waiting for the next stimulus check.