Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Health care again

The idea that every American would save money if the government offered a public option for health insurance seems remarkably easy to understand. I question why so many people are having difficulty grasping the idea. Do people deliberately not want to understand because they are so partisan they don’t want to even consider an idea brought up by another party? Are the republicans so successfully muddying the waters with out and out lies that people are truly just confused? Perhaps the problem is that no one has laid out the idea in kindergarten terms so everyone can understand. I am going to attempt to do so now.
There are two ideas in health care reform. First, there is the single payer system that would be similar to every civilized nation in the world, the most often cited being Canada. This single payer system would save the citizens of the United States the most money by far but is not being proposed or even discussed by Obama, the Senate, or the House of Representatives. This option is completely off the table (except republicans keep bringing it up to confuse people and scare them). A single payer system will not happen in the U.S. anytime soon nor is it being proposed.
The only other idea that would truly reform health care and save United States citizens and businesses money is what is being called the “public option.” This is what Obama has been proposing for 2 years and what Congress has been debating. The public option would involve congress setting up a Medicare or V.A. style insurance that every American could purchase if they so choose to do so. It’s aim would be to provide insurance for those people who do not already have insurance. Everyone who already has insurance could keep what they have.
The question Americans have but are afraid to ask is: “If I already have insurance why would I want the government to have a public option.” My first response comes from my Christian belief system. If you care about the lives of other human beings then how could you possibly ask why they deserve to get medical treatment? If you describe yourself as “pro-life” how could you possibly be against allowing human beings to get medical care that they can pay for before their problem is critical? How could anyone who believes they are a moral person with a conscience want to deny other human beings access to life saving medical attention just because they are afraid something might change for themselves?
If the morality of the issue does not sway you then let’s look at what is in it for you…the American with health insurance. Currently we have a for profit system of health care. We buy insurance from a company that is attempting to make a profit. Currently health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies make huge profits. They make so much money that they can afford to buy ad time during primetime shows and even the superbowl. Their executives are millionaires and these companies spend money on yachts, private jets and billion dollar headquarters. They make this money off of the illness of Americans. They have unchecked ability to set costs for medical procedures and medication because they have no competition. We saw this become a real problem in 2001 when health care costs rose 75%. This outpaced all other inflation and therefore was simply the health care companies taking advantage of the perfect opportunity to raise costs; a republican president and congress combined with a terrorist attack. This unchecked power is costing you, the person with health insurance thousands of dollars per year. It has made health insurance out of reach for many small businesses and has caused other small businesses to become stagnate or even consider closing down. It has even affected big businesses and local governments by forcing them to lay off part of their work force so they can continue to afford the cost of health insurance for their employees. Health care costs played a huge role in the demise of the American automakers who simply couldn’t compete with foreign companies who did not have the enormous cost of supplying their employees with health care. To compete in the global market many companies have chosen to ship jobs to other countries where they don’t have to pay for benefits. Our current health care system has cost America jobs for many years now and it is starting to catch up with us. It has cost small business owners their ability to make a larger profit and it has caused millions of Americans to declare bankruptcy (medical costs are the number one reason for private bankruptcies in America).
Another way our current system is costing us, the insured American, is at the hospital. Most hospitals are non-profit. They are charging you, the consumer, what it costs them to keep paying their bills. They, however, can not turn sick people away. People who do not have insurance can not see a regular doctor at an office or choose not to see a doctor because of the cost until they are so sick they must see a doctor. For example, someone who sees an abnormal mole on their arm may chose to ignore that mole because they know how much it would cost to see someone and have it removed. They may wait until they are having serious stage 4 cancer symptoms before they go to the ER to be treated. By then a simple mole removal has turned into stage 4 cancer treatment at the expense of the hospital. The only way for the hospital to recoup that money is to charge you, the insured person, more for you broken arm. This system has also flooded emergency rooms with people with common illnesses that need to be seen but can not afford to pay a doctor or who can not get into a doctor because they lack insurance. This makes you, the insured person with a broken arm, wait much much longer in the waiting room of the ER. Finally this system is costing you more at the hospital because the insurance company has set prices for what they are willing to pay for each procedure. Hospitals must recoup the money it costs them to see you, and the uninsured people that visited when you were there, so they are forced to increase the number of procedures they perform in order to get more money from insurance companies so they can pay the doctors and hospital staff that saw you that day. The hospital must also pay a large number of staff people to file insurance claims, and argue with insurance companies. This cost must also be covered by what you pay when you break your arm. To summarize, when you break your arm you are waiting longer, paying the insurance company enough to give them an enormous profit, paying the hospital enough to pay the doctor, the nurse, the radiologist, the technical people, the insurance claim department, and enough to cover the lady sitting next to you who doesn’t have insurance and has a severe sinus infection that she has had for 5 months and has now spread to her brain.
Another reason you should care is that you may soon be one of the uninsured. An insurance company can cancel you coverage the minute they think you are going to start costing them more money than they can make from you. If you get heart disease or cancer you may find yourself uninsured just when you need that insurance most. Or perhaps you will experience what millions of Americans experienced this year. You may just lose your job and your health insurance right along with it. When that happened to me COBRA was going to be $1400 per month. Unemployment will not even cover my mortgage payment so health care is out of the question. Obama has reduced this cost with a program to force companies to pay a portion of COBRA for 18 months but with a mortgage and electric and gas bills and no job who can afford to pay for insurance. Once you find another job the new insurance company may not be willing to cover you and good luck finding private insurance if you have even the slightest problem that requires medication or a doctor visit. You may very well be one of THOSE people who doesn’t have health insurance and therefore can’t see a doctor in an office because they don’t see uninsured people. You may be one of those people who puts off seeing the doctor for all but the most devastating of symptoms because you can’t afford a $140 office visit and whatever tests or medications that might accompany that visit. You could be one of THEM. I bet then you would care a lot.
So what will a “public option” do to reduce all of these problems? What can a public option do for you? First, it will mean that every American can go see a doctor if they are sick. A sinus infection or a mole or a child’s severe headache will be dealt with by a doctor in an office in a reasonable time frame which will prevent future, more expensive procedures, tests, medications, and possibly even prevent death. Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure will be caught earlier and may be managed with diet, exercise or an inexpensive pill rather than surgeries, hospital stays, and expensive medications that must be taken for a lifetime. Overall our population would be healthier and therefore less expensive. The hospital ER could focus on emergency problems and could get out of the business of being a free clinic. Hospital costs will go down because the hospital no longer would need to cover the cost of all the uninsured people. Hospital costs would also go down because the public plan would be nonprofit and therefore would pay reasonable costs for procedures without the need to deny treatment in order to make money. Your chance of getting appropriate treatment would go up because the plan would pay for procedures you need to make you better rather than paying only for procedures that are cheap while denying treatment for anything that might cut into their profits. In order to compete with this public option insurance companies would have to start increasing services while reducing costs. This will cut into their excessive profits while costing you less out of your pocket.
The funniest scare tactic being put forward by republicans right now is that the public option is out to kill the old people. They claim this public option will deny procedures to old folks and therefore kill them. This is hilarious because anyone over 65 won’t be eligible for the public option. Everyone over 65 is already enrolled in a public option….it is called Medicare! If Medicare hasn’t been out to kill old folks all these years I’m not sure why it would be now. Medicare was created to solve the problem of retired people who lost their company health insurance and therefore could no longer pay for medical treatment at a time when they needed it the most. A public option for people who do not yet qualify for Medicare will only make Medicare better by increasing the government’s ability to reduce the overall cost of procedures and medication through competition and….dare I say, the open market. By streamlining the system and cutting out the waste of paying for the uninsured and the extra procedures that do not increase health the public option will improve Medicare.
The public option will help small business, big business and local governments who are struggling with health care costs. Several months ago I suffered through an hour long monologue by a very upset right wing small business owner who bemoaned the fate of America if we get a “socialist” health care system. I asked him, as a small business owner, how much he pays for health care for himself and his employees. He explained that he pays $6000 per month for himself and his top level employees who receive health care at work. His lower level employees have no health insurance. This man is losing $72,000 a year profit to the health care companies (not to mention the thousands of dollars he and his employees are paying in premiums, co-pays, out of pocket expenses and medication costs. The $72,000 is just what his company is paying. What if this small business owner could buy public health care for himself and each of his employees could do the same? He may be able to hire another employee and take on more business. He may be able to expand his business to another location and see even more profit. He may be able to give each of his employees a raise. His employees that currently don’t have health insurance may be healthier and more reliable. They may also be loyal to him and not look for a job that provides health insurance. Perhaps this small business owner doesn’t want to give up private insurance. He may see a sharp reduction in premiums due to the competition with the public option. His employees without insurance would still likely get the public option and be healthier. Also, under the current reform measures his private plan would not be able to drop him if he gets ill and would not be able to deny his new wife coverage because she has a pre-existing condition such as asthma. Frankly, I don’t see a down side for angry right wing small business owner.
What about big business and local governments who are struggling to pay employees and their benefits with much less money coming in. Companies who are doing fine will likely do nothing. Offering private health insurance to employees will continue to be a selling point when selecting the best candidates and therefore companies will continue to do so. Companies that are struggling to stay afloat may need to cut benefits to employees in order to keep employees. Ultimately, though, wouldn’t you rather keep your job and buy insurance from the public option than to lose your job and your health insurance? If Timken could have kept 700 jobs in May by simply cutting health insurance benefits (if there were a public option to buy) wouldn’t all of those 700 people still have jobs, still be purchasing stuff which would support the jobs of the car industry and the restaurants and the retail jobs, and still be paying income taxes which would keep the local government afloat? If GM could have cut benefits knowing that their employees could still have access to insurance perhaps they would not have had to go bankrupt. Perhaps more Americans would have been buying cars because more Americans would have had jobs. Paying for benefits is putting our businesses at a disadvantage internationally because this is an expense their competitors do not incur.
Local governments are cutting services to taxpayers due to decreased tax revenue and the increased cost of benefits. School districts find 33% or more of their costs paying for employee benefits rather than teacher salaries, materials and building maintenance. No one thinks these employees should not receive benefits but when school districts and cities must lay off half their staff and cut out services to the taxpayers in order to afford health care costs for the remaining employees then we have a serious problem. These health care reform critics don’t want their taxes paying for someone else’s health care. I have news for them. Much of what we pay in taxes helps to pay for health insurance for teachers, bus drivers, custodians, police, firefighters, military men and women, utility works, city workers, state officials, judges, IRS employees and other federal workers and your Senator and Congressman (who have a public option health insurance). Taxes have always paid for this health insurance but now that insurance rates and health care costs and prescription costs have gone up, a larger percentage of our tax dollars go to pay this cost while a lesser proportion of our tax dollars go to fixing roads, teaching kids and hiring police officers. A single payer system would bring the most benefit for our tax dollars but unfortunately that option is off the table. The second best system would be a public option that would automatically provide for all government workers. This could potentially save school districts, cities, and states millions of dollars and could increase the services they could provide. They could hire more teachers or pay them more (or even lower the amount we pay in taxes). I just read in the paper that they have decided to send kids to school later in the day in Massillon, OH, in order to save money because they can decrease the time the bus drivers are employed to part time and therefore not pay benefits. Is this really the best use of our tax dollars?
What about all those family values type people out there? How does this benefit them and their ideals? First, many families send both spouses to work simply to get health insurance. One spouse may have a job that does not provide insurance (such as my friend who is an IT consultant or my friend who owns his own clinic). These men can provide for their families and their wives would really like to be home with their young children rather than pay for childcare. Instead the wives must work in order to get health insurance. They don’t make enough to be the primary bread winner but they must put their kids in day care and go to work to get that precious insurance. How is it strengthening families to force families into a two working parent scenario when they do not wish to be in that situation? Finally, there is the pro-life issue. Babies in 39 other countries, including Morocco and Cuba, have a better chance of living through their first year than babies born in the US. This is directly tied to, not only pre-natal care (care after the woman is pregnant) but also to the health of the mother before she becomes pregnant. Time magazine did a cover story on this very topic last week that I suggest you read. Also, many women have abortions simply because they can not afford the costs associated with birth and care of a child. Affordable health care would help reduce the number of abortions in this country.
You’ve heard this a million times in the past 2 years. The United States pays more for health care than any industrialized nation yet we have poorer health outcomes, we have higher infant mortality and we are more likely to die earlier than people in 39 other countries. This is solely because we rely on for profit health care and for profit insurance companies to keep us healthy. Their interests are not in keeping us alive but are in making a profit. Actually, we are much cheaper to them if we die from cancer quickly than if we stay alive for 20 more years with the possibility of a cancer recurrence. Once we get sick we are worth more to them dead than alive. Insurance companies deny procedures and medications to Americans all the time because they cut into their profits. How many times have you been told that the medication your doctor prescribed will not be covered by your insurance company because of the cost. Republicans have been attempting to scare you for months about government coming between you and your doctor. There has been someone in between you and your doctor for years, an insurance company, and he is only out for making a profit, not for making you healthy. A non profit option would change the dynamics of that system. No longer would your care be based on the profit of your insurance company but instead on the best possible health outcome for you. A public option would be focused on keeping Americans as healthy as possible in order to reduce costs and avoid high priced procedures that result from emergency care. How do we, as Americans, lose in that situation?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Health Care in this country

OK, some might say I'm obsessed with the health care system in this country. They wouldn't necessarily be wrong. I get so frustrated with people. People like my mother. She complains and complains about all the same things I complain about and then she tells me that we shouldn't change health care in America. Her reasoning? We would have to wait for care. I have 3 things to say about that. First, why would we have to wait for care? She claims people in Canada have to wait for care. That may or may not be true. We, however, won't have the same system as Canada so it is irrelevant. Second, if the sicker people went first and the healthy people had to wait longer that would make sense to me. Right now we have a system where if you are healthy or sick it doesn't matter. What matters is that you have money and insurance. If you have money and insurance you are seen by someone eventually. If you are poor and have no health insurance you never get seen and you die of curable illnesses. To me, as a christian, but also as a caring individual, I think that is wrong. Third, I have health insurance and I still have to wait. I have to see certain doctors that are approved by my insurance company. Right now I have a rash on my face and I can't get in to see anyone. The insurance company only approves certain doctors and they aren't taking new patients until August or September. I'm one of the rich folks that has health insurance and I still can't be seen for a rash on my face! If I were in Canada I would go down to the local doctor's office and I may have to wait for awhile but they would look at my face and give me some cream that I would buy for $5. Now, if I do ever get in to see someone, I will pay $15 for the privilege and then they will charge me $100 for the same cream that I need to put on it to clear it up. Imagine if I were not insured but had a job. If I ever got in to see someone I would be charged $150 for the privilege and would be charged $200 for the cream. And if I were poor. Working minimum wage 60 hours a week but still making below the poverty line and with no insurance. I wouldn't ever get to see anyone for the rash on my face. I would have to live with it. IN AMERICA this is unbelievable!

My mom's friend just lost her health insurance at work. This is going to happen more and more to people who work full time but aren't in a union. They can yank your benefits whenever they want to people! She can't get new insurance because she is on medication that she has to take every day. She doesn't have a deadly disease, she doesn't have a disease that requires regular doctor visits or costly treatments. She has something that requires daily medication. She can't get health care! Here in America she can not see doctors because they don't see people who aren't insured. If she does get in with a doctor she will have to pay hundreds of dollars each time she is ill. The right wing would suggest that she must be lazy if she doesn't have health care. I actually had a guy at my daughter's gymnastics class a few weeks ago tell me that we should round up all the people who don't have health care and make them go to a separate hospital. He said the government should have hospitals to deal with those people who don't have health insurance. One would find this shocking except it is a normal belief of right wingers. Only lazy people who don't work don't have health insurance. They are less than human and therefore don't deserve proper medical attention. The people who work hard should be served first and THOSE people without insurance should get the minimum of care if any. Even my mother, by saying that our health care system shouldn't change to cover everyone because that would make us have to wait longer, is really saying that the rich should get the care and the poor should not.

I have a friend whose husband has changed jobs several times over the years. He is in a field that has high turnover. When a project is done he must look for a new job. Frequently he is self employed. They aren't poor. I don't know how much he makes but for a long time he made more than my husband did. They have been paying cobra as health insurance for many many years. $1200 a month. That is a mortgage payment. They have to pay this just to remain insured. They have 2 children. They are afraid to just let their insurance go because someone could get a catastrophic illness and they would be bankrupt. 80% of bankruptcies in this country are due to medical expenses. Every 30 seconds someone goes bankrupt in America due to medical bills. Thanks to the republican congress 6 years ago you can now lose your home if you owe medical bills. So instead my friends pays $1200 a month and then pay the copays and medical bills that I pay (because cobra is just your regular insurance so you still have to pay for health care as much as you did before). Should good, hardworking people get stuck paying $1200 a month just to insure themselves so they can get care when they are sick?

What about the family that works hard but doesn't make more than minimum wage per hour. What about the family of four where both parents work, one may work 2 jobs, but still barely make the rent and food payments. Millions of Americans work hard (longer hours than most middle class folks work) but can't afford more than the basic needs. Health care is out of reach for these people. These are the people you see in the emergency room at 11 pm with their children. Right wingers like to paint them as the lazy losers in the population. The people "living off of the rich". Really, many of these people work harder, work more hours, and are more committed than those who have insurance. Then there are the people who have major medical problems and can no longer work and are forced to "live off of our tax dollars." Many of those illnesses are caused by their poverty and their lack of medical care either as a child or as an adult. This could have been prevented by providing health insurance or health care to all Americans. They would then be able to work and would not be forced to live off of the system. They are victims of our system yet are seen as lazy loafers who just want to live off of all the hardworking Americans in our country. Not all of the people who live off the system are hard workers. There are certainly people out there who take advantage. However, the majority of people in our country and in our world want better lives and are willing to work to get a better life. They don't want to be poor,they don't want to be sick and they don't want a hand out. Their circumstances have put them where they are. Our health care system is helping to keep them where they are. It is time to change that.

The oddest twist to this issue is the people who vote against democrats and don't want health care for everyone but who are actually voting against their own most important issues. For example, pro-lifers vote against democrats and therefore health care for everyone. Health care for everyone, however, would significantly reduce the number of abortions in this country. Ironic. If everyone had access to birth control there would be less unwanted pregnancies and less abortions. If women had access to free prenatal care, free hospital visits for the birth and free medical care for their children there would be fewer abortions. Many women have abortions because they know they won't be able to pay for the birth and the medical care of the child after the birth. A massive portion of family debt in this country is health care costs. Women who have other children may choose not to abort if they weren't so far in debt with their current health care bills.

The most misguided group of people in this country are the small business men. They consistently are talked into voting against themselves and are frequently irrationally angry about the democratic viewpoint. Maybe they are so angry because they realize subconsciously they are voting against their own best interests. It may just be the personality of small business owners (although I do know some very nice rational small business owners). It just seems I've had the worst experience with the republican small business owners who consistently vote against their own best interests. I mentioned the crazy loud guy at my daughter's gymnastics. (He is one of those guys who believes if you are loud then you must be right). He said that he owns a company that makes electrical systems for cars. He is the guy who wants to round up all the poor lazy folks without health insurance and make them go to one hospital. So I asked him how much he pays for health care. He pays $5000 a month for health insurance for himself and his top employees (I assume the other peons in the company don't get health insurance...they are replaceable right?) He doesn't want Obama to make health insurance available to everyone because that would be socialist. He doesn't want Obama to force insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing conditions because that would be socialist. I will address the socialist craziness in a moment. First, lets look at loud guy's bottom line. If health care were affordable to people who are self employed and available to people individually rather than through work this guy would save his business $5000 a month. His employees could find insurance on their own and his employees that currently don't have insurance would be healthier. Those same employees would have more money to possibly go buy something like a CAR that would ultimately help his business. As it is now this guy may not even have a business much longer because of what his party, that he so rabidly (and loudly) defends, did to the economy, and therefore the car sales in this country. This guy is totally voting against his own best interest but he is so worked up because Rush calls Obama's plan socialism that he hasn't stopped to read the plan or think about what socialism is. The funniest part of this story is that this guy suggested I read the socialist health care plan because I must not know what it says. It is obvious he hasn't read anything because the plan isn't anything like the plans of other countries that are more socialized. Obama's plan still goes through the insurance industry.

Socialism is an economic theory of government. It involves government owning all business and passing out the money from those businesses to the people so that everyone is equal. The equality part is what is throwing off the right wingers with the health care system. They are thinking that since all people will have equal access to being healthy then in must be a socialist plot. (actually, the leaders of the party such as Rush know this isn't true but if they say "socialism" to their sheeple followers then their followers will believe and repeat). Equal access to being healthy appears to puzzle people who thrive on the idea that they are the haves and they need to keep the have nots sick and poor. Ironically these are also the people who claim to be the most christian. Apparently they believe that Jesus would have liked the idea that the rich folk get medical care and the poor folk live under a bridge so they can afford their heart medication. I digress. The system of health care in most countries might be considered socialized in that everyone has access to it and the government pays for it (although they pay for it through taxes not by selling goods). However, it involves the health and lives of the citizens not their economic status so these countries are not socialist countries. They are capitalists with health care for everyone. Obama isn't even proposing this type of plan. If loud conservative dude had actually read the plan he would know that Obama's plan continues to work through the insurance companies. He is proposing regulating the system so that everyone can afford to buy health care from an insurance company if they want it. It would not even be required. If you have health care nothing would change for you! If you lost your insurance at work or lost your job or work for a business that doesn't provide insurance you would now be able to purchase health insurance from a company. You would not be able to be excluded just because you are sick. This is not a socialist system at all. The only socialist type event that has occurred recently is when George W. Bush decided to start buying banks. Again I digress.

The most important part of this entire issue is the way the christian right has lobbied against health care for everyone. As mentioned above, I have difficulty believing that Jesus would have been against access to medical care for everyone. I really have a problem with Christians who claim that republicans are the more christian party and overlook this issue completely. I believe that Jesus wants Christians to fight for the poor. I believe he wants us to fight for the sick. I believe Jesus wants us to fight for equality for everyone when it comes to health care. More babies die in this country per capita than in 39 other countries. That is because people may care a lot about fetuses but those same people vote against providing the mothers who choose not to abort with prenatal care! How can people vote for someone because they believe women should CHOOSE life but then vote against providing prenatal care, vaccinations, and health care for those same babies after they are born? How can people claim to be "for the troops" and then vote against increasing money to care for their health when they return? How can people brag about their superior christian beliefs but then vote against providing health care for every person in our country regardless of their economic status? People die from curable illnesses because they can't afford to see a doctor (or can't find one to see them) and that is OK with some Christians as long as they don't have to wait longer for care themselves. How can Christians say that poor people deserve to be sick because they are too lazy to get good paying jobs? It is time to make health care a christian issue in America. It is time for Christians to stand up and say that every person deserves the same chance to live healthy. Jesus walked among the lepers and made them healthy. Jesus knew that lepers are people. Lepers are not sick through any fault of their own and God loves them. God still loves the poor and we, as Christians, should follow his lead.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Frank Schaeffer's letter to the Republicans

If you've read my blog at all you know that I believe the religious right is responsible for ruining the Christian religion (and will ultimately be the cause of it's downfall in America), ruining the Republican party and ruining our country. I just love it when I find articles by former religious right republicans who have seen the light and the error of their ways. This is a particularly good one.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wake up America!!

I'm so tired of listening to conservatives spout off republican talking points without thinking about them first. I can't take it anymore. OK, so that sounds melodramatic. Really, though, these are intelligent people who obviously have not actually thought about what is best for the country or themselves but they listen to conservatives tell them what to think and then they repeat it to whomever will listen. I just want to smack them and say, "THINK FOR YOURSELF!" Rush, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich and all the other talking heads don't care about you. You are middle class. When they are talking about what is best for America they are not talking about YOU! Let me be more specific.

My current pet peeve is this "socialist" or "communist" talking point and the no taxes talking point. I must point out that taxes are a necessary part of our society. Our forefathers fought against taxation without representation which is why we have to vote on tax levies and bonds and why we send representatives and senators to congress to vote on our behalf. Taxes pay for most of what your family has done today. They pay for your child's school, books, teachers, buses and probably their sports programs. They pay for the bridges you drive on and the roads you drive on and all the signs and stop lights and the planning that went into creating those. Taxes pay for the police officers and all of their equipment and programs and cars and the firemen and all of their trucks and equipment. Taxes pay for 911. Taxes pay for our judges and elected officials and all of their staff. Taxes pay for the EPA, the FDA, homeland security and FEMA and every other federal agency that makes sure you have clean drinking water, safe toys and cribs and cars. Taxes pay our for our military. They pay for our tanks and planes, they pay for every bullet. They pay the salaries of the men and women who fight for us and they pay for their care when they return wounded. Taxes pay for veteran's benefits when they retire. Taxes pay for your mother's stay in the nursing home and her medication and visits to the doctor. Taxes pay for services for children who are born disabled so they can get a wheelchair or visit the doctor or learn how to take care of themselves when they are grown up. We need taxes to function as a country. So if you think you shouldn't be paying any taxes at all you already have a serious problem in my opinion.

Now, I do agree that we don't want to pay more taxes than we have to pay. This could be the point that we argue about. Too many conservatives, however, don't want to pay any taxes at all and I'm tired of hearing from you people. Now, for the past 8 years republicans have cut taxes for people making more than $250,000 per year. No, that is not you!!! When Rush and Sean and Newt say that "we" are going to pay more taxes under Obama they mean themselves. The people who make over $250,000 per year. Not you!! Everyone who calls the radio or who talks to me on the street thinks they were getting a tax cut from the republicans and that they are going to lose this cut under the democrats. I think it is safe to say that if you are talking to me about taxes or you are calling a radio show you are not the person who was getting the tax cuts! Stop believing these talking heads that are telling you that repealing this tax cut is going to effect you. It is not going to effect you because you aren't making enough money! Nor will you be. Only the top 1% of our population is effected. They are running the company you work for or running the company your company is servicing. It isn't you. And, if by chance it is you, then shame on you for bitching about paying your fair share of taxes for the fist time in 8 years. We have a deficit higher than all the deficits that we have ever had added all together. WE have this deficit because the republicans spent more money than the Clinton administration but collected less taxes. (Clinton left office with a SURPLUS after inheriting a huge deficit from Reagan/Bush). If you have less income as a government you can't spend more or you get a deficit. Simple math!!! If you have less income personally but you spend 100x more than you are spending now then you will have a deficit as well. They call democrats tax and spend liberals but the republicans have become don't tax but keep spending "conservatives." How are you going to run the government with no tax income? 95% of Americans will get a tax cut under Obama's plan (those making under $250,000) and 97% of businesses are getting a tax cut. That must be made up by repealing the tax cut for the rich people. They have money and are doing fine in the recession. They have the money to pay taxes and they are simply going back to paying the taxes they were paying in the 90's. Chances are that under this plan you will be paying less tax or the same tax you are paying now. Wake up and think for yourself!!

Next, I must address this trickle down theory that was put forth in the 80's and has never ever worked. The theory is that you cut taxes for the rich folks and then they save so much money that they hire people to work for them which creates jobs. If you have paid attention at all we have discovered in the past 30 years that it does not work. Cutting taxes for rich people just makes rich people richer. They don't hire more people, they move their business overseas and hire people to work for 25 cents an hour and they keep all that extra cash for themselves. Crazy conservatives call Stephanie Miller every day and complain about the CEO's who are making 60 million dollars a year and flying private jets and collecting bonuses while they fire Americans because their company is going under. Those people are making so much because of laws and tax cuts created by conservatives!! I know Rush blames liberals but he is lying. It is conservatives that have made the wealthy become more wealthy by giving them tax cuts and loopholes to hide their money and by actually giving them money to move their companies overseas. If you think it is the liberals then you are the victim of the biggest snow job of our lifetime. The current conservative party built on the idea that you make the wealthiest people more wealthy in order to help our economy and you are voting for it if you are voting for a republican. Wake up! Look at the "stimulus" that George Bush tried. He gave each of us $500 2X in his presidency. We all paid it toward our huge credit card debt and continued on with our lives. That didn't stimulate anything but it did fool people who aren't paying attention into believing they are getting a tax break. In the meantime your medical bills went up 70% in 2001, you started paying 3X more for gas and the republicans made it possible for you to lose your house if you can't pay your medical bills. So rather than gaining $500 twice you really lost thousands of dollars to the big rich oil, insurance, pharmaceutical companies. These companies all paid huge bonuses to their CEO's (who already make tens of millions per year) and they cut back middle class jobs. They did so well under Bush that they paid for his inauguration the second time (as well as is re-election). What other stimulus did Bush offer? He gave money to help the oil companies in every single budget. They made record profits and got government money because they needed "help." He also handed out cash to big businesses including AIG and the car companies. Somehow the conservatives have turned this around as if it were Obama handing out money to business. It was BUSH. Once Bush started that plan Obama has had to carry it out. He inherited this mess and he has to continue with the plan to bail out banks until he can implement his plan.

What is Obama's plan? The conservative talking heads have done a great job of getting out misinformation and of talking the sheep that listen to them into believing it is a bad idea. In reality, Obama does not want to just pass out money to companies and trust that they will do the right thing. He doesn't want to just pass out money to people and hope they will go buy a new TV (which is what Bush did). These conservatives keep saying that he is just passing out money to poor people and that is socialist. They keep saying he is passing out money to companies and that is communist. In reality it was Bush that passed out money to people, not Obama. Obama's plan doesn't pass out money to anyone (except the addition that the REPUBLICANS added). Obama's plan says that if you are going to get money from the government then you have to work. He is putting money into jobs. The government will hire companies (thus helping all of those businesses that are hurting and forcing them to hire employees) to work on America's infrastructure. These jobs can't be shipped to other countries, they will have to hire Americans. These people will work to repair bridges, start green technology, and build the medical records technology in America (among other things). All of those people who get hired to work will then have money. They will spend that money to buy things that other companies make. They will buy a car from Ford and a sofa from Macy's and food from a local restaurant. This will help Ford and Macy's and the restaurant afford to hire people and those people will have money to buy stuff like cars and clothes and furniture. In the meantime our roads and bridges and levies will be safer and updated, our country will move into the 21st century with green technology and people will be able to afford to buy stuff. All of these conservatives pretend like they don't know how this job creation bill will stimulate the economy and people believe them. I promise that my 11 year old daughter could understand this simple job creation plan and you could too if you would just pay attention!!

I must talk about health care here too. I absolutely do not understand people who do not want health care for everyone. OK, so some people don't care that we are 39th in the world for health care here in America. Some people don't care that newborn babies are more likely to die here than they are in 40 other countries around the world. Some people don't care that people in America die every single day of curable illnesses because they don't have access to health care because we are THE ONLY industrialized nation that has a for profit health care system. Perhaps people don't care about all of THOSE people. As a christian I frankly can't grasp how people don't care but they don't so I won't use compassion and empathy and just plain doing what is right as a reason for health care for everyone. What about money as an argument? Now there is an argument conservatives can sink their teeth into. Why are car companies having trouble competing with Japanese and European car companies? Is it really labor unions as the conservatives claim? No. Japanese and Europeans pay their people just as well. The average union worker makes $12 an hour to start and $25 an hour by the end of their life. Those inflated numbers you hear on Rush are including the benefits and health care of the workers!! It is the millions of dollars of health care costs that make it impossible for car companies to compete. They have to pay health care for all of their people whereas the other companies don't have these costs. Why do companies open factories in Canada rather than the US? Health care costs. Why do companies move factories overseas? Health care costs. Why do small businesses have trouble making ends meet? Health care costs. If you own your own business how much are you paying for health insurance for your family? How much are you paying per year for health care for your employees and their families? If you don't offer health care for your employees then how much are they paying out of their salary to get health insurance or to pay the enormous medical bills for their families? We work for a big company and have great health insurance. I have asthma but other than that we have no major illnesses in our family. We paid $9,000 for health care last year. That is $9,000 out of our pocket after insurance paid their share! We just moved and I called a pediatrician's office to make an appointment. The first question they ask is, "Do you have insurance?" If not my kids wouldn't be seen. We would have to wait until they got really really sick and then we would have to take them to the ER and pay huge sums of money to try to heal them. This is unacceptable in America and it is bringing down America's businesses and America's families. Each time you vote for a conservative you are voting for this. Wake up America!!

I know, Rush starts screaming socialist whenever we talk about health care for everyone and the conservatives get all nervous that socialism is coming to America. What exactly what does that mean? If every person in America can see a doctor when they are sick is that socialism? Does that mean our entire financial system will be socialist? Every other industrialized nation in the world offers health care to whomever needs it. Are they all socialist nations? Is England scary? I can just hear the music sting in the background when Rush says socialism. It wasn't until Nixon that we started thinking that companies should make millions of dollars off the illnesses of the American people. England started national health care while fighting the Nazis yet Rush and other conservatives are now saying that national health care would make us Nazis. This name calling doesn't have any validity yet it scares conservatives into spouting the party line of no health care in America. Stop being scared by this BS. If we are a so called "Christian Nation" and we all are Christians then how can we say that only rich people and upper middle class people should have access to health care? Obama's health care proposal doesn't even make health care free to everyone. His plan only makes it possible for everyone to buy health insurance. How could that possibly be seen as socialist? Everyone would still be paying for health insurance and paying for health care. The insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies and doctors will still be making millions a year off our sick population. I wish his plan were more like that of England, France and yes even Canada. Unfortunately Obama's plan is still a for profit health care system that at least provides an opportunity for people to see a doctor but still, ultimately, provides money for big business. Another good thing about the system, however, is that I believe eventually people will buy cheaper health insurance on their own and companies won't go bankrupt trying to provide health insurance for employees. Ultimately small business will benefit the most (yet small business owners everywhere don't realize they would benefit because they listen to the talking points instead of using common sense).

I've already talked at length in other posts about my aversion to the "Bush kept us safe" argument but I must briefly reiterate my opposition to this crazy talk. On April 9th, 2004, Condoleezza Rice, acting as the national security advisor, testified before the 9/11 Commission. She admitted that President Bush had received a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack inside the United States" as early as August 6, 2001. She said that the president did not act on this information although the memo mentioned the possibility of terrorist sleeper cells in the United States. This report also suggested that the terrorists may be interested in flying airplanes into US buildings including the Twin Towers. President Clinton and his staff also stated that they attempted to brief Bush and his staff about the dangers of Osama Bin Laden but Bush would spend those briefing attempting to get information about Saddam Hussein and would ignore information about Bin Laden. Clinton's staff became very frustrated with Bush and his staff and their disregard for what they saw as the largest threat to national security. Clinton had spent years tracking Bin Laden and attempting to kill or capture him and tried to express his concerns to Bush as the transition took place. Bush ignored him as he continued to focus on Saddam Hussien.

Bush oversaw the worst terrorist attack in US history. On September 11th over 3000 American citizens were killed because he refused to pay attention to security memos and briefings. Bush did not keep us safe from terrorists while he was President. Bush oversaw the largest national security failure of our generation. Rather than be embarrassed by this failure the Republicans have chosen to tout this failure as a wonderful thing that Bush did to save our country. Bush then diverted the forces away from capturing those involved in Sept. 11th and send them to Iraq to go after an old, benign dictator who hated Al Queda and who had not had any power since the Iraq war. By doing so, Bush created a terrorist haven in a country that had no terrorists, and he emboldened Iran and Syria. Bush also successfully helped to destabilize Pakistan (who has nuclear weapons), left Afghanistan so early that it destabilized, and pushed for elections in Palestine which resulted in the democratic election of Hamas. Bush did not attempt any peace negotiations until his final year therefore helping to cause the Israeli/Palestinian conflict several years ago. During Bush's term in office terrorism around the world increased. No, there were not any other attacks within our country during those 7 years but that doesn't mean we were safer nor does it mean that we should overlook the tremendous failure that resulted in 9/11. The world is much less safe thanks to Bush's foreign policy decisions. Wake up America!

Finally, I must question the thought process of those people who say that democrats are going to take away our rights. To what rights are you referring? Democrats are all about giving rights to everyone and making sure everyone gets a fair shake in this world. Just think about the ACLU that conservatives love to complain about. They were the ones that got Christians the rights they have in our country and they are trying to help other religious groups get the same rights. Democrats are saying that homosexual people should have the same rights as heterosexual people. Republicans are the ones trying to make government in charge of moral decisions and your personal rights. Republicans are supposed to be against big government yet they want the government to decide who can get married. They want the government to force women to have babies. They want the government to be involved in decisions to turn off life support when our loved ones are kept alive by machines. They want government to make moral decisions and tell us what our kids can learn about birth control and how to protect themselves from diseases. Republicans are for government control of our moral and personal decisions which means more government not less in our lives. I really want to know one right that democrats are trying to take from the American people. Just because the republican talking heads say that democrats are taking away your rights doesn't make it true. People say these things without really thinking through what they mean or whether it is a fact. I need Americans to wake up from their daze and their zombie like following of Fox news talking points and use their brains to make decisions. See these "facts" as what they are. They are lies. No child left behind teaches kids to memorize facts for a test and not think for themselves. This fits in exactly with the Republican ideology. Pay no attention to the truth of what is happening in America. Simply listen to what we say is going on and then go repeat it to the world. If we say it enough it won't have to be true, it will become "fact".

The fact is that we need taxes to function as a country. The fact is that if you make less than $250,000 a year you will pay the same tax or less tax than you did before. The fact is that investing government money to build infrastructure is not a communist or socialist program. It is actually a lot like FDR's new deal. The fact is that you are more likely to die in this country of a curable illness than you are in 39 other countries. The fact is that Obama's health care plan is far from socialist and just makes health insurance premiums affordable and available to all Americans. The fact is that Republicans would like the government to become bigger and more involved in your personal decisions and personal lives while the democrats would like you to be in charge of your own life and let government focus on governing. The fact is that we are not as safe as we were 8 years ago and that is a direct result of the decisions made by George W. Bush and his cronies. The fact is that many Americans don't know these facts because they listen to people who lie to them all day so they will follow an ideology that keeps them poor, dependent on government and hate filled.

Please wake up! Read the stimulus plan for yourself and see what it really does. Read Obama's health care plan for yourself and see that it will benefit big business, small business, and regular Americans equally. Read the national security reports and see that all 21 intelligence agencies have agreed for years that we are less safe because of our decisions. Don't just listen to me. Go and read and think for yourself. The information is out there if people would care to stop listening to the talking heads and getting frightened by words like "socialism" and "Nazis." I have a bumper sticker that says "Nov. 4th, 2008, Hope won over fear." Don't let words and lies scare you into not thinking. Let the truth help you wake up.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Religious right should put politics aside

Once again I found a writer who wrote exactly what I was thinking but better than I could say it.

Cal Thomas commentary: Religious right should put politics aside
Saturday, November 8, 2008 3:21 AM
By Cal Thomas

When Barack Obama takes office in 2009, he will do so in the 30th anniversary year of the founding of the so-called religious right. Born in 1979 and midwifed by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, it was a reincarnation of previous religious-social movements that sought moral improvement through legislation and court rulings. Those movements, from abolition (successful) to Prohibition (unsuccessful), had mixed results.
Social movements that relied mainly on political power to enforce a conservative moral code weren't anywhere near as successful as those that focus on changing hearts.
Thirty years of trying to use government to stop abortion, preserve opposite-sex marriage, improve television and movie content and transform culture into the conservative evangelical image has failed. So, should conservative Christians redouble their efforts, contributing more millions to radio and TV preachers and activists, or would they be wise to try something else?
I opt for something else.
Too many conservative evangelicals have put too much faith in the power of government to transform culture. The futility inherent in such misplaced faith can be demonstrated by asking these activists a simple question: Does the secular left, when it holds power, persuade conservatives to live by their standards? Of course they do not. Why, then, would conservative evangelicals expect people who do not share their worldview and view of God to accept their beliefs when they control government?
Too many conservative evangelicals mistake political power for influence. Politicians who struggle with imposing a moral code on themselves are unlikely to succeed in their attempts to impose it on others. What is the answer, then, for conservative evangelicals who are rightly concerned about the corrosion of culture, the indifference to the value of human life and the living arrangements of same- and opposite-sex couples?
The answer depends on the response to another question: Do conservative evangelicals want to feel good, or do they want to adopt a strategy that actually produces results? Clearly partisan politics have not achieved their objectives. Do they think they can succeed by committing themselves to more of the same?
If results are what conservative evangelicals want, they already have a model. It is contained in the life and commands of Jesus. Suppose millions of conservative evangelicals engaged in an old and proven type of radical behavior. Suppose they followed the admonition of Jesus to "love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison and care for widows and orphans," not as ends, as so many liberals do by using government, but as a means of demonstrating God's love for the whole person in order that people might seek him?
Such a strategy could be more transformational than electing a new president, even the first president of color. But to succeed, such a strategy would not be led by charismatic figures, who would raise lots of money, be interviewed on Sunday talk shows, write books and make gobs of money.
Scripture teaches that God's power (if that is what conservative evangelicals want and not their puny attempts at grabbing earthly power) is made perfect in weakness. He speaks of the tiny mustard seed, the seemingly worthless widow's mite, of taking the last place at the table and the humbling of oneself, the washing of feet and similar acts and attitudes; the still, small voice. How did conservative evangelicals miss this and instead settle for a lesser power, which in reality is no power at all? When did they settle for an inferior kingdom?
Evangelicals can take the path that will lead them to more futility and ineffective attempts to reform culture through government, or they can embrace the far more powerful methods outlined by the one they claim to follow. By following his example, they will decrease, but he will increase. They will get no credit, but they will see results. If conservative evangelicals choose obscurity and seek to glorify God, they will get much of what they hope for but can never achieve in and through politics.
Cal Thomas writes for Tribune Media Services.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Comment on today's Christianity

My husband sent me a link to an article in PC USA magazine by Charles March entitled "What it means to be a Christian after George W. Bush." You can link to the article below. You may have noticed I haven't been writing my own stuff on my blog lately. That is because people like this can write what I'm thinking so much better than I can. Finally Christians in America are coming to their senses and realizing that they are Christian first and Americans second. Finally Christians in America are realizing that following the teaching of Jesus should trump party loyalty and national pride. Finally Christians in America are speaking up and taking back their faith from those who have twisted it into something violent and vengeful and sick.

The following is one paragraph in this remarkable article. It highlights that Christians frequently have become misguided in history. Christians have used the Bible to support ideas and beliefs that are actually not supported by the true meaning of the Bible.

March wrote:
"I came of age in the American South in the 1960s, and the moral values shared by most families in the churches of my childhood were deeply interwoven with our culture’s hold on white supremacy. The vigilant and quite often neurotic defense we made of the Southern Way of Life blinded us not only to the sufferings of African-Americans — the victims of our collective self-righteousness — but also to our spiritual arrogance and group pride. We believed that our conception of Christianity and our cherished family values were the most wholesome and pure the world had ever known. Inside this serene delusion, we presumed ourselves to be paragons of virtue, although we rarely lifted a finger to help anyone but our own."

How insightful! This is the perfect example of how our own beliefs and values can be supported by verses in the Bible and by the church when infact they are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. When we overlook the true meaning of the Bible and simply try to support our own agenda and belief system we will certainly find evidence to back it up but we will lose the true meaning of the word in the long run. Christians have advocated this war for 6 years now stating that we are spiritually better than them. Christians have believed that we are better because we have democracy or we have Jesus or we have values or we have "freedom" and therefore we have virtue. In reality we have no virtue when we worship our country and our flag and our President and ignore our God and His words to us. It truely is the great delusion of our time. Read more by following the link below!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Truth about the War in Iraq

Finally the press has put all of the information about how the United States ended up in a war with Iraq into one news story. The lies and misinformation have always been out there individually but no one has ever been able to put them together so that people can really grasp the breadth of the deception that was perpetrated upon the American people. Apparently it took the foreign press, Canada, to put it all together for us. The American press, although they have apologized for helping to spread the lies that led up to the war, continue to be too afraid of the administration to compile all of the information and let their viewers watch it. It is no wonder that the world is baffled by our complacency.