Thursday, January 14, 2010

Speaking of Evil: Something Uplifting

If you're like me, you grew up hearing about five names significant to WWII: Hitler, Mussolini, FDR, Stalin, and a little Dutch Jewish girl named Anne Frank. While nobody reads Mein Kampf anymore (it's virtually unreadable, anyway), and FDR's fireside chats aren't widely, or even narrowly, read, Anne Frank's diary is required reading for school children all over the country, perhaps the world.

Before young Anne was taken off to one of the many prisons within that wicked archipelago of concentration camps and gulags that dotted Europe in the 30's and 40's, she was secreted away by a few brave souls, one of whom was Miep Gies (pronounced "Meep Khees"). (Hiding people in WWII always reminds me of a joke about a diminutive Eastern European, the punchline of which is "can you cache a small Czech.") Miep died on Monday of this week, at the ripe old age of 100. The obituary is here.

Some tidbits about Ms. Gies: She never read the diary prior to giving it to Otto Frank, Anne's father, out of respect for Anne's privacy. It turns out this concern, while admirable, may have been misplaced as the diary would have "incriminated" a number of those helping Anne and other Jews.

I love this quote from Gies, which she apparently wrote to the AP via email shortly before her 100th birthday, wherein she resists accolades: "Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary." Bravery and humility are anything but ordinary.

People in this space may come down differently on the means to reduce the number of abortions in this country. But I think we can all agree that people like Miep Gies, and the countless other brave souls who nobody's ever heard of, who resisted Nazi and Soviet tyranny are to be admired and emulated.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Some thoughts on the pending healtchare legislation

I’ve been absent from this space for sometime, and hope you’ll extend forgiveness on the off chance that you log on daily looking for my witty pixels to appear on screen. I’d like to offer a few thoughts on the current healthcare debate, and the bills current matriculating through Congress, possibly toward becoming law.

The Senate Bill, as most of you know, is the one that is most likely to become law, and is considered the more “moderate.” I’m not exactly sure what a moderate healthcare bill is; it sounds like it would only provide a moderate amount healthcare, which doesn’t sound like a good selling point.

Under that bill you and I will be required by law to purchase health insurance. There are a few exceptions. For instance, if a person is indigent you and I will be required to purchase his health insurance as well. If one is an illegal alien (that is, an undocumented member of a Democratic constituency) you and I will still be required to subsidize emergency room care for him as well (including care for things that can’t be considered emergencies). While conservatives and libertarians have long lamented the creation and bloated nature of so-called entitlement programs, this new bill goes far beyond a Western European style welfare state founded on the misguided world vision of Rousseau. Instead, this bill is fascism in essence tinctured by democracy.

Communism, of course, involves the state owning all property and dictating means and amount of production, as well as prices. At one time the USSR was setting 24 million prices on products throughout Stalin’s tundra. But Fascism, economically speaking, focuses on dictating (no pun intended) production standards while permitting private ownership. I don’t generally engage in hyperbole, but in case you recoil at the idea of the term "fascism" being slung at this bill, let me explain.

The government, by decree of a single political party, is making a law that says you and I have to purchase a product offered by a heavily regulated by the government, and therefore the party. The coverage offered by carriers will be limited to plans deemed to be acceptable by the government, and therefore the party. The carriers will only be permitted to make a certain amount of money, and you and I will be required to purchase coverage that enables those carriers to make what profit the government and party has decreed an acceptable return on their capital.

This is the product of a wicked world view that sees all people as inherently good: all people, that is, except for producers. The people with this vision toss around terms like “rights,” and say that people have a right to whatever good thing the government/party wants to bestow. In this case, we are told that people have the right to affordable healthcare. No one bothers asking where this right came from. Moreover, nobody has bothered to ask why I have a duty to ensure that a nonproducer enjoys this right.

But such is the nature of entitlement programs. Producers pay money to the government under the threat of imprisonment to provide for nonproducers. (Keep in mind, one can make good arguments for this type of distribution, but those arguments always involve taking from producers and giving to nonproducers.)

The far more troubling aspect of this legislation is it forces the producer to transfer money, not to the government, but to a private company that sells insurance. It will be the law. You will have to pay money to a company whether you want its product or not, and the government will make you do that because 220 years ago a document was ratified by the several states that entitled a fledgling government to regulate interstate commerce. Once the government, under the auspices of conveying to you the right to healthcare, can force you to pay money to a private company, then it can force you to pay money to ACORN to ensure everyone’s ability to exercise suffrage.