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Free Market Healthcare?

Hi Everybody,

As long as the future of Obamacare is still undecided, we still have time to discuss alternatives. The debate thus far appears to center on how much government subsidies should be included in the final package. Today we look again at how much government involvement is necessary (rather than how much can we afford) to achieve our national goals. With a $20 trillion national debt, a “government lite” approach seems to be in order.

So, let’s look again at what a truly free market healthcare system might really look like — without the hang-ups of past assumptions.

(This column is edited from a version originally published on January 6, 2017. Unfortunately, we haven’t progressed very far since then. )

As always, comments welcome. Thank you for your support.

Larry Fedewa

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What a free-market health care system could look like

By Lawrence J. Fedewa – – Friday, January 6, 2017

As long as we are repealing and replacing Obamacare, the starting point should be setting our goals. American health care should be:

1, High quality, state-of-the-art
2. Available to all — which means
• Affordable
• Abundant
• Well-funded

What are the principal obstacles to these goals?

a. The first and most obvious obstacle is the shortage of medical personnel. This shortage has two facets: not enough medical professionals are produced in the first place, and of those who do enter practice too many drop out before their time. There are whole areas of inner cities and rural America, for example, which have no physicians at all. Why? Because our medical schools do not graduate enough doctors to serve the population of the United States. Why not? Lack of intelligent students? Lack of students who are motivated to give their lives in service to their fellow man? Not at all.

The reason is lack of money

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President pulls right, Pope Francis pulls left

 

FILE – In this May 24, 2017, file photo. U.S. President Donald Trump stands with Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican. Some evangelical supporters of Trump are seeking a meeting with Pope Francis over a recent critical article

Is Pope Francis I attacking American Christians? Steve Bannon targeted with ‘apocalyptic geopolitics’

By Lawrence Fedewa – – Friday, August 11, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A controversial article in La Civiltà Cattolica, a Vatican-approved publication, by editor-in-chief Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, an Argentine Presbyterian pastor who leads his country’s edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has attacked the American Christians who supported Donald Trump for the American presidency.

Singled out for special opposition are the so-called “conservative” Catholics and the evangelical Christians and their alleged representative in the White House, Steve Bannon. Mr. Bannon is accused of advocating an “apocalyptic geopolitics.”

Taken by itself, the article is long, confusing, wildly inaccurate in its interpretation of American Christianity, and an unremarkable critique by uninformed foreigners of a “straw man,” that is, an opponent created by the authors for the purpose of attacking it (not unlike the “fake news” of America’s media stories).

What gives the article importance is the presumed association with Pope Francis I. Although the Pope has not commented publicly on the article, the publication is published by the Jesuits, the Pope’s religious order, sponsored by the Vatican, and the authors are well-known associates of the Pope. At several points in the text, Pope Francis’ positions are cited as differing from those of the supposed opposition. This context strongly suggests that this article speaks for the Pope. If so, it speaks poorly for the Pope.

In summary, the essence of the piece seems to be that conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants have formed a political alliance in the United States to create a theocracy, based on an Old Testament-oriented, fundamentalist ideology, which seeks to establish the literal interpretation of the Bible as the basis of American law. Adherents to this view are called “value voters.” As their means of promoting this view, they are full of “gloom and doom” scenarios about threats to the “American way of life.” The need for drastic changes is therefore urgent. It is not surprising that the authors liken this movement to the jihad of radical Islam. To top off their point of view, they describe the vehicle for this domination of American life as the Trump administration.

They contrast this terrifying threat of apocalypse with traditional Catholic (and biblical) belief that the Kingdom of God is not of this world. Here they are a little ambiguous (to say the least) because the Bible clearly sequences the Last Judgement as part of the apocalypse. Nevertheless, the authors accuse their opponents of seeking a “heaven on earth” which can only be achieved by winning the “war of religions.” The true Christian message is to treat everyone with love as preached by Pope Francis, “Love not war!” How all this ties together is not made clear by the authors..

What to make of all this?

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The Death of Democracy and “We the People”

By Colonel George Seiler, USAF (ret.), Ph.D., (Thursday, August 10, 2017)

We have elections to let the people, the US citizens, voice their opinion in the form of a vote.  For many years I have professed that we overthrow the current government with ballots, and not bullets.  The US was one of the few countries where the loser did not have to get out of town.  The loser could even still display the bumper sticker of his losing candidate, and not worry about his windows getting shattered, or his car burned and vandalized.  It was OK to express your opinion, and after the election, the two parties blended together to make America flourish, make a better life for the kids and grandkids, expand the family living quarters, save up for a new car, or college. Become a journeyman at a trade, like electrician, HVAC, auto maintenance, new buildings, new roads and bridges. Politics was at least 2 years away, and the Presidential election was 4 years away.

In the interim, people respected the office of the President.  It was taught in our schools to do so.  We rallied for or against policy, legislation bills, changes in treaties, new treaties, American involvement on the world front to keep us safe.

But in 2016/2017 something appalling happened.  Keep Reading

Stop dilly-dallying and pass Trump’s agenda

President Donald Trump stops to greet Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, left, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. at a luncheon with GOP leadership, Wednesday, July 19, 2017, in the State Dinning Room of the White House in Washington.

By Lawrence Fedewa – – Friday, July 21, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

America has watched with growing disgust the behavior of our politicians in the debate about Obamacare. The press accounts of the continuing turmoil assert that the reasons for the discord are almost entirely political – in the worst sense of that word. According to them, the primary reason for the deadlock is each member’s own analysis of how a vote will affect his or her re-election.

If true, this charge makes a mockery of democracy and the “right to free and fair elections,” as well as the entire system which it supports. It leads to the conclusion that the entire Congress is motivated by a selfish thirst for power so the desire to win re-election outweighs any consideration of the good of the country, that is, the people whom they are sworn to serve.

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DC event honors veterans and those who serve in Congress

 

Saturday, July 15, 2017DC 

 

OPINION

by Lawrence Fedewa | Jul 15, 2017, 12:01 AM

[Veterans are men and women who have had to live out the consequences of political decisions, often with dire results.] (Josh Bachman/The Las Cruces Sun-News via AP)

 

The Sixth Annual Bipartisan Tribute to Veterans and Those Who Serve in Congress was held in Washington on June 27, honoring veterans of military services and especially those who have continued their service to the nation in Congress.

The program began with a presentation of the flag by the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard, the National Anthem sung by Anthony Kearns, an invocation by the Chaplain of the House of Representatives Rev. Patrick Conroy, and a Pledge of Allegiance led by Pfc. Fame Academia and Will Hubbard. Hubbard is vice president of the Student Veterans Association, serving more than 1.1 million student veterans – the largest student organization in the country.

Other dignitaries in attendance included Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, New Zealand Ambassador Tim Groser, Irish Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Lonergan, and many others. Shulkin’s presence underscored his commitment to work with Congress on reforming the Veterans’ administration, and the president’s pledge to make it a priority.

A long list of Congressional veterans in attendance were represented by Reps. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., and Steve Russell, R-Okla., at the podium. Coffman is the only member of Congress who served in both the Marine Corps and the Army. Russell was an Army Ranger and was part of the team that captured Saddam Hussein (Russell’s book, We Got Him, describes that episode in vivid detail).

Their remarks reflected a characteristic notable in all the speeches, what might be called a new seriousness about governing. These veterans, no matter their party allegiance, are a no-nonsense group, who have learned the importance of national policies and priorities in combat, risking their own lives and watching their comrades fall in battle.

To them, legislation is not a matter to be delayed, with decisions to be “kicked down the road” for fear of not being re-elected. These are men and women who have had to live out the consequences of political decisions, often with dire results.

The evening then honored Academia, retired Marine Cpl. Jeff DeYoung, and DeYoung’s war-dog, Cena.

Master of Ceremonies Jennifer Griffin, Fox News’ National Security Correspondent, told Academia’s extraordinary story. At 89 years old, he is a walking oral history of the World War II Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Keep Reading

The Lion Is Gone

In memoriam: James Goeser (1940-2017)

May he rest in peace

Like a lion, he searched the plains

and found a way to stake his claims.

With vision, purpose, strength and grit,

he stayed the course and never quit.

He made the village on the plain

a place to live and work and gain

a life with kids, and love and games.

 

Now the Lion sleeps, his work is done.

His quiet strength has won

his place at the Savior’s feast.

But here the village weeps.

The dawn breaks and the sky is black,

the Lion is gone and never coming back.

 

-LJF (July 5, 2017)

 

What is “Democratic Socialism”?

Illustration on the roots of Bernie Sanders’ “Democratic Socialism” by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

What was bernie Sanders talking about?

By Lawrence Fedewa – – Friday, May 19, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

When Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, entered the Democratic primaries last year, a lot of people wondered. “What is democratic socialism?”

The classic definition of socialism is “a system of government in which the means of production and distribution of goods are owned, controlled or regulated by the government.” Socialism is distinguished from capitalism where the means of production and distribution are owned by private (non-governmental) parties, either individuals or organizations (such as companies).

The most radical form of socialism is communism, where all property is owned and distributed by the government. Less radical forms of socialism are seen in the governments of Western Europe, where private property is recognized but government has the responsibility of acquiring (through taxes) enough wealth to provide for physical well-being of all its citizens, however that may be interpreted at any given time.

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What is “Democratic Capitalism” anyway?

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

By Lawrence J. Fedewa – – Sunday, April 30, 2017

The first thing to understand is that “democracy’ is a system of governance, and “capitalism” is an economic system. The genius of America has been to unite these two elements into a synergistic whole with the goal of providing every American “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The foundation of capitalism is “profits.” A profit occurs when you sell something for more than you paid for it. All taxes depend on profits — no profits, no taxes; no taxes, no government. So, if governments (combining local, state and national) take too much of the profits generated by businesses, there will not be any profits, and the economy will fail — and people will go hungry.

Thus, there will always be a tension between government and business over the amount of profits government takes and the amount kept by businesses. Since there is no accepted “balance,” there is always a tug of war between advocates of “big government” and “limited government,” generally represented these days by the Democrats and the Republicans.

There are some basic issues at stake. First of all, governments generally have the guns, meaning the resources to enforce whatever they want to enforce, whether through confiscation (taxes), incarceration (prison), or militarization (martial law). The basis of democracy is to limit the powers of government so that it treats its citizens according to rules set by the representatives of those citizens. It is the responsibility of these representatives to in fact control the police, the military, and all law enforcement resources in such a way as to nurture the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of all its citizens. These “rules” are what we call the “law of the land.”

Obviously, it takes money to maintain a government capable of providing all these critically important services. Thus, the need for taxes. But there are no taxes without profits. People have to be motivated to work hard and to take chances with their money. So, what motivations are there which are powerful enough to get people to work hard?

Many motivations have been tried throughout human history. Fear is the most obvious. There can be physical dangers, the extreme of which is slavery. There can be fears of illness, of survival, of boredom, and so on. Most of human history has witnessed fear imposed by masters on slaves as the principal engine of economic activity. This is still rampant in our times — on a macro scale, such as in North Korea and other dictatorships, or on a micro scale such as in human trafficking.

The early history of capitalism was based on a slightly upgraded form of slavery. Where capitalists had no fear of government — or were in fact the government themselves as kings, oligarchies, or dictators — many forms of abusive behavior prevailed, including child labor, company stores, beatings and actual slavery. All human labor was grounded in despair.

Somehow, by the grace of God, the Founders of America — though many were themselves slaveowners — allowed the ideals of hope to shine brightly in the documents and organizations of the new Nation. Nowhere else in human history to that time had a national constitution been adopted which recognized the fundamental rights of all people “endowed by their Creator” (not by the State or the Church or the King) to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. That bias against big government pervades all the American foundation documents. The accompanying bias in favor of personal freedoms was a necessary byproduct of this view, which fit well with the frontier and the agricultural life of most early Americans.

Those early ideals were so firmly imbedded in the American character that we have spent the next 241 years trying to realize in practice the goals set forth by our founders, even to the fighting a war over these ideals, a war which cost 650,000 lives, an entire generation of young men. We have come a long way, but we have still far to go. Our only claim has to be that we never, ever stop striving to achieve for all our citizens life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the midst of our ever more complicated national life.

So, what motivation tops all others to make a person work hard, take chances, and create new ideas, new things, and new circumstances? That motivation is the desire to provide for a person’s family, to live in peace and security, and to dream big dreams. This is the spark of hope which underlies capitalism and entrepreneurship and a dynamic society. This is the motivation which moves labor from fear to hope, and which provides opportunities for a person to do and become whatever he or she can achieve. This is American capitalism at its best. Americans have spent two centuries rescuing the good of the capitalistic idea, shaving off the evil, and developing the most prosperous and egalitarian society in the history of the world.

The mechanism through which this integration of government and economic freedom has evolved is democracy – a means by which the will of ordinary people can be enforced against the evils of unbridled capitalism, as well as human slavery and degradation. Democratic capitalism, as it has evolved in 21st century America, has set the standard for all the world.

We must, however, be vigilant, and be aware that we have not achieved our ideals, that they are ever under attack, and that the challenges will forever be changing as we continue to create our own American history.

(Copyright,  2017  The Washington Times, LLC)

Autopsy of GOP’s repeal and replace efforts

House Speaker Paul Ryan (AP photo by Paul Applewhite)

By Lawrence Fedewa – – Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION

It all started with Speaker Paul Ryan’s conclusion that a House version of the Obamacare repeal could not get through the Senate without a filibuster by the Democrats. He wasn’t confident that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could round up the 60 votes required to break a filibuster. But the Speaker has been around Washington for a long time. He figured out a way to get the repeal through both houses of Congress on a straight party line vote.

That left the replace issue facing a Democrat filibuster, but he calculated that he could win enough Democrats to break or even forestall a filibuster if he had enough momentum behind him. After all, by that time, Obamacare would be gone, all the tax savings would be in sight, and the Dems would not be able to explain to their constituents why they had voted against a continuation of at least some form of subsidy—even if it meant going into Medicaid or declaring a tax credit for their new insurance policies. With the momentum at his back, Ryan figured the Republicans had a good chance of winning everything. So, he gambled everything.

The speaker was always focused more on process than he was on content – a key mistake. His proposal was very clever, but very complicated. It was based on a three-phase strategy:

1) Shape the repeal in the form of a budget reconciliation bill, which needed only a majority of votes in both Houses. However, the reconciliation bill could not include any new legislation. Only changes to existing law could be included.

2) A feature of the Obamacare legislation was a delegation of almost unlimited authority to the HHS Secretary to change any and all regulations pertaining to the implementation of the legislation. With the reaffirmation of this authority, Dr. Tom Price, the new HHS Secretary, could virtually take apart Obamacare brick by brick. This was phase two of Ryan’s strategy.

3) Phase three was when all the good stuff – which requires new laws – could be voted on by both Houses and sent to him president for signature. Victory!

So, what went wrong? Ryan made some key assumptions which turned out to be wrong. The most basic mistake was his assumption that, because only a year ago the House and Senate had placed a comprehensive repeal and replace bill on President Obama’s desk (for veto), consensus among Republicans would be easily achieved.

That assumption should have been tested and accompanied by a national promotion which included all the key constituencies of the Republican Party, and the President should have been enlisted to spearhead the public debate. All this before the introduction of the bill. As it was, there was no consultation outside the small circle of the leadership, and no public consensus to fall back on when troubles arose. Quite the opposite: even the rank and file Representatives had not seen the proposed bill before it was introduced.

The second assumption that proved mistaken was that the House Republican Caucus would understand and trust the complicated process (called “regular order”) proposed by the Speaker. This could not have been farther from the truth.

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