FOCUS ON WINNING THE WAR

Obamacare is one of those disasters half of us would just like to go away. The other half either has selfish financial interests or Utopian pipe dreams tied up in such Socialist legislation. Think I am being unfair to the other half? From the beginning we knew Obamacare would not work. Obamacare is economically unsound. So from the beginning we knew what the Democrats wanted was a single payer, government-run healthcare monopoly. Don’t we know how, if Hillary Clinton had been elected, Obamacare would have been fixed? Don’t we already know Obamacare needs to be fixed?

So now we have this stinking albatross around our neck. What is the best way to get rid of it? There is no quick and simple answer.  Budget reconciliation does not clearly provide it.

The reconciliation process, created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Pub. L. 93–344, 88 Stat. 297, 2 U.S.C. §§ 601–688), establishes the mechanism by which Congress can move controversial legislation without it being subject to a filibuster in the Senate. But to use the authority, Congress must take certain prescribed steps and avoid potential pitfalls. (continued here)

Pitfalls! So it is that Congress cannot include matters extraneous to budget reconciliation in a budget reconciliation bill.

Specifically, section 313(b)(1) of the Congressional Budget Act defines “extraneous” matters as those that:

  • do not produce a change in outlays or revenues;

  • produce changes in outlays or revenue which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;

  • are outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;

  • increase outlays or decrease revenue if the provision’s title, as a whole, fails to achieve the Senate reporting committee’s reconciliation instructions;

  • increase net outlays or decrease revenue during a fiscal year after the years covered by the reconciliation bill unless the provision’s title, as a whole, remains budget neutral; or

  • contain recommendations regarding the OASDI (social security) trust funds.

(from here)

Thus, when Congress tried to repeal Obamacare in 2015 they ran into problems in the Senate.

In October 2015, the House passed H.R. 3762: Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom, which repealed significant portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including:

  • the Automatic Enrollment Requirement,
  • the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF, also referred to as the “Obamacare slush fund”),
  • both the Individual and Employer Mandates,
  • the Medical Device Tax, and
  • the health insurance “Cadillac Tax,”.

The bill also prohibited federal funds for Planned Parenthood, its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, and clinics for one year. Instead, the bill designated an additional $235 million for the Community Health Center Fund.

When the bill reached the Senate in January 2016, the Senate parliamentarian reviewed the House-passed bill to see if provisions of the bill met the extraneous matter requirements of the Byrd Rule.  She determined that repeal of the individual mandate and employer mandate, were extraneous policies, and not primarily budgetary in nature.  As a result, they were dropped from the bill and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered an amended version of the reconciliation bill that retained the policy of the individual and employer mandates, but eliminated the penalty for non-compliance.

Final passage from the conference committee occurred January 6, 2016 and was vetoed by President Obama two days later. (from here)

So even if the House passes the bill before it, the Senate may weaken it.  Unfortunately, we have little reason to believe the Senate dislikes big government.

So let consider a solution for this problem. Let’s begin by properly defining the problem. How did Obamacare happen? Democrats, politicians who do not respect the Constitution or our nation’s traditions, got control of the presidency, the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and a practical majority on the Supreme Court. Therefore, to repeal Obamcare, we need control of the presidency, the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and a practical majority on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, we are not quite there. So, the solution is getting there, getting enough Conservative politicians to pass Conservative legislation.

Why do the American people elect politicians who do not respect the Constitution or our nation’s traditions? That is both a problem of the heart and the heart of the problem. To the extent we can do something about it, it is an education problem. Before the Democrats created budget-busting boondoggles like Social Security, Medicare, and now Obamacare, they took over the education of our nation’s children. So it is we have public funding of schools starting in kindergarten and ending with the completion of doctoral programs. Inevitably, people educated in socialist institutions by people who make their living off socialist institutions have difficulty seeing what is wrong with Socialism.  Inevitably, when the absence of instruction suggests such things don’t matter, children raised in secularized institutions have a difficult time relating to God and God-given rights. Therefore, if we don’t want everything run by our government, we must privatize our education system.

Are you familiar with school choice? Even if you are, you may find it useful to visit What is School Choice?  This is an article provided by Focus on the Family, which some would call a right-wing Christian organization. Here is how that article begins.

School choice is a nationwide movement that empowers parents by enabling them to make the best possible choice for their children’s education. In short, it puts power in the hands of parents to decide which type of education best fits the needs of their particular child – whether that is a public, private or religious institution, or educating their child at home.

School choice also protects parents’ constitutional rights to direct their children’s upbringing in accordance with the values, principles and religious convictions they hold dear. (continued here)

Think about it. Has the notion of the People running the own lives — educating their own children as they see fit — become as scary to our government as it was to the British Crown in 1776?

So what do we do with President Donald Trump’s and Speaker Paul Ryan’s bill, the American Health Care Act? I suggest we help Trump and Ryan pass the bill.  It is not perfect, but we need to keep our allies strong.  Trump and Ryan need the win, and half a loaf is better than none. At this point, half a loaf is all we can expect.

Why must we keep Trump and Ryan strong? Although we must fight our school choice battles predominantly at the state level, we must keep strong advocates for school choice in charge of the Federal Government. Otherwise, Democrats will win the fight to federalize the education of our nation’s children with programs like Common Core. See the following.

Is Common Core is a commie plot? Who knows?  The point is that the Constitution does not authorize a Federally run educational bureaucracy. Even if the Constitution did authorize Federal spending on education, do we actually need massive numbers of bureaucrats to educate our children? What possible good could they do?

WHERE DO THE “GREAT” BUSYBODIES COME FROM? — AN UPDATE

A painting by Andre Castaigne depicting the phalanx attacking the centre during the Battle of the Hydaspes. (from here)
A painting by Andre Castaigne depicting the phalanx attacking the centre during the Battle of the Hydaspes. The Indians had 200 war elephants. (from here)

UPDATE:  This is a related post => The Word became flesh.

When I was a boy, history fascinated me. So I read biographies about “great” people.  One man I still remember reading about is Alexander the Great. Why was he great? As a conqueror, he had no equal.

Read about Alexander, and you will discover a man who had no fear of unequal contests. With far fewer soldiers (see here and here), for example, Alexander defeated the Achaemenid Empire (Persia), led by Darius III.

Unfortunately, Alexander accomplished little good. When it comes right down to it, Alexander the Great was just a great busybody.

What finally stopped Alexander’s string of bloody conquests? Alexander’s soldiers grew tired marching farther from home, fighting farther from home, and dying farther from home. Alexander’s soldiers grew tired being pawns in Alexander’s grand scheme to conquer the whole world (see Revolt of the army).

Today we still have “great” busybodies with grand schemes that promise great things. Here are a few random examples and reasons why we must revolt against the schemes of busybodies.

Our National Infrastructure

In his opinion piece, The national infrastructure dilemma, John Sitilides observes why Donald Trump’s $1 trillion national infrastructure program may fail.

Here’s the bottom line: Even if President Trump successfully persuades Congress to immediately pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, he will be frustrated by the reality that the first project wouldn’t begin, and the first job wouldn’t be created, until 2021. The real first step to a national infrastructure and job-creation solution is requiring all environmental impact statements be completed in a 12-month “one-stop” permitting process. Only then will the Trump infrastructure plan have a chance to succeed in making America great again.

To put it short and sweet, government busybodies, unconcerned about wasting other people’s money, require too much red tape, but even Sitilides fix won’t fix the basic problem.  What happens when we give our money to politicians? Do they ever figure out exactly what we need and provide it to us? Doesn’t that work about as well as stopping at the entrance of a Walmart, giving the greeter 50 dollars, and asking greeter to go inside and bring you what you need?

Why wouldn’t giving our money to the greeter work better? At least you could give that greeter a list, but what is Donald Trump going to do with 300 million lists? How much can we trust that greeter? How much can we trust Donald Trump? How much can we trust Congress?

The Public School System

In Shakin’ Up the Little Red Schoolhouse, Suzanne Fields observes that our public schools keep getting worst.  To underscore the degree of neglect she cites an old report.

The concern is not new. A loud alarm was sounded in 1983 with a report entitled “A Nation at Risk,” and Ronald Reagan held it up at a press conference, decrying the substandard performances of school children across America. The report concluded: “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.”

Think about Fields’ reference to the little red schoolhouse. American education began as a local enterprise. Neighbors who knew each other pooled their resources so they could hire a teacher to instruct their children. Now? Now we have four levels of government (school board, local government, state government, and Federal) sticking their noses into the education of our children. Politicians take our money and hire a grand bureaucracy, thereby rewarding teachers unions for their campaign donations.  Then, to add insult to injury they indoctrinate our children with politically correct courses and tout expensive school buildings (or classrooms in “temporary” buildings) as an improvement over the little red schoolhouse.

Is there a better alternative? What do the rich do? Don’t they send their children to private schools? Don’t we “invest” enough money in the public school system to do the same for everyone’s children? When the alternative is politicians who will reward special interests, what is wrong with parents deciding who educates children?

Political Favoritism At Our Nation’s Museum

In Clarence Thomas snubbed by Smithsonian’s new African American history museum, Washington Times reporter Bradford Richardson tells us about the blatant bias at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History.

Of the 112 justices appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court since its inception, only two have been black — and the second one apparently isn’t worth consideration, as far as the new National Museum of African American History and Culture is concerned.

The Smithsonian museum still has “no plans” to include in its exhibitions a reference to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the high court’s conservative stalwarts who celebrates his 25th anniversary on the bench this year. (continued here)

I hardly think I am the only American who finds the whole idea of an African American Museum hypocritical. Don’t we all know how people would react to a White American Museum, even one funded by a private group? Yet here we have a Federally funded museum that overtly discriminates based upon race, and that’s not the story, not even in the Conservative Washington Times. Nope! The problem is that the museum is discriminating against a Conservative African American.

🙄

How stupid do we have to be to put up with this nonsense? What kind of moron thinks we can trust politicians to run a museum and not engage in political propaganda or worse? The museum is racist. Given that, what is the point in demanding that Clarence Thomas be included in the museum’s exhibition? That racist farce needs to be shut down.

Conclusion

From time to time I refer to an old post, BUSYBODYISM. When I wrote that post, I labelled the Democratic Party as the party of Busybodyism.  That’s not to say that members of the Republican Party are never busybodies. The point is that for Democrats being busybodies is ideological. Just as Alexander offered rape, pillage, and the glories of conquest to induce his soldiers to march to India, our modern political busybodies dream up schemes for spending “other people’s money”.

The government of the United States exists to preserve our freedom, not to run our lives for us. When we can do something ourselves, there is no reason to tax our neighbors and make them pay for it.  If something can be done by the local government, there is no reason for the state government to do it. If something can be done by the state government, then the Federal Government, particularly when the Constitution does not give it the authority, has no reason to get involved.

Still, there is more to Busybodyism than people sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Government busybodies don’t just stick their noses where they don’t belong; they wrest control from us. They take our money and spend it for us. They make our choices for us.  If we want to get what we want, roads where we need them, schools that work, or museums that respect the truth, then we have to make our own choices and pay for the services we use. That means tolls and user fees to pay for a decent transportation infrastructure. That means we pay for the education of our own children or at least insist upon education vouchers. That means private museums funded by the people who visit them. That means a limited government where we give busybodies the boot.

THE JOY OF BEING TORMENTED?

cross.pngWhen Jesus spoke, He must have caused lots of confusion. Can you imagine trying to decipher The Beatitudes, this one, for example

Matthew 5:11-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus had yet to die on the cross. He only just begun to teach. He had performed miracles, but just who was He? Nevertheless, His followers soon saw the truth in His words. Christians did suffer for their faith in Jesus and still suffer from insults, persecution, and false accusations.

Here in the United States we are supposed to consider the persecution of Christianity a minor thing. Yet it is not. It is just more subtle.  So we get articles like this:

All this sort of talk is silly.  What is at issue is whether our we can fulfill our Christian obligations, whether the society we live in tries interfere with our duty to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

Consider two examples.

  • Do we want to educate our children in the Christian faith? Is it not obvious our government now hinders us in that effort. Over the decades, government has secularized our schools. They have practically banished the Bible, and they teach religion causes wars, including the Christian religion. Why would the leaders of our government do that? Christianity, which promotes individual rights, is an obstacle to the growth of government power, and some of our leaders crave more power.
  • Do we want the right to speak freely about our faith in public? Once that was commonplace in America, but over the years the mass media, desirous of selling sex and violence, has constantly pushed the envelope of decency. So it is that many corporate executives in the mass media, now dominated by sales people who want to use indecent behavior to mass market goods and services, feel obliged to repress Christians, who teach modesty, abhor gratuitous violence, and promote frugality.

Because sin is popular in all societies, even the United States, anyone who strives to follow the example of Jesus Christ will experience some degree of persecution. There is no point in pretending otherwise. The only issue is whether what we choose to do about it honors Jesus Christ.

FREDERIC BASTIAT ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOOD AND A BAD ECONOMIST

Mankind's Eternal Dilemma: The Choice Between Virtue and Vice by Frans Francken the Younger depicts three choices: heaven, earth, and hell (from here)
Mankind’s Eternal Dilemma: The Choice Between Virtue and Vice by Frans Francken the Younger depicts three choices: heaven, earth, and hell (from here)

The American news media has a good business model. Suffering, sex, violence, and so forth attracts viewers, but is the news media’s business model good for us? When they show us suffering, what is the first thought of the news media and its too often mindless admirers? It is a crisis! The government has to do something!

Why the government? Well, it makes for a good story. The reporters can point their cameras at somebody and tell us what he is doing or not doing.

Is our government always supposed to do something? Why? When there is a problem, how far ahead does the news media look? Doesn’t the news media always gravitate to the next crisis? Do they actually give much thought to anything?

Consider Frédéric Bastiat‘s observation on the importance of foresight.

In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause–it is seen. The others unfold in succession–they are not seen: it is well for us if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference–the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

In fact, it is the same in the science of health, arts, and in that of morals. If often happens, that the sweeter the first fruit of a habit is, the more bitter are the consequences. Take, for example, debauchery, idleness, prodigality. When, therefore, a man, absorbed in the effect which is seen, has not yet learned to discern those which are not seen, he gives way to fatal habits, not only by inclination, but by calculation.

This explains the fatally grievous condition of mankind. Ignorance surrounds its cradle: then its actions are determined by their first consequences, the only ones which, in its first stage, it can see. It is only in the long run that it learns to take account of the others. It has to learn this lesson from two very different masters–experience and foresight. Experience teaches effectually, but brutally. It makes us acquainted with all the effects of an action, by causing us to feel them; and we cannot fail to finish by knowing that fire burns, if we have burned ourselves. For this rough teacher, I should like, if possible, to substitute a more gentle one. I mean Foresight. (from here)

Over the last couple of centuries, our nation has accumulated many unjust laws. In each instance a large segment of the population conspired together to make “other people do the right thing”. In others words, some busybodies insisted upon making everyone else do things their way.

What has been the result? Here are some examples.

  • We have a public education system that worked at first. Then our leaders slowly stripped it of any religious content. Our knowledge of civics is also abysmal. Man on the street interviews have become a national joke.
  • Some time back too many of us started letting our leaders ignore the Constitution whenever we wanted what they promised. Now our president routinely issues executive orders everyone knows are unconstitutional.
  • We created the Fed to prevent bank runs. Now we have a fiat currency that steadily loses value, and our banking system gives everyone the shivers.
  • We passed the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The income taxes that that amendment allowed were only supposed to affect the top one percent.
  • To allow the direct election of senators, we passed the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.  Now the Federal Government has more raw power than all the state governments combined. Perhaps a Convention of the States could change that. Perhaps.
  • Social Security once looked like a humane way to save the elderly from poverty. Now that costly system threatens to go bankrupt.
  • More and more our healthcare system, responsible for prolonging so many lives, is government-run. Such a system will almost certainly lead to rationing. Then we will die waiting in line to be treated.
  • We created a great safety-net to prevent the effects of poverty. Who anticipated those generous welfare programs would encourage greater social ills such as unwed motherhood?
  • In the name of civil rights, our great and glorious leaders decided to protect everyone’s “rights”. Now many think their “rights” are something “the man” owes them.

Earlier this year I wrote PART 4 FOR BOTH “HOW A POOR WIDOW ANSWERED HER CALLING” AND “GOVERNMENT-GIVEN RIGHTS VERSUS GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS”. That post included a section on The Seven Christian Virtues. That section describes how and why those who believe in government have worked to pervert the virtues of our people.

To have foresight is to be wise, and it is worth remembering that wisdom is something we each must learn. Our government cannot give us wisdom. It is also worth remembering that virtue is something we each must practice. Our government cannot be virtuous for us.