Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Denial of Service

Of course, this would never happen here because, well, our congress would never let it:

Remember the whole controversy over "death panels" - the idea, as President Obama dismissively put it, that greater government control over medicine would cause bureaucrats to "pull the plug on grandma"? Well, for weeks now Britain's newspapers have been filled with articles about the National Health Service pulling the plug on grandma.

The latest is the story of a woman who had to fight her doctors for weeks after they withdrew care from her 80-year-old mother. According to the London Times:

Hazel Fenton, from East Sussex, is alive nine months after medics ruled she had only days to live, withdrew her antibiotics, and denied her artificial feeding. The former school matron had been placed on a controversial care plan intended to ease the last days of dying patients.

Doctors say Fenton is an example of patients who have been condemned to death on the Liverpool care pathway plan. They argue that while it is suitable for patients who do have only days to live, it is being used more widely in the NHS, denying treatment to elderly patients who are not dying.

Fenton's daughter describes the NHS system for dealing with very ill elderly patients as "a subterfuge for legalized euthanasia of the elderly." In other words, a death panel.

There are more such accounts at the link of how the government health system in England churns out one horror after another. This is the fate to which the cheerleaders for a public option would consign us. After all, why should the English be the only ones to enjoy such blessings?

Then there's British literary figure Martin Amis who wants euthanasia booths on every street corner:

The novelist Martin Amis has called for euthanasia booths on street corners, where elderly people can end their lives with "a martini and a medal".

The author of Time's Arrow and London Fields even predicts a Britain torn by internal strife in the 2020s if the demographic time bomb of the ageing population is not tackled head-on.

"How is society going to support this silver tsunami?" he asks in an interview in The Sunday Times Magazine today.

"There'll be a population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops. I can imagine a sort of civil war between the old and the young in 10 or 15 years' time."

How big a step is it from making euthanasia available to "stinking, demented old people" to demanding that they avail themselves of it? It's chilling to think that when government runs health care faceless bureaucrats will ultimately decide who receives care and who doesn't. It's not hard to imagine a lot of those bureaucrats sharing the opinions of Mr. Amis. After all, several of President Obama's advisors have already gone on record with views not far removed from those of Mr. Amis.

It's a Brave New World we are embarking upon under our HopenChange political leadership.


Wedge Strategy

CNN reports that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is circulating a series of questions to their senatorial candidates and are encouraging them to pose these questions to their Republican opponents. The hope is that by forcing the Republicans to answer these queries a wedge will be driven between the candidate and at least some of his or her base.

Here are the questions:

  1. Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S.citizen?
  2. Do you think the Tenth Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum healthcare coverage standards?
  3. Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism, and should never have been created in the first place?
  4. Do you think President Obama is a socialist?
  5. Do you think America should return to a gold standard?

I don't think these challenges are very well-framed, but nevertheless, here's an attempt to answer them:

  1. Who knows? He says he is, but he refuses to produce a genuine birth certificate so it's difficult to be anything but agnostic on the matter.
  2. If by minimum standards is meant that congress has the right to demand under penalty of law that you purchase health insurance then no, I don't think the constitution grants that right.
  3. They are programs that are consistent with a socialist economy, but to ask whether we would be better off had they never been created is like asking whether we would be better off if we never developed a fondness for sweets. The fact is that our society has adapted to these programs and has come to depend upon them so it would be extremely wrenching to change at this point. But that doesn't mean it was the best way at the time to solve the problem of how to provide for retirees. It should be noted, too, that when these programs were created they were not intended to be the huge bureaucratic leviathans they have since become.
  4. He certainly has socialist predilections and sympathies. Whether he would, in a moment of candor, actually call himself a socialist or not, what he would create in this country were he given free rein would doubtless be indistinguishable from Euro-socialism.
  5. If the question is asking whether we should have a sound currency, it answers itself. Whether the gold standard is the only way, or the best way, to achieve that, I don't know, but if it is, then surely we should adopt it.

In response another set of questions has been provided to Republican candidates by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to pose to their Democratic opponents. It'd be interesting to hear how a Democrat candidate would reply to them:

  1. Do you believe the $787 billion "stimulus" bill worked?
  2. Would you support a second so-called "stimulus" bill, even though the first failed to create much-needed jobs? Or do you believe the unspent money should be returned to the taxpayers?
  3. Are you willing to hold open discussions to reach an agreement on bipartisan health care reform, or will you continue to support backroom deals - such as the Cornhusker Kickback - in order to ram an unpopular and costly government-run health care bill through Congress?
  4. Do you support the half-trillion dollars in Medicare cuts proposed in the Democrats' health care bill, and do you believe that those cuts will strengthen Medicare? If so, would you support a stand-alone bill to "strengthen" Medicare by cutting a half-trillion dollars?
  5. Do you support the almost half-trillion dollars in new taxes contained in the Democrats' health care bill? If so, do you believe raising taxes during a recession is the right thing to do?
  6. Do you support increasing the nation's debt limit by yet another $2 trillion?
  7. Do you support the contentious and costly cap-and-trade legislation, or will you stand up for families, seniors, and small business owners who cannot afford to pay for a costly tax increase every time they turn on their lights or go about their day-to-day lives?
  8. Do you believe the Obama Administration was correct when they gave the Christmas Day bomber a lawyer and the right to remain silent before our intelligence professionals had the opportunity to question him about other potential attacks on the United States?
  9. Do you agree with the Obama Administration that terrorists should be afforded the same rights as American citizens, tried in American courtrooms, and ultimately held on American soil?

I think I would rather be a Republican who had to answer the Democrats' questions than a Democrat who had to answer the Republicans' questions.