Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Great News

This article pretty much speaks for itself. Let's hope that either what it tells us is not true or that Republicans gain the necessary electoral victory in November to kill this Affordable Care Act beast before we wind up having to wait six months before we can see a doctor to have a tumor diagnosed. Or maybe we should hope for both.

Here's the crux of the story:
Eighty-three percent of American physicians have considered leaving their practices over President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, according to a survey released by the Doctor Patient Medical Association.

The DPMA, a non-partisan association of doctors and patients, surveyed a random selection of 699 doctors nationwide. The survey found that the majority have thought about bailing out of their careers over the legislation, which was upheld last month by the Supreme Court.

Even if doctors do not quit their jobs over the ruling, America will face a shortage of at least 90,000 doctors by 2020. The new health care law increases demand for physicians by expanding insurance coverage. This change will exacerbate the current shortage as more Americans live past 65.

By 2025 the shortage will balloon to over 130,000, Len Marquez, the director of government relations at the American Association of Medical Colleges, told The Daily Caller.

“One of our primary concerns is that you’ve got an aging physician workforce and you have these new beneficiaries — these newly insured people — coming through the system,” he said. “There will be strains and there will be physician shortages.”

The DPMA found that many doctors do not believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will lead to better access to medical care for the majority of Americans, co-founder of the DPMA Kathryn Serkes told TheDC.

“Doctors clearly understand what Washington does not — that a piece of paper that says you are ‘covered’ by insurance or ‘enrolled’ in Medicare or Medicaid does not translate to actual medical care when doctors can’t afford to see patients at the lowball payments, and patients have to jump through government and insurance company bureaucratic hoops,” she said.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is famous for having fatuously pronounced during debate over the ACA that, "We have to pass the bill to see what's in it." Well, now that we've passed it and we're seeing what's in it, a lot of people are wondering what the heck we've gone and done.

Science and Blind Faith

In the course of a post on how scientists say some pretty peculiar things, Rabbi Moshe Averick quotes world reknown chemist Dr. George Whitesides of Harvard, expatiating on the problem of the origin of life (OOL):
The Origin of Life: This problem is one of the big ones in science. It begins to place life, and us, in the universe. Most chemists believe, as do I, that life emerged spontaneously from mixtures of molecules in the prebiotic Earth...How? I have no idea. Perhaps it was by the spontaneous emergence of 'simple' autocatalytic cycles and then by their combination. On the basis of all the chemistry that I know, it seems to me astonishingly improbable. [emphasis mine]
So what's so peculiar about this? Imagine that a scientist were to say "Many theists believe, as do I, that life emerged spontaneously from an act of divine creation in the ancient Earth...How? I have no idea. Perhaps God simply spoke and cells appeared. On the basis of all the chemistry that I know, it seems to me astonishingly improbable that naturalistic processes alone could account for it.

Neither Dr. Whitesides nor the hypothetical theist have any evidence to support his belief, yet the latter's belief is considered irrational blind faith while Whitesides' belief is considered proper science. Why? What's the difference?

The answer, of course, is that the latter resorts to supernatural explanations whereas the former doesn't, but perhaps supernatural explanations are the correct ones. Why rule them out a priori? And how is it proper science to hold a belief when there's no empirical evidence to support it? If it's blind faith to believe that the OOL was supernaturally caused, even though evidence for this is difficult to come by, why is it not also blind faith to believe that it happened naturalistically even though, as Whitesides implies, there's no evidence for it?

There's nothing wrong with continuing to search for natural explanations in science, in fact, it's proper, but there is something wrong with assuming that a non-natural explanation is not to be considered simply because it's non-natural. It reminds me of William James' famous dictum that "A rule of thinking that would prevent me from finding a truth, if that truth were really there, is an irrational rule."

Extremist Party

Stephen Hayward of The Weekly Standard writes a fine piece on the oft-heard charge that the GOP is now in the hands of extremist Tea Party types and is well outside the mainstream of American life. The charge is ridiculous on the face of it but made moreso by virtue of emanating from members of a political party whose iconic figures of the past would have a hard time being nominated to high office today:
The never-ending Democratic attempt to resurrect the strategy that destroyed Barry Goldwater in 1964—he’s an extremist, don’t you know—rolls on, with liberals and the media trying to tar the Republican party as an “ideological outlier” in American politics.

There are three legs to this rickety barstool of an argument. One is the pseudo-social science findings of Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann that congressional Republican voting records have lurched sharply to the right in recent years (though it is not obvious why this should be bad news).

The second is the populism of the Tea Party, which, to be sure, is a disruptive force in the Republican party much as the anti-Vietnam war movement was a disruptive force in the Democratic party in the late 1960s and 1970s. The wobbliest leg of the triad is the argument, unfortunately abetted by Jeb Bush, that the GOP has become too extreme even for Ronald Reagan.

To see how silly this all is consider the charge of extremism and ask which party is it that has wandered far from its roots? Is it the party who wants to return to the policies of Reagan or the party whose most famous president would find himself persona non grata in many precincts of today's Democrat party?
Hayward explains why FDR, Harry Truman, and JFK would be more comfortable today as moderate Republicans than as Obama/Pelosi Democrats:
Start with Franklin Roosevelt. Despite his New Deal programs, he piled up a considerable record of statements that would be anathema to contemporary liberal orthodoxy. “The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me,” he told Congress in 1935, “show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief .  .  . is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” A liberal can’t talk about our welfare state that way today.

FDR opposed public employee unions. In a 1937 letter to a public employees’ association, FDR wrote: “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. .  .  . Militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees.”

FDR, an Episcopalian, made the kind of remarks about religion that send the American Civil Liberties Union into paroxysms of rage when someone like George W. Bush or Sarah Palin says the same thing today. During World War II, FDR wrote a preface for an edition of the New Testament that was distributed to American troops: “As Commander-in-Chief, I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States.” On the eve of the 1940 election, FDR said in a campaign radio address: “Freedom of speech is of no use to a man who has nothing to say and freedom of worship is of no use to a man who has lost his God.” Today, the left-wing fever swamps would call this “Christianism.”

Environmentalists would stoutly oppose FDR because of his massive public works projects, such as the giant habitat-destroying dams on the Columbia River and in the Tennessee Valley. The car-haters of the left decry FDR for promoting urban sprawl and road-building. Historian James Flink wrote, “The American people could not have done worse in 1932 had they deliberately set out to elect a president who was ignorant of the implications of the automobile revolution.”
Hayward makes a similar case that Harry Truman and John Kennedy would also find themselves getting cold-shouldered by today's party. Both Democrats and Republicans have shifted leftward over the last fifty years. Republicans, however, are trying to paddle back to the traditional conservatism from whence they came, while Democrats are surging at full throttle toward the socialist nirvana. Yet Democrats, insouciently unaware of the silliness of the charge, are tagging the Republicans with the "extremist" label.

Here's a good rule of thumb: Whenever you hear liberals call anyone an "extremist" understand that by that word what they mean is "someone who disagrees with them."

Thanks to Jason for calling my attention to this article.