Submental Gymnastics

Bill Maher and Piers Morgan
CNN, October 29, 2013

Submental. A word that seems to mean one thing, but by means of some linguistic gymnastics, is bent to mean something else. It would imply something below the level of proper mentation, but it doesn’t.  Just like the meaning of the word “settled” seems to mean something special to statists in regards to the law.

“And also, let’s again have a little perspective. Was any program ever, ever sabotaged to the degree this one has been? I mean, it’s been three years. It’s not a bill. It’s a law. I know that tea people think they know the Constitution — I don’t think they’ve even read it. A bill becomes a law, once it does, you don’t argue about it…I don’t care what your opinion on the health care law is now, it’s the law — you’re supposed to help it along.”  — Bill Maher, “Piers Morgan Live”, CNN, Tuesday October 29, 2013

Hey, Bill…I have a question for you.  Have you driven on a road in the past decade or so that had a speed limit of, say, 65 mph? It’s hard to drive any significant distance without finding one; most Interstates and other major highways have raised their limits to somewhere around there.  You’re old enough, Bill, to remember the late 70’s, just after something called the “National Maximum Speed Law” was passed, in the throes of the “Energy Crisis”. It was part of the “Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act”, which limited maximum speed on ANY road in the US to 55 mph.

In 1995, guess what happened, Bill. That law was repealed.  That’s right, it was repealed.  As in eradicated, removed, cancelled. Congress voted to negate it.  “What,” you say, “A Federal Law was cancelled?”  You recoil in disgust, your emotions an agonized, confused whirl.  “But when a bill becomes a law, once it does, you don’t argue about it!  It’s supposed to never go away!”

It did, Bill. History is full of such laws that have been passed, lasted a while, then were…brace yourself…repealed.  I’m sorry to have to shock you like that, Bill, I know that word hurts to hear, but you have to face it someday. Laws like the Alaska Native Allotment Act, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Dawes Act, and even the…I’m sorry, this is brutal for you and I realize that, but be brave…the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917.  Now that’s submental, isn’t it, Bill?

Then there’s the Banking Act of 1933. You’re a liberal, Bill, you surely know what that was.  You don’t recognize it?  Why, it was the Glass-Steagall Act! I thought every liberal knew what that was, and blamed it’s loss for the financial crisis. All the Occupiers had signs demanding it be reenacted, you MUST remember THAT!  And the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act — though you may remember it as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 — don’t you remember?

That act repealed PART of the Glass-Steagall Act. Just part. There was such argument and haranguing over that, but in the end, it was done. Weren’t you all so upset when the Republicans tried to negate just PART of the ACA? You thought that was so unfair, to try to remove just a piece of a law like that. And when the shutdown came, there was such furor over the Republicans trying to pass “piecemeal” laws to cover things like death benefits, and national monuments. No, it had to be all of it, that’s what you all screamed, all of it!  It’s the law of the land, it’s settled!  You can’t just hack at it like this, you have to accept it, get behind it! That’s what you all said.

But then someone asked for the sequester to be negated. They wanted those increases restored.  I thought the sequester was a Federal law? It’s settled.  Why this talk of…(choke) repealing  it? Wait…wasn’t that something you wanted?  You didn’t like the sequester. In fact, didn’t you say “This Sequester shit is so submental – its like not having the willpower to diet, so rigging the refrigerator to blow up when you open it”?  Bill, even though the word “submental” means “located in, affecting, or performed on the area under the chin,”  that comment would imply that you…you…didn’t agree with a law.  You wanted it…repealed.  But according to you, isn’t that sort of thing submental?  Well, I, for one, feel like I’ve taken one on the chin, but I don’t think that’s what you meant, was it?

I’m confused about your desire to repeal the sequester, Bill.  Aren’t we supposed to help it along, regardless of our opinion on it? But Democrats want to fight over the sequester, and even Ezra Klein can see that the deal to end the shutdown presented them with a golden opportunity to change an existing, settled law.

“The timing of all this is designed to create a fight about sequestration. The Jan. 15 deadline means funding for the federal government runs out at the exact moment sequestration’s deeper cuts kick in. The Dec. 13 deadline means that the full House and Senate would have time to consider any package of recommendations the bicameral committee comes up with, if the committee actually manages to come up with anything.” — Ezra Klein, Washington Post, October 14, 2013.

I think it’s time to face some uncomfortable facts, Bill. I know it hurts to say this, but I think it’s clear that any law can be repealed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a liberal or conservative law. It doesn’t matter if it has bipartisan support, or if the Supreme Court rules in its favor.  SCOTUS can revisit it and change its mind, or Congress can pass a law that changes or even negates a law — they can remove it entirely. There’s even a procedure, laid out in the Constitution, for amending it. The highest law of the land can be altered if the proper procedure is followed.  There have been 27 amendments to the US Constitution. Of those, the 18th Amendment prohibited alcohol…and the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th.  No law is immune to changes over time.

Democrats have been screaming for the 2nd Amendment to either go away, or be hedged about with regulations, restrictions, and obstructions to the point where the people would only be able to legally get single-shot rimfire rifles, which they have to keep in a government-run armory, and can only be taken out to go to a government-sanctioned range and back again. That’s how they do it in much of Europe, after all, and aside from the skyrocketing violence, terrorist actions, and public massacres by rampaging nutcases, they’re doing  just fine… Well, to be fair, not all Democrats want that. Some want every single gun in America turned in and melted down into commemorative paperweights. Except for the ones held by the police, of course. They say “we don’t want to take away your guns,” but they have their fingers crossed behind their backs, because they have made it perfectly clear that they do in fact want to do just that.

But to paraphrase you, Bill, it’s not a bill. It’s an amendment to the Constitution. I know that statist, leftist people think they know the Constitution — I don’t think they’ve even read it. A bill becomes an amendment, then goes to the States for ratification. Once it does, you don’t argue about it.

Right, Bill?

 

Respectfully Submitted

References

Bill Maher on Piers Morgan Show, CNN 10/29/13:  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1310/29/pmt.01.html

Ezra Klein, Wonkblog, Washington Post 10/14/13:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/14/the-senates-deal-to-end-the-shutdown-is-a-deal-to-fight-over-sequestration/

Riding the Legislative Omnibus

Piecemeal.

That’s what the Democrats are calling the House Republicans’ steps to address the current funding gap and partial government shutdown. They are complaining that the House wants to break up the budgetary issues currently at odds in the continuing resolution. What the House is doing is a response to the utter gridlock on the huge omnibus appropriations bill currently at a standstill due to the Obama Administration’s intransigence. The House figured, OK, they don’t want to pass the CR we’ve given them, let’s take a step back, break it down, and fund things that need immediate attention.  This is seen as a “piecemeal” or “cherry-picking” approach by the Democrats. But is this attitude just another example of Democrat grandstanding?

I believe it is. Harry Reid said in an interview:

“Now they are focusing on trying to cherry-pick some of the few parts of government that they like,” Reid said. “Just another wacky idea by the tea party-driven Republicans. … We support veterans, and parks, we support the FBI, we support the federal government, that’s our job that’s what we do. We can’t and we won’t be forced to choose between parks and cancer research or disease control or highway safety or the FBI, or national security agencies.” — Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 9, 2013

On the surface, it sounds like Ol’ Harry “Cowboy Poet” Reid has a point, but that point is fragile, like that of a mechanical pencil. Subject it to too much pressure, and it snaps off.

Congressional appropriations, according to Jessica Tollestrup, Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process for the Congressional Research Service, come in three major types: regular appropriations bills, continuing resolutions, and supplemental appropriations measures. The type that, under normal circumstances, provides most of our government’s funding is the regular appropriations bill.

The normal process during the Congressional year is for the budget (supposed to be offered by the President) to be broken down into around 12 or so separate chunks, each of which is considered by a separate appropriations subcommittee. Spending bills are originated in the House, by Constitutional requirement, and the Senate wrangles over possible changes to what the House committees propose. Each chunk addresses a different area of government spending. When things are going as laid out in the Constitution, the process goes back and forth until a budget is acceptable to both the House and the Senate, then each chunk, each a separate appropriations bill, is given to the President to sign or veto.  (This is highly simplified, for the full process refer to the CRS document at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/97-684.pdf)

But things are not normal right now. Congress has not been able to agree on a budget for around 5 years. The President passed down a couple, but they didn’t work for Congress. The House has passed a number of budgetary measures, but the Senate didn’t accept them, such as the Ryan plan. Yes, it has been that long since we had an actual budget.  In order to keep functioning in absence of a budget, Congress has resorted to the second type of appropriations bill, the Continuing Resolution. But just because it’s a CR doesn’t mean it’s not supposed to be broken out into its usual chunks and put in a bunch of smaller bills. What we’ve got, though is one huge bill with everything in it, an omnibus bill.

Omnibus bills are typically an attempt to save time by putting everything in the same package deal. While they can, under some circumstances, help with getting things done before deadlines, it’s easy to hide jokers like earmarks, special interest favors, and other kinds of “pork” because they are usually huge. Such large documents are rarely completely understood because there’s never enough time to read them. They are a strategy to slam-dunk a whole lot of extra stuff into the “law of the land” along with the main body of the budget.  They’ve been getting more and more popular since the 70’s, containing more and more and more of the budget in a single, unwieldy bill.

The Omnibus Bill
“Read The Bill!”

Remember Nancy Pelosi’s famous “we need to pass it so we can find out what’s in it” line about the Obamacare bill? That’s what happens when you have omnibus bills — they’re so big that you have legislators like John Conyers saying “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill.’ What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”  It’s quite simple — bills in general in Congress were supposed to be smaller, easier to read and understand, making it actually possible to do the work of Congress properly in the time allotted them. Such omnibus bills are too big to fully grasp.

Congressmen have complained about omnibus bills vociferously in the past, including prominent Democrats, and at least one President has made his displeasure known. President Ronald Reagan, in his 1988 State of the Union address, thunked down three huge stacks of budget bills weighing in at 42 pounds.  He was quite clear when he said:

“Congress shouldn’t send another one,” said President Reagan, forcefully. “No, and if you do, I will not sign it.”

He received a standing ovation. A bipartisan standing ovation. It was justified — this was the second time in two years, the third time ever, that all 13 regular appropriations bills were presented as an omnibus.  Ten years later, then House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) had this to say about another 40-pound appropriations conference report:

“Ronald Reagan was right. It was a bad way to do business in 1988, and it’s a bad way to do business in 1998.”

This wasn’t even as large a bill as the one Reagan was angry over — it only contained 8 regular appropriations bills, but it was accompanied by numerous other authorization measures and a generous helping of “pork”.

In 2004, HR 2673, yet another Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations Bill, clocked in at 455 pages. Many Democrat Congressmen stood to complain about this bill’s size, and the inability to comprehend it completely.  Representative Brian Baird (D-WA) said, in reference to the bill’s size:

“Mr. Speaker, here is the bill. I hesitate to lift it. I think it is an OSHA violation. This is it.  It became available to us at 12:15 last night. It is less than 12 hours later, and we are going to be voting on this in a very short time. Something is wrong with our democracy.” (Emphasis mine)

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) stood to issue the following complaint:

“Mr. Speaker, this bill comes before us is an omnibus bill because we did not take all the bills, vote on them on the floor, and the Senate did not do it either.”

Mr. Nadler’s comment implies that if an omnibus bill is presented, Congress didn’t do its job properly.  The proper, normal, and reasonable procedure should be to present individual subcommittee bills, each short enough to be comprehensible in the time allowed. Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) expresses her agreement with this concept:

“A lot of mischief can come from a bill that is a $388.4 billion bill, 14.75 inches thick. I measured it, which was filed sometime after midnight. I will guarantee my colleagues not one Member, including the gentleman from Florida, read this bill, even on the Internet…This is wrong. It is the wrong way to do it. It is the wrong way to debate it; and as far as I know, given this massive spending bill that no one has read, as far as I am concerned, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Vote ‘no’ on the rule, vote ‘no’ on the bill.”

But now, when the Democrats are under the gun and a beloved step towards their shining goal of single-payer healthcare is threatened with defunding, suddenly the proper method of multiple smaller bills is a “wacky idea”. It is derided in the media as “piecemeal” and “cherry-picking”, even though it used to be the way it was always done.

Don’t be fooled by the Democrats’ whining. It is normal to break up appropriations bills into smaller, easier-to-handle pieces, it is normal to try to defund things that your party believes are wrong, or may harm the country, and it is normal for both houses of Congress and the President to negotiate over contentious issues. All of this moaning and groaning and petulant refusals to do their jobs are nothing but theatrics, and hypocritical theatrics to boot.

And lastly, I refer back to an earlier post of mine — all of these complaints about the ACA being “the law of the land”, how it got passed (along party lines), and how SCOTUS found favorably for it are nothing but intimidation, intended to keep people from challenging it. NO law is immutable. NO law, even one that SCOTUS has decided upon, is untouchable.

Why is there such worry about who the President appoints to the Supreme Court, whether they’ll be left-wing or right-wing?  Because SCOTUS can revisit decisions and overturn them. The Democrats are always concerned that SCOTUS might swing to the right, and revisit something like Roe v. Wade, just as the Republicans are concerned that SCOTUS might swing to the left and revisit DC v. Heller. When someone says “it’s the law of the land”, you should mentally append “for the time being”, since any law is subject to repeal, modification, regulation, a new SCOTUS case, or having a decision overturned completely.  The court might revisit the ACA…and next time, John Roberts might change his mind, who knows?

Respectfully Submitted.

 

Healthcare Costs: Pay Me Three Times

In the webcomic “Schlock Mercenary”, the spacefaring soldier-of-fortune Kaff Tagon is often seen in a state of sheer bliss by the opportunity to get paid twice for the same job, and getting paid three times sends him into paroxysms of joy. And well it should, because he’s getting paid multiple times for the same work by different people — and it all adds up. So why wouldn’t other mercenaries wish to do the same?  But we don’t have mercenaries, you say, but you would be mistaken — we do. We call them healthcare providers.

The whole issue of providing health care services, from the simple doctor’s office visit to catastrophic hospitalization, has been a study in getting paid more than once for the same job, and any effort to reduce this to a simple, single payment from patient to doctor has been actively opposed. Not by patients, and not even by doctors, but by institutions that surround both and game the medical finance business to line their pockets. It isn’t hospitals that get paid to save your life — that is a difference in degree, not in kind, as the doctors deserve to get paid for their work, and someone needs to pay for the use of the facilities. But a simple patient to provider financial trail is rarely seen.

The excuse is that the costs are so astronomical, no individual could ever pay it without going broke. And nowadays, yes, that’s true.  I spent most of a week in the hospital this summer, just getting a kidney stone under control, and the total bottom-line cost claimed by all of the providers was something on the order of $50,000. But that number is the end-result of a long inflationary spiral, created by the mercenary application of two key concepts: It’s not their money, and charge everything the market will bear.

Let’s be clear, there’s a tendency to see the patient as the market, and once that was actually the case, but in the past 60 years or so, that has changed.  The patient is only the instigator, not the market, because the patient doesn’t PAY the entire amount charged.  In some cases, the patient pays nothing or only a small portion at point of service, and a “premium” over time. Even this premium doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the on-paper cost of most healthcare nowadays. Enter the healthcare facility, the insurance company and at least one government agency as new players, beyond the patient and his or her doctor.

...watch the Queen, watch the pretty lady...
…watch the Queen, watch the pretty lady…

“Reimbursement” is the name of the game, and it has nothing to do with charging the patient for services rendered. It’s about keeping the Queen moving, distracting the mark, palming the money card, bending a corner, or otherwise convincing a mark to play, thinking he can win. In reality, the only ones who win are the dealer and his shills — in a proper game of three-card monte, the mark never wins.

The original system was simple. You get sick, you go to the doctor. The doctor treats you, you pay him cash (or chickens) and you go home. The doctor pays his expenses, and any profit left over is his own pay. The cost was relatively low because it was only one stage, and only one person had to make any profit. (Yes, there are nurses and office staff, they come under the heading of “expenses”, as they aren’t providing the patient with services, they’re providing the doctor with services.)

Around the turn of the 20th century, there was a relatively common health care support system called “Lodge Practice”. This was a cost-sharing system similar to insurance, created by “Fraternal” or “Friendly” organizations such as the Knights of Columbus or the Masons. The lodge member would pay a small fee each month into a common pool. The lodge would contract with a doctor to provide services to its members for a set amount.  Doctors would compete with one another to get the lodge contracts, keeping the price low. Good doctors were in demand, poor doctors didn’t get their contracts renewed — the patients drove the system. In the heyday of lodge practice, when a doctor would generally cost a person one or two dollars a visit, the lodge member would only pay, on average, one or two dollars A YEAR. Lodge practice was actually cheaper than the same care without it, but doctors still got paid a reasonable amount.

Of course, some didn’t like this practice because they felt it made the cost of health care TOO LOW, and they objected to patient riff-raff judging the quality of physicians — so they demanded that Government Do Something. Between the government and the fraternal organizations themselves getting greedy, lodge practice was first made uneconomic, then legislated as illegal. The result was much higher costs due to a lack of competition.

The real Find-the-Queen game begins during World War II, when salaries were frozen. Because giving your employees health insurance was not considered wages, but instead was a separate thing, a “benefit”, it was not subject to the freeze. This was used to reward an employee rather than giving a raise, or used to entice a good candidate to come work for you, or continue to work for you, when it was not legal to simply offer them more money. This is the financial equivalent of sucking the mark into the game — he is convinced that he can win by the dealer and his shills.

Now we have an entirely new game — you pay the insurance company your “premium”, basically a fee to be allowed to play, and you place your wager, usually called a “co-payment”.  Insurance is, when you get down to it, gambling on your health. That’s what actuaries do, they calculate the odds of you getting sick and costing them money. They charge you a playing fee based on how likely or not you are to make a claim — the house percentage, which the house ALWAYS wins. They bank on you sitting around, ogling the cigarette girls, buying overpriced, watered drinks, and eating the hors d’oeuvres. They don’t have to pay anything out for that, in fact, those drinks pay for the munchies and the time and energy to serve you. (An $8.00 mixed drink goes a long way.)

Here’s where the gaming of the system starts. You go to the doctor, you pay your co-payment, see the doctor, go home. The doctor, who used to simply pocket that money and go home himself, files a claim against your insurance for between $150 and $225.  He doesn’t expect to get that much, of course, he knows he’ll only get a percentage, but he figured out what he needs to charge in order to get what he really wants, so he’s happy. Then the insurance company files with a government agency for their OWN reimbursement, again gaming the amount to get what they want. By the time everyone has gotten done filing claims and requesting reimbursement, the cost of that simple doctor’s visit is up around $200. The patient, however, doesn’t pay $200 — he pays what he would have paid originally, without the whole Three-Card Monte mob…and a premium on top.  This entire process takes a $25.00 office visit and inflates it into $200.00 worth of cash shuffling from one account to another. This is not the patient’s money, it’s Someone Else’s Money. The price is inflated as high as the providers can manage, based on What The Market Will Bear. Since the market is not the patient, but insurance companies and government agencies, it will bear quite a lot.  The insurance companies increase their premiums, diddle the copays, and the government agencies levy higher taxes, taking in MORE of Someone Else’s Money, and the process continues.  But still…the patient only got the same service he would have gotten had he paid cash.

Catastrophic cases are not a exception to this process — I paid, out of pocket, about $2,000 for that bout of kidney stones.  This is pretty much what I would have paid, cash, back when insurance companies and government agencies were not involved. I didn’t save a single cent, and paid them for the opportunity to get fleeced. I don’t even escape if I have Medicare, since I paid a “premium” for nearly 40 years for the opportunity to play the game now that I’m disabled. I also pay about $80 a month for a prescription drug plan, to pay between $5 and $75 for each prescription — what the drugs would have cost without the inflation afforded by Someone Else’s Money.

Oh, but the game gets better!  A Three-Card Monte dealer makes the most if he has his own box to set up for his marks, one easily whisked off should the police be seen. He makes less money if he has to split it with someone who will let him use their property, so he’s better served if he has his own place. Now we see a trend building, where healthcare providers (hospitals) are buying insurance companies and issuing their own insurance, or vice-versa, insurance companies buying hospitals and medical practices. Why would they do this?  Easy! To cut down on how many people they have to split the take with!

When the insurance company owns the hospital, it’s like that old Steve Martin routine about “Fred’s Bank”.  Fred has a bank. Actually, it’s just a white suit…you give him a deposit of $50, he puts it in the right-hand pocket.  “You gotta remember that,” Fred says.  The case of insurance owning the hospital takes the white suit one step further. The hospital makes a claim on the insurance…”Fred” takes the $50 and moves it to the left-hand pocket.  All they are doing is paying themselves…with Someone Else’s Money.  They even convince the mark that he’s getting a much better deal, saying they’ve “reduced costs”. They have — they no longer have to split the take as much.  But the patient STILL is only getting the care he would have gotten, had he paid cash.

But where’s the proof? How do I know that it’s just a big, convoluted, paper-chase game of Three-Card Monte?  Because a form of lodge practice is becoming popular again. MedLion is the fastest-growing medical services provider in the country.  They charge a small monthly fee, then your doctor visits are just $10.00.  It seems like insurance, but it isn’t. It’s a simple service fee, to pay them for their efforts to find and enlist physicians.  It’s just like lodge practice — doctors compete to be in MedLion, and the cost goes down.  The fee is fixed, the doctor’s visit is paid in cash, everyone is happy with what they got, and all of the overhead — paying all the shills in the con artist’s mob — has gone away.

Respectfully Submitted.

Sources (Links repaired!):

Hoplophobic Behaviorism: Zero-Tolerance in America

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

I woke up this morning, turned on the radio (ok, it was iHeartRadio on my tablet), and the news happened to be starting. Does that happen to you? You want to hear the show on the station but you always turn it on during the news or a commercial? Happens to me all the time. But this time, it was actually useful, and I didn’t mind, because I found out about this little gem:

The town of Mesa, Arizona was apparently terrorized by this man who insisted on going to a local elementary school with a gun. Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh…some parents called the Principal of Entz Elementary School to complain that their children had seen a man with a gun on the premises, and this disturbed and frightened them.

The school responded by calling the man and asking him not to come armed to the school to pick up his daughter. They also asked him not to wear his police uniform.

That’s right, the man is a police officer, and picked up his daughter in uniform, along, of course, with his legally-required sidearm. Officer Scott Urkov of the Coolidge Police Department was aghast, and posted this to his Facebook page:

“Nothing like your kids school calling and asking if I could not come to pick up my daughter in uniform cause parents were concerned when their kids came home telling them there was a man at school with a gun. Are you freaking kidding me?”

The school called his department in response to this posting, and subsequently, the officer was told to keep his big trap shut about such things. But the genie was out of the bottle, and the story went just a TAD viral. The school did, to their credit, sort of backpedal, and said they didn’t mean to offend the officer, and would treat this as a “teachable moment”, and have him come in to a special assembly and tell the kids what a policeman does in the society.

But even though this seems to have been dealt with, they aren’t dealing with the far more insidious problem underneath the “teachable moments” and special assemblies. No, it’s far worse than that, even though telling a cop not to come to school in uniform, armed, is bad enough.  No, this is simply one of a plethora of cases throughout our country where it is clear that teachers and administrators are engaged in behavioral conditioning of children on the subject of guns.

“That’s crazy,” some of you might be saying. “They’re not ‘conditioning’ kids, they’re just…um…uh…teaching them…uh…”  Yeah, um uh.  Look, here’s the deal. When you take someone, anyone, and every time they do something you don’t like, you punish them, you are to a degree conditioning them.  You’re convincing them that the actions you don’t like will result in a negative sanction. The difference between laws that protect us from bad guys, and efforts to convince bad guys not to be bad are, we agreed to such laws ahead of time by electing the officials who passed them in the first place.

But when it’s kids, who don’t have a say in the matter and can’t reject the input, that’s different. There is a practice among schools of “zero tolerance”, which is supposed to be an attitude that bringing dangerous or illegal objects to school is not acceptable, at all, with no exceptions. The original intent was to keep lawbreaking juveniles from bringing weaponry to school, a concept that sounds, on the surface, to be reasonable. We don’t want juvenile thugs bringing weapons to school and terrorizing the other children or harming teachers, do we?  Of course not, and this isn’t about that.  The “zero tolerance” paradigm has been co-opted by a far more disturbing one: hoplophobia. Teachers and administrators are teaching children to be afraid of anything, any object, any speech, any action or practice, that suggests in any fashion the use of any sort of weapon.  This incident in Mesa, Arizona proves that this conditioning is working.

Look at the series of inane and insane zero tolerance prosecutions across the country:

  • A boy in Harmony, Florida was suspended for a day for playing “cops and robbers”, shaping his hand into a “gun shape”.
  • A fifth-grade girl in Philadelphia was scolded so severely for having a piece of paper torn roughly into an L-shape that she has nightmares. Her grandfather had made the “paper gun” for her the night before. The teacher yelled at her for “bringing a gun to school”. Remember, this was a piece of paper. Her fellow students compounded it by calling her a “murderess”.
  • A 12-year-old boy from Rhode Island was suspended for bringing a keychain in the shape of a derringer, only two inches long, to school. He won the keychain at a local arcade in exchange for game tickets.
  • A Maryland school suspended a 7-year-old for biting a Pop-Tart into a vaguely gunlike shape. The student said he was trying to make it look like a mountain, not a gun, but the teacher who saw it interpreted it as a gun.  This prompted the introduction of “The Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013” in the state, but this bill has not progressed noticeably since a committee meeting in March.
  • Two students in Virginia Beach were given one-year suspensions for playing with airsoft guns on their own property, at home. The school claimed jurisdiction because “there was a bus stop nearby”. Excuse me, there are bus stops everywhere, I know, if I’m driving in the afternoon, those buses stop seemingly every block, making all traffic stop and start.
  • A kindergartener was suspended for telling a friend about her Hello Kitty bubble gun, which shoots harmless soap bubbles. She was treated as if potentially violent, because she actually said she would “shoot” her friend and herself with this clearly dire destructive device.
  • A 6-year-old Palmer, Massachusetts student was suspended for bringing a Lego gun (one of the tiny plastic guns held by Lego figures) onto a school bus. This plastic toy is barely larger than a quarter. We’ve all played with plastic army men that look more threatening.
  • 9-year-old was suspended indefinitely from the Creative Montessori Academy in Southgate, near Detroit. His crime? Showing a friend a top-launcher that was vaguely gunlike — to me, it looks like a Hasbro “Beyblade” launcher, that spins up little tops by squeezing a lever or pulling a cord. The school claimed the child said “bang bang”, but it’s my belief he was simply telling his friend it was for “Beyblade”. This is a toy that has spawned a television cartoon series for children.  I played with tops when I was young, too — “Whizzers” were the thing then, tops with a friction tip you rubbed on a surface to spin up an internal gyroscope.
  • And, the capstone, a Cobb County, Georgia high school senior was charged with a felony: bringing a deadly tackle box to school. The student, an avid fisherman, had two knives, used for fishing, in the box. He was arrested and released on a $1000 bond.

This is only a selection of the most egregious of these cases. But the message is crystal clear: anything that someone in authority perceives to be any sort of weapon, especially a gun, will get you in humongous amounts of trouble, trouble beyond all scope of reason or restraint. The logical and reasonable response in the mind of a child, subjected to this treatment, is to be utterly terrified of anything resembling a gun, or that might possibly be considered to be a weapon. They won’t want to touch one or be near one, much less own one.  This is the core of the problem.

Children grow up to be adults. Adults have full access to their rights, not being limited by parental or in loco parentis, restrictions. What will be the result when these traumatized and conditioned children get to be older, and finally are accorded their legal rights to keep and bear arms?  They will be too afraid of those arms to take advantage of those rights, that’s what! And when people reject a right, that right goes away. The government will be all too happy to remove the 2nd Amendment, or so hedge about it that it is effectively negated, if the next generation is too afraid of “arms” to even touch them.

Hence this program of terrorizing children over anything and everything remotely gunlike or weaponlike — to inculcate in them an active fear, a fear of the devices by which they secure their liberty in perpetuity. They will also be too afraid of them to consider using them defensively. They may not even realize it’s happening — they’ll wring their newly-adult hands, wondering what they can possibly DO to protect themselves from criminals and other violent offenders, their minds automatically shying away from the obvious choice of arming themselves.  This is behavioristic training that Pavlov would easily have recognized. Ring the bell, the kids get scared. Simple and straightforward — the carefully-installed conditioning, making them terrified of guns, will make that choice unthinkable.

That scraping noise you’re hearing, down deep in your soul?  That’s the sound of the Overton Window slowly creeping from “policy” to “unthinkable”. Once it has done that, there will be no obstacle to disarming America, rendering it just as defenseless and just as subjugated as the rest of the world.  Except for those parts of the world that despise us…those parts seem to be quite able to get and handle weapons.  Some of them from our own government.

The episode with the police officer in Mesa, Arizona is the clear result of such conditioning.  The school wasn’t concerned that the officer’s rights may have been infringed upon, either his 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms or his 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech — they wanted it clear they weren’t trying to offend him. Everyone knows about the 52nd Amendment, right, the one that gives us the right to never be offended?  No? Actually, that’s not in the Constitution. There is no right to not be offended. There’s no right to feel safe. The 2nd Amendment accords us the right to make ourselves safe, but this right is under attack by those who don’t want the substance of safety, because that would also carry the responsibility to practice safety. Instead, they want the illusion of safety, simply the emotions associated with being safe, because no one has to be responsible for anything when it’s just an illusion. The children of Entz Elementary School were well trained by the zero-tolerance teachers — they saw a gun, and were appropriately afraid of it.  Now they have the opportunity for a “teachable moment”, to channel that fear so those kids will forever accept a government authority as the only one who should be allowed to have a gun.

We must develop zero tolerance for zero tolerance in our schools, or our children will have zero tolerance for their own rights. Once that has happened, the zero tolerance some in the world have for America will take its toll, and we will have zero defense against it.

Respectfully Submitted.

Just — Power

Shutdowns-in-the-pastThe President recently stated during a speech on October 1, 2013, that the Affordable Care Act (aka “ObamaCare” or “ACA”) was “settled”, and “here to stay”.  Since then, I have seen a number of posts deriding others for saying the shutdown (which I call the “Governocalypse”) was a clear sign that the President and the Democrats don’t want to negotiate.

This in contrast to the many times, 17 in fact since 1976, the US Government has shut down and there have been efforts to work out the difficulties between the aggrieved parties.  Eight of these shutdowns occurred when the Democrat Party controlled both House and Senate, and five of which where the Democrats controlled the entire government, including the President.  (Contrast this with the TWO where the Republicans controlled both House and Senate, but not the Presidency, and the remaining eight where the Democrats controlled only part of the legislature, whether they controlled the Presidency or not.)

This is the first such shutdown EVER in which the President and the Senate refused FLATLY to negotiate at all with the House. The bone of contention? ObamaCare. The opposing party finds it objectionable and wishes to repeal it, defund it, or, at the very least, delay it, depending on who is speaking.  But the opposition is told to “sit down!” and “shut up!” and “forget it!”.  They are called “terrorists” and are said to be “holding the country hostage”, and why?  Because this law is “settled and here to stay.”

Excuse me, Mr. President…

But just because something gets enacted as law, and even when it has been challenged unsuccessfully in SCOTUS, this does not mean a law is “settled” and is “here to stay”. ANY law can be repealed by passing a new law that negates it — that is part of the “checks and balances” nature of our legislative process. It is entirely reasonable, logical, and practical for those in Congress who do not agree with a given law, or believe it does not serve the needs or interests of their constituents (should be the same thing, but frequently isn’t) to work to repeal it or negate it in whole or in part. That is their JOB. If they feel something does not adequately represent the wishes of their constituents, they have a responsibility to work against it. That’s called a “representative republic”, which we are.

It is the height of statist arrogance to say “we won, get over yourselves, we got it, shut up.” The Democrats have NEVER sat still for something enacted they did not like, not once. They ALWAYS continue to fight, even when SCOTUS has either upheld something they disagree with, or declared something they like unconstitutional. Case in point, look at gun ownership — it is in the US Constitution, it is in most State constitutions, there are many laws that protect and secure the rights of people to lawfully own and carry firearms, and there have been plenty of SCOTUS cases that support the individual right to keep and bear arms. But the Democrats continue to scream and lather about restricting the rights of Americans, and trying to either pass restrictive laws or negate laws allowing them. Why aren’t these laws “settled” and “here to stay” as Obama said about ObamaCare? Why are they still considered malleable? Because the Democrats don’t agree with them, or believe they don’t serve the needs and interests of their constituents…and it’s their JOB to oppose such things.

Do I agree with that position? Not in the slightest. I want to keep my rights, and not have them infringed upon by any government action. And I want the efforts of these Democrats to fail…but that doesn’t mean that I think they are wrong to try. They are doing the job they believe is correct, and it is MY right to contact them, or their opponents, and express my wishes. This is how a republic works, and ostensibly protects the rights of the minority position. If we didn’t have this, it would simply be two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

The Democrats and the President do not wish to compromise, meet in the middle, or negotiate ANYTHING with regards to the ACA. They want it exactly as it is, undisturbed, unrestricted, and complete, and will not budge. They have said so publicly.

That same public has overwhelmingly said, time and time again, that they do not want this law. SOME do…and it’s their right to tell their legislators this…but it is utterly disingenuous of Democrats to demand that the Republicans always negotiate, compromise, and meet them in the middle whenever there’s something they want to gain, but now clam up tight. They always say that the Republicans are the “Party of No”…but if you look at the shutdowns as I did above, the Democrats are more intractable, because if they can’t get 100% of something, they will wheedle, coerce, and attack until they get at least part of it, or the government shuts down.

Admittedly, so do the Republicans. If they can’t get 100%, they will do the same to get at least part of what they want, they just have done it less of the time to this degree. And this is exactly, precisely, and completely what they are both supposed to do. They are groups IN OPPOSITION. They are not buddies that always agree with one another, they are opponents.  Every single shutdown has been because of a fundamental disagreement between one part of Congress or the other, or between a part of Congress and the President. NO shutdown has lasted longer than 21 days, the vast majority lasting only 3 days or so, frequently over weekends.

Another complaint was that there should be no negotiation, no compromise, because the ACA was necessary for the country. As for whether the ACA is “necessary”, every country that has something similar has had no end of troubles with it, and the people there hate it. Socialized, national-level medicine is dangerous, overly complex, and MORE expensive, not less.

Remember, the reason they said they were enacting this was to give “access” (translation: free) to “health care”. To quote Inigo Montoya, I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Access does not mean automatic receipt of something for free, it simply means that it is available. Health care is available. Expecting to get valuable services from people and institutions without paying for them is criminally stupid. A thief expects to get things for free, because he is simply taking them from people who have them. This is no different. The money to pay for this “free” healthcare comes from the people who HAVE money, and get it taxed away from them. It isn’t being altruistically given to them at no cost, it ISN’T free (they still have to pay for it), and it isn’t “affordable”, as the government-run exchanges are more expensive than similar coverage used to be privately.

In his October 1 speech, the President claimed that “tens of thousands of people die each year due to a lack of health insurance”.  Not…precisely.  A Harvard study determined that “approximately 44,789 deaths among Americans  [are]. . . associated with lack of health insurance.”  Associated.  That’s the operative word here.  There’s a truism in statistical analysis — correlation (association) does not imply causation.  Most of the comments I’ve seen about this statement since have simply assumed that the President was stating it baldly and correctly, that lack of insurance caused these people to die.  Nonsense.  If you’re eating a cheeseburger and are bitten by a snake and die, the cheeseburger was associated with your death, but did not cause it, the snakebite did. Notwithstanding the one case I know of where a hospital emergency room refused patients who could not pay (violating the law), one where ironically Michelle Obama, David Axelrod, and Valerie Jarrett were contracted to implement an “Urban Health Initiative” by moving Medicare/Medicaid patients to different facilities, it is not difficult to get “health care” if you are unable to pay.  It IS the law of the land as much as the ACA that an emergency room MUST treat you and get you stable, regardless of your financial state.

All of this legislative foofooraw was enacted to give coverage to some 30 million people who didn’t have health insurance for one reason or another. Rather than give those people some subsidized health care plan, thus solving the problem, the Democrats chose to completely change how EVERYBODY gets their health care coverage, even those who didn’t need it changed! Why change it for 400 million people when it’s only 30 million with a problem — 30 million who, after all the dust has settled, still don’t have coverage!  Since the President is wont to refer to our nation’s difficulties using an automotive metaphor, I will too — this is as if, upon discovering that the ash trays in your car are full, you rebuilt the car from the ground up, replacing every single part, and added two extra alternators, four batteries, three superchargers, a spoiler, four banks of fog lights, and gold-plated cup holders, buying everything from the most expensive source, and paying for overnight delivery…instead of simply emptying the ash trays.

Why do that? Because it isn’t about providing affordable health care. It isn’t about keeping people from dying. It especially isn’t about saving people money.

It’s about controlling peoples’ lives, choices, and destinies. It is about POWER. That’s all, just POWER.

Respectfully Submitted.

(Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_shutdown_in_the_United_Stateshttp://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2009/09/new-study-finds-45000-deaths-annually-linked-to-lack-of-health-coverage/http://www.nationalreview.com/article/360157/fact-checking-obama-health-care-patrick-brennan,  http://hotair.com/archives/2009/07/23/video-did-michelle-obama-start-a-patient-dumping-program/)