Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is It Just Me?

Nuggets For The Noggin
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, September 2009
Can we agree that America is being torn apart by politics and politicians drawing lines in the sand? This Nugget is NOT about politics but instead about a seemingly insignificant vote taken by the Senate Finance Committee on September 23, 2009 that clearly demonstrates the arrogance of our elected officials.

No one can turn on the news of late and not see the angry debates, name calling and the massive town hall meetings not to mention the September 12th march on Washington. Lost in all the hysteria is that Americans seem to be growing in their mistrust of their own government to do the right thing whatever that may eventually prove to be.

But let’s be honest, despite your political leanings, half the country is FOR the health care as being discussed by Washington and half the country is AGAINST the health care as being discussed.

This is where the arrogance of our U. S. Senate was displayed in full color. While ridiculous speeches are being given at the United Nations that go on and on and say nothing and the national news media waits on each word spoken, the Senate Finance Committee quietly voted 12 to 11 NOT TO PUT THE MOST CURRENT VERSION OF THE HEALTH CARE BILL ONLINE. THEY VOTED NOT TO MAKE IT AVAILABLE TO PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME. Instead they want to post a “summary” of the bill and whenever someone puts forth a summary, they typically tell you ONLY what they want you to know. Any intelligent person can understand that when something that SHOULD be public is kept SECRET there are things in the bill that the Senate does not want you to see or hear. Is that the American way?

Unfortunately this vote came down almost entirely on party lines. All Republicans voted against it and wanted to make the bill public for 3 days prior to the committee voting on it; and, all the Democrats except one, voted to keep the bill private and post only a summary.

I have a new American Hero, Senator Blanche L. Lincoln, a Democrat from Arkansas. She had the courage and conviction to “do the right thing” and to make the bill public but unfortunately she was the only one on the Democratic side to do the right thing. There was absolutely no harm involved in posting the entire bill to the Internet. Personally I doubt seriously that I would read the thousands of pages of the bill and I feel that most Americans would not as well; but they could if they desired to. That is the important point of this Nugget. Why would you not make the bill available unless there was something to hide?

I don’t know the entire story about how Nero fiddled while Rome burned but that is what our elected officials appear to be doing; at least to me. The country has never been this divided since the Civil War and our politicians are “fiddling while the country is burning” (a figure of speech).

While in the Coast Guard (a government employee), I was taught that if you want something to be approved, you make your report massive, too massive for most people to read. The thought being that since so much “apparent” work went into the report, it must be right. This is the exact principle we are seeing at work in Washington as I write this Nugget.

I would never be mistaken as being a genius but resolution of the health insurance problem is quite simple (notice I did not say health care because there is no better health care in the world than what we have in America, this is a health insurance/coverage issue):

1. Break the issue down to its smallest segments.
2. Determine what steps can be agreed upon by the majority of Americans as represented by our Congress and Senate.
3. Take whatever actions that do not need a vote like targeting corruption within the HealthCare system and demonstrate to voters that tax dollars CAN be saved by oversight. As stated, this does not take a vote in Washington.
4. Create a short easily understood bill that addresses one corrective measure at a time that CAN be agreed upon and then voted on; approve and implement that one segment of the Health Care problem.
5. The more complex issues of the proposed bill can then be addressed one at a time by both houses and the President; surely they can come to some kind of agreement on the correct actions to be taken and it should not be implemented by only Democrats voting to approve it or only Republicans voting to approve it with no crossover votes whatsoever.

As an example to this principle I offer State restricted health insurance. Health Insurance Companies are restricted from writing policies outside of their state borders. That restricts competition. Competition usually makes businesses more competitive in their pricing. Removing these barriers from Health Insurers should make their premiums lower and more affordable. Why has this has not happened? Government regulations for no apparent logical reason. A stroke of the pen can change this practice immediately without 1000+ pages to accomplish it – yet this provision has not been included in any of the proposed Health Care Bills – go figure. This is just one example that should be a no-brainer! Makes me wonder if any of our elected officials in all parties have a brain to think with.

I hate to use the analogy but we (America) have put a man on the moon yet we cannot get 535 representatives to agree on anything but partisan issues. How sad!

I would be remiss if I did not describe my personal first hand knowledge of not being able to trust our government to do the right thing. I joined the military in 1965 for a four year term. We all were told, all branches of the military, that the military is a great career. Stay until retirement and you and your immediate family will be provided free health and dental care for the rest of your lives. At the time and throughout most of my 20 year military career, members took this life-long benefit into consideration when it came time to elect to stay in the military or leave. It was a significant consideration, at least for me, in the 60’s and 70’s and I decided to stay; more because I like and enjoyed what I was doing but partially because of the cost savings of free health and dental care into my retirement years.

I can tell you that life-long free health and dental care DID NOT HAPPEN. Millions of military members served and retired only to find out that their government has betrayed them by NOT providing free health and dental care in their retirement years. Granted we did not have specific contracts in place that identified the benefits offered; we felt it was our government, why would you need a contract? We needed a contract! In the case of the Government, there is no one person whose “word” was at risk; instead it was a collective “word” of the entire bureaucracy; no one was responsible for violating its military. This is one of the best kept secrets in America.

When you are considering the various Health Care Bills being offered and you apply what they “say” (the government) and what the bill will do for YOU in the future, keep in mind your military retirees and be very careful what you ask for – as in the case of our country’s military members, you may get something entirely different than what our government is telling you regardless of what side of the political spectrum you happen to fall on. Me? I tend to vote for the person I feel I can trust, regardless of party affiliation but who also shares some of my core believes and values until that person proves me wrong. Unfortunately finding a trustworthy politician is extremely difficult if not down right impossible.

I would suggest all our politicians take a lesson from Gary Keller from The Millionaire Real Estate Agent:


What a concept!

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