Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

Debating the health insurance “individual mandate”

Posted by sanityinjection on February 11, 2010

One of the features that is likely to be included in any federal health care reform bill is the “individual mandate” – a legal requirement that every citizen must purchase health insurance or be subject to fines and penalties. This provision is generally seen as an essential part of any plan that expands health insurance coverage to just about everybody as the President and his allies want to do. It is necessary because you need to have the healthiest people – who might otherwise choose to gamble on not buying insurance – participating in the system in order to help pay for the cost of care for those who are sick and need expensive treatments.

A good example of this is the so-called “Massachusetts model” enacted by that state under its former Governor Mitt Romney. In Massachusetts, you are required to provide proof of your health insurance (sent to you by your insurance company) when you fill out your state income taxes. If you cannot do so, you are penalized.

Let us not beat around the bush: If you are forced to pay for something you don’t think you need, in order to subsidize it for somebody else – that is socialism. The individual mandate is the closest thing to the old left-wing goal of “socialized medicine” short of an actual government insurance program or “public option”.

A number of states such as Virginia are taking action to try to pre-empt a federal mandate by passing legislation banning it in their state. While it’s legally questionable whether such laws would actually be valid against a federal law, it is interesting to note that support for the idea is coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

Imagine for a moment you are Bill Gates. Why do you need health insurance? You can afford the cost of even the most expensive health care procedures. You have no incentive to pay monthly premiums against the chance of getting sick or injured. Under an individual mandate, you would be forced to buy health insurance not for your own good, but as a required contribution to the cost of everybody else’s insurance. Unfortunately for everybody else though, Bill Gates’ insurance isn’t necessarily any more expensive than ours, so he is not paying into the system any more than you or I do.

I believe that individual health insurance mandates are wrong in principle. If you have to be compelled to do something that’s supposed to be good for you, maybe it isn’t so good for you. If health care costs were more reasonable, there would not be such pressure to socialize them. Once again, we see that reducing the cost of health care is the most important reform, and that successfully doing so would reduce the need for other reforms. Any reform that achieves some other goal such as expanding coverage but fails to impact the actual cost of health care is essentially doomed to fail.

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Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Brown’s win in Massachusetts is a national game changer

Posted by sanityinjection on January 20, 2010

It would be impossible to overstate the significance of Republican Scott Brown’s surprising win last night in the special election for Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat in Massachusetts. I am speaking not simply of what a GOP win in the bluest of blue states implies about the ability of Republicans to compete in blue districts nationwide, but also the ripple impact that the success of his populist campaign will have in almost every area of American politics. Democrats will be forced to make changes in their thinking as well as Republicans.

Consider the following developments today that can be attributed directly to Brown’s win:

  • The Obama Administration’s embattled nominee to head the TSA, who until now has vigorously resisted calls to step down,  has withdrawn, knowing that Brown represented another likely vote against him.
  • President Obama has instructed Democrats not to try to ram through a health-care bill before Brown can be seated. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House, who until now had been holding out for nationalized health care, are recommending that the Obama Administration start over from scratch with health care reform and pursue a scaled-back compromise approach that can win bipartisan support, knowing that the current bills are effectively DOA with Brown in the Senate: “If there isn’t any recognition that we got the message and we are trying to recalibrate and do things differently, we are not only going to risk looking ignorant but arrogant.” (Rep. Anthony Weiner , D-NY.) What? A bipartisan approach to an issue of major importance? What a strange idea…almost like suggesting that one political party shouldn’t try to ram its own agenda through the legislature!

And folks, that’s in less than 24 hours. Make no mistake about it, the playing field of American politics is vastly different today than it was yesterday. Even Scott Brown could not possibly have imagined this when he first decided to run for the Senate months ago. In my not-so-humble-opinion, this is a great day not just for Republicans, but for everybody who believes that no election should be “safe” and no elected official should be immune from being held accountable to the voters. The Democrats who run for election or re-election in 2010 will do a better job of articulating their views and listening to their voters because of what happened in Massachusetts. The Republicans who run will be better candidates now that qualified individuals believe they can win. And the biggest beneficiaries of all will be the voters, who will get to make real choices between different political policies and philosophies. That’s why turnout in Massachusetts was so high – for once, that Silent Majority of independents knew that their votes would really count and make a difference. And hopefully they will again in November.

To paraphrase a line from an old TV show: It’s 2010…let’s be careful out there.

Disclaimer: I’m personally acquainted with Senator Brown. That’s why I haven’t written about his race until now – I did not want to let my own personal feelings color my judgment. Obviously I’m thrilled for Brown and his family.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

And so it begins: If you’re Christian, you must be psychologically disturbed

Posted by sanityinjection on December 17, 2009

I have commented in this space previously about the ongoing war against religious faith generally, and Christian faith in particular, being waged by the Left in this country. Sadly, one of the chief battlegrounds has been our public schools, where the slightest mention or display by a student of anything like a Christian symbol or belief can be labeled “intolerance of diversity” and constitute grounds for discipline.

Worse news, though, is that the next phase of anti-Christianity has now begun. Unsatisfied with labeling Christians as bigots, the new logic goes like this: Belief in Jesus is irrational and therefore evidence of a psychological problem, which should of course be treated with therapy and drugs until the person becomes a happy, well-adjusted atheist.

If you think this is a wild exaggeration, consider the recent case of an 8-year old boy in Taunton, Massachusetts. In response to an instruction by his teacher to draw something that reminded him of the holiday season, the boy drew a stick figure of Christ on the cross. The teacher and the school administration decided that the appropriate reaction to this outrage was to send the child home from school immediately and force him to undergo a psychological evaluation  – which he passed – before allowing him to return.

The teacher apparently became upset because he or she felt the image was violent, being especially disturbed by the child’s drawing Xs where Jesus’ eyes would be (a common way of representing closed eyes.) The teacher claims the boy said he had drawn himself on the cross. You can judge for yourself how alarming and violent the image is here.

Even taking the teacher’s explanation at face value, I fail to see how a rational person would judge this 8 year old  boy to be a danger to himself or his classmates based on this drawing. If the teacher had concerns about the boy’s home situation, surely that did not require such immediate and drastic action. Needless to say, the poor kid does not understand what he did wrong and has been rather traumatized by the whole business. He will be transferring to another school at the request of his parents.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that it is the teacher rather than the student who should be undergoing a mandatory psychological evaluation. But don’t hold your breath.

Posted in Domestic News, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Posted by sanityinjection on August 26, 2009

For those whose Latin is rusty (or nonexistent), the title of this column means, “About the dead speak nothing but good.” It is in that spirit that I, a long-time and confirmed opponent of the Kennedys, will try to make a few remarks on the passing of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy.

In that light, I am not going to drag up the scandals, the wealth, the ultraliberal voting record or the obvious privileges of being a Kennedy in Massachusetts. You know all that stuff anyway.

Instead I will try to find some positives. One thing I can say about Ted Kennedy is that he was not a crook. In the sense that, I never heard of him involved in any shady financial dealings or selling his influence to the highest bidder. Kennedy was beloved by left-wing special interests, to be sure, but he was not their tool, rather, their hero. He genuinely believed in the causes he espoused, and that allowed him to lead on those issues. Also, from what I hear, he was trustworthy. Republicans who worked with him say that if you made a deal with Kennedy, he stuck to it, and that sense of personal trust also helped him to succeed legislatively where others could not.

Finally, it is common knowledge among the politically savvy in Massachusetts that if you wanted something from a Senator, you called Kennedy, rather than his junior colleague, John Kerry. While the policy differences between the two were insignificant, Kennedy’s office had a reputation for getting back to people and getting things done while Kerry’s office is disinterested and ineffective. That may reflect Kerry’s preference for foreign policy issues, or Kennedy’s ability to attract top-quality staffers. But however it came about, Kennedy was effective, plugged in, engaged in a way his colleague is not. Despite his wealth and famous family, Kennedy was never accused of being aloof like Kerry. He always retained that common touch that is so critical to political success in America.

Kennedy’s legacy will only be enhanced by comparison to the ghastly collection of nonentities that will soon be clamoring to replace him if his nephew Joe decides not to run. Look for Congressman Michael Capuano to be the favorite with his sizable campaign war chest, facing a strong challenge from state Attorney General Martha Coakley and possibly former Congressman Marty Meehan as well.

Say what you want about Kennedy (and I’ve said a lot of unflattering things, none of which I regret): He loved his job, tried hard to be good at it, and the general consensus of historians will be that he succeeded. Many politicians fail because their hubris causes them to aim too high. Kennedy had such a setback in 1980 when he challenged sitting President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic primary. Not only Kennedy but the Democratic Party as a whole suffered as a result. To his credit, Kennedy learned from that mistake and in the next 30 years never sought anything more than to keep getting re-elected to the Senate. If his legacy were to be nothing more than that lesson, it would be one worth studying.

OK, I think I’m about done. I will now grit my teeth and try to endure the next two weeks of cloying, insufferable media sycophancy. Please, let’s move on and talk about something else. Health care reform, anyone? 😉

Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »