RUTH WISSE: THE OPTIMISTIC CONSERVATISM OF PASSOVER

RUTH WISSE: THE OPTIMISTIC CONSERVATISM OF PASSOVER

By Ruth R. Wisse, The Wall Street Journal

I associate conservatism with optimism and its synonyms—hopefulness, sanguinity, positivity, and confidence. American Jews are often associated with a gutted liberalism, but that is a caricature. A more intimate understanding of the Jewish experience connects it to an optimistic conservatism that could help secure America’s future.
Continue reading “RUTH WISSE: THE OPTIMISTIC CONSERVATISM OF PASSOVER”

20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms

20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms
By:  David Hogberg

With House Democrats poised to pass the Senate health care bill with some reconciliation changes later today, it is worthwhile to take a comprehensive look at the freedoms we will lose.

Of course, the overhaul is supposed to provide us with security. But it will result in skyrocketing insurance costs and physicians leaving the field in droves, making it harder to afford and find medical care. We may be about to live Benjamin Franklin’s adage, “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”

The sections described below are taken from HR 3590 as agreed to by the Senate and from the reconciliation bill as displayed by the Rules Committee.

1. You are young and don’t want health insurance? You are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses, and one way to do that is to forego health insurance? Tough. You have to pay $750 annually for the “privilege.” (Section 1501)

2. You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status? Tough. You’ll have to pay for premiums that cover not only you, but also the guy who smokes three packs a day, drink a gallon of whiskey and eats chicken fat off the floor. That’s because insurance companies will no longer be able to underwrite on the basis of a person’s health status. (Section 2701).

3. You would like to pay less in premiums by buying insurance with lifetime or annual limits on coverage? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer such policies, even if that is what customers prefer. (Section 2711).

4. Think you’d like a policy that is cheaper because it doesn’t cover preventive care or requires cost-sharing for such care? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer policies that do not cover preventive services or offer them with cost-sharing, even if that’s what the customer wants. (Section 2712).

5. You are an employer and you would like to offer coverage that doesn’t allow your employers’ slacker children to stay on the policy until age 26? Tough. (Section 2714).

6. You must buy a policy that covers ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services; chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

You’re a single guy without children? Tough, your policy must cover pediatric services. You’re a woman who can’t have children? Tough, your policy must cover maternity services. You’re a teetotaler? Tough, your policy must cover substance abuse treatment. (Add your own violation of personal freedom here.) (Section 1302).

7. Do you want a plan with lots of cost-sharing and low premiums? Well, the best you can do is a “Bronze plan,” which has benefits that provide benefits that are actuarially equivalent to 60% of the full actuarial value of the benefits provided under the plan. Anything lower than that, tough. (Section 1302 (d) (1) (A))

8. You are an employer in the small-group insurance market and you’d like to offer policies with deductibles higher than $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families? Tough. (Section 1302 (c) (2) (A).

9. If you are a large employer (defined as at least 101 employees) and you do not want to provide health insurance to your employee, then you will pay a $750 fine per employee (It could be $2,000 to $3,000 under the reconciliation changes). Think you know how to better spend that money? Tough. (Section 1513).

10. You are an employer who offers health flexible spending arrangements and your employees want to deduct more than $2,500 from their salaries for it? Sorry, can’t do that. (Section 9005 (i)).

11. If you are a physician and you don’t want the government looking over your shoulder? Tough. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to use your claims data to issue you reports that measure the resources you use, provide information on the quality of care you provide, and compare the resources you use to those used by other physicians. Of course, this will all be just for informational purposes. It’s not like the government will ever use it to intervene in your practice and patients’ care. Of course not. (Section 3003 (i))

12. If you are a physician and you want to own your own hospital, you must be an owner and have a “Medicare provider agreement” by Feb. 1, 2010. (Dec. 31, 2010 in the reconciliation changes.) If you didn’t have those by then, you are out of luck. (Section 6001 (i) (1) (A))

13. If you are a physician owner and you want to expand your hospital? Well, you can’t (Section 6001 (i) (1) (B). Unless, it is located in a country where, over the last five years, population growth has been 150% of what it has been in the state (Section 6601 (i) (3) ( E)). And then you cannot increase your capacity by more than 200% (Section 6001 (i) (3) (C)).

14. You are a health insurer and you want to raise premiums to meet costs? Well, if that increase is deemed “unreasonable” by the Secretary of Health and Human Services it will be subject to review and can be denied. (Section 1003)

15. The government will extract a fee of $2.3 billion annually from the pharmaceutical industry. If you are a pharmaceutical company what you will pay depends on the ratio of the number of brand-name drugs you sell to the total number of brand-name drugs sold in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the brand-name drugs in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2.3 billion, or $230,000,000. (Under reconciliation, it starts at $2.55 billion, jumps to $3 billion in 2012, then to $3.5 billion in 2017 and $4.2 billion in 2018, before settling at $2.8 billion in 2019 (Section 1404)). Think you, as a pharmaceutical executive, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 9008 (b)).

16. The government will extract a fee of $2 billion annually from medical device makers. If you are a medical device maker what you will pay depends on your share of medical device sales in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the medical devices in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2 billion, or $200,000,000. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for R&D? Tough. (Section 9009 (b)).

The reconciliation package turns that into a 2.9% excise tax for medical device makers. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 1405).

17. The government will extract a fee of $6.7 billion annually from insurance companies. If you are an insurer, what you will pay depends on your share of net premiums plus 200% of your administrative costs. So, if your net premiums and administrative costs are equal to 10% of the total, you will pay 10% of $6.7 billion, or $670,000,000. In the reconciliation bill, the fee will start at $8 billion in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015, $1.9 billion in 2017, and $14.3 billion in 2018 (Section 1406).Think you, as an insurance executive, know how to better spend that money? Tough.(Section 9010 (b) (1) (A and B).)

18. If an insurance company board or its stockholders think the CEO is worth more than $500,000 in deferred compensation? Tough.(Section 9014).

19. You will have to pay an additional 0.5% payroll tax on any dollar you make over $250,000 if you file a joint return and $200,000 if you file an individual return. What? You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9015).

That amount will rise to a 3.8% tax if reconciliation passes. It will also apply to investment income, estates, and trusts. You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Like you need to ask. (Section 1402).

20. If you go for cosmetic surgery, you will pay an additional 5% tax on the cost of the procedure. Think you know how to spend that money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9017).

America Ferrera – Ugly Betty becomes ugly

America Ferrera – Ugly Betty becomes ugly

America Ferrera, who plays Ugly Betty on a successful new TV series was born in Los Angeles in 1984 of Honduran parents. She grew up in the West Valley in a well-to-do middle class neighborhood and enjoyed all the benefits and opportunities of growing up in the United States. She attends the University of Southern California and majors in Theater Arts and International Relations.

She has enjoyed a life of freedom to pursue whatever she wanted to achieve in life and has attained both success and celebrity.

Despite the opportunities she has enjoyed, especially when compared with the opportunities available to the people of Central America, where her family is from, she feels that America is not free and won’t be free until Bush is gone.

Brent Baker reports on Newsbusters the following dialogue at the Independent Spirit Award ceremony on February 24th:

Zach Braff: “You know America, here’s a little interesting tidbit you probably don’t know about me. My middle name is Israel. We’re both named after countries. “

America Ferrera: “Wow, that is interesting.”

Braff: “So do you think that you have any traits in common with the country that is your namesake?”

Ferrera: “Well, you know, I mean I guess I’m a free-spirited person and America’s supposedly the ‘land of the free,’ right?”

Braff: “Well, I guess.”

Ferrera: “Or at least, we will be in 2008.” [loud applause] Well how about you, Zach, I mean do you have anything in common with Israel?”

Braff: “Let me see. Well, I’m predominantly Jewish, I’m very hot and all of my neighbors hate me. So yeah.” [audience laughter]

One often wonders why spoiled Hollywood lefties who have enjoyed every advantage can even imply in any way that there is not freedom in America. A requisite for being a Hollywood success must be that you have to hate America.

My wife loves the show, but now neither she nor I will be able to watch Ugly Betty without thinking that ungrateful America Ferrera hates America, our country.

Read more and see the video at Newsbusters.

 

No Voter Left Behind

No Voter Left Behind

My friend, Bob Rosebrock, makes an excellent case in an article about the how the HOV lane on our freeways not only causes more traffic and congestion, but is clearly undemocratic, gives preferential treatment to a special class of drivers and denies equal access to public transportation. He calls for opening the HOV lane to all drivers on election day – November 7th to allow voters a free flow of traffic so they can make it to the polls.

I agree. Let’s all get behind opening the HOV lane to all drivers on Election Day and see how traffic is really improved. Read his article below. It makes a lot of sense.

 

NO VOTER LEFT BEHIND

“Freedom of the Freeway”

By Robert L. Rosebrock

 

Of the many privileges we enjoy as a democratic society, ‘freedom to vote’ is paramount for our country’s survival. Equally important for our personal survival is ‘freedom of movement,’ because without it we could not travel to and from work or accomplish a multitude of our endeavors, including going to the polling station to vote.

To ensure that our citizenry has accessible maneuverability, it is a primary function of government to facilitate our public freeway system so that all motorists have uniform liberty to mobilize his or her self in their pursuit of happiness. To the contrary, our individual mobility has been seriously curtailed under California’s Transportation Control Plan that was implemented more than thirty years ago. As a result, our freeway traveling is unjustly regulated with an ideological‘wall of separation’ that discriminates against millions of motorists based simply on passenger or vehicle preference.

This restrictive barrier is the preferential-treatment carpool lane, also known as the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) law, which rewards special driving privileges to motorists that have a single passenger or drive alone in a hybrid car. And for those motorists who do not or cannot conform to this doctrine, they are unfairly penalized with inferior driving conditions. Such laws are inequitable, divisive and contradictory to the basic principles of democracy and violate America’s trusted creed of “With Liberty and Justice for All.”

We must never forget that there’s a big difference between equal opportunity and equal treatment. In his book “My American Journey,” former Secretary of State General Colin Powell rightfully declared: “Equal rights and equal opportunity mean just that. They do not mean preferential treatment.” But why doesn’t our government practice this?

Protecting Our Civil Liberties

In a democracy, civil rights are granted to each person and it is government’s duty to provide equal privileges and opportunity for each member of its citizenry. According to the definition provided by www.dictionary.law.com, “Civil rights include the right to vote, the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a democratic society, such as equal access to public schools, recreation, transportation, public facilities, and housing, and equal and fair treatment by law enforcement and the courts.”

More than two centuries ago, Andrew Jackson summarized the great American ideal as “Equal opportunity for all and special privileges for none.” A half-century ago, Chief Justice Earl Warren declared that “Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”

Correspondingly, California’s state freeway system belongs to all motorists and entitles each driver with the same equal access and privileges afforded to all. Our Constitution’s 14th Amendment declares: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United State … nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Separate and Unequal

The State of California has approximately 19 million motorists that drive alone in standard vehicles, either out of personal choice or absolute necessity. Yet despite these individual preferences or uncontrollable circumstances, they are unfairly separated by law and left behind in oppressive gridlock.

In a ruling prior to her recent retirement from the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that, “We rejected the notion that separate can ever be equal 50 years ago in Brown vs. Board of Education, and we refuse to resurrect it today.”

Let there be no misunderstanding; the divisive diamond lane doctrine not only defies the forbidden “separate but equal” laws of yesteryear, but it embarrassingly exceeds them with the “separate and unequal” driving conditions of today.

Freedom of Movement is a Human Right

As equal members of the human race, we each have certain human rights that are God-given. Eleanor Roosevelt declared that, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person, the neighborhood he lives in, the school or college he attends, the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”

On the day of his tragic death on November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was to deliver a speech that prophetically proclaimed: “It should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future.”

Ronald Reagan reminded us that, “We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings. So states the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Correspondingly, On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the following: Article 13. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Article 21. (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

This U.N. Declaration notwithstanding, less than thirty years later California established and continues to rigidly enforce a law that controls and restricts the freedom of movement of motorists without a passenger or a hybrid car by denying them equal access onto the public-funded diamond lane.

Even though individual human and civil rights are paramount to the survival of a free and democratic society, California’s state government has established a dual-tiered system of privilege and abuse on our public-funded freeway system. Even more troubling is that ‘we the people’ allow these bureaucrats to impose this cruel injustice upon our personal lives by denying us of our equal human rights and as full citizens of the United States.

Freeway Torture

There has been much controversy about the treatment of Al Qaeda terrorist prisoners being held under the control of our Federal government at Guatanamo, Cuba. Based on various accusations, Congress passed new anti-torture laws to especially protect these terrorists, even though their devout mission is to kill every American citizen.

Since freeway motorists are technically under the control of our government, will this new anti-torture law also protect us from “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” on the freeway? Consider that our State government prejudicially segregates, detains, degrades and humiliates millions of innocent freeway motorists every day simply because they do not have a passenger or drive a hybrid car. As a result, these American motorists are held against their will and force-fed insufferable gridlock while being kept in physically stressful positions for hours in isolated and sub-standard traffic lanes.

This undignified treatment against our fellow Americans makes you wonder where the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other human rights attorneys are when we really need them. There’s an ongoing effort by the ACLU and others parties to close down Guatanamo for purported inhumane treatment to the terrorist prisoners. Among those calling for the prison to be closed is former President Jimmy Carter, who said, “The United States should shutter the detention center as an illustration that it is committed to protecting human rights.”

That’s a noble request from a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Accordingly, if we’re really serious about closing the Guantanamo camp because of ‘human rights violation’ against terrorist prisoners, then let’s get equally serious and close the HOV diamond lane for the very same reason to protect America’s solo-motorists.

Freeway Aristocracy

During the 2003 Governor’s recall election, Arnold Schwarzenegger offered this compelling campaign pledge: “We have the capacity to create more highway capacity in just the areas where it is most needed without spending another penny. We must convert the High Occupancy Lanes to free flow lanes, so that all the taxpayers who paid for those lanes and are now sitting in traffic jams can use them.”

Make no mistake, this inspiring promise helped to get him elected. Then, like so many politicians, he failed to deliver on his pledge. To make matters worse, he signed a controversial law that unfairly grants hybrid motorists with the exceptional privilege of driving alone on the carpool lane.

Thus, with the stroke of his pen, Governor Schwarzenegger established an elitist ‘hybrid aristocracy’ on our public freeway system that creates economic injustice for those who cannot afford a hybrid car and social injustice for those who choose not to own such a vehicle.

A Vote For Equal Opportunity

Congress recently extended the federal Voting Rights Act that guarantees equal rights to all voters. Unfortunately, California voters will never have the same equal access at the voting booth until there is the same equal access on the drive to the voting booth. As long as there is a diamond lane that divides and rewards a few motorists with free-flowing driving privileges while the majority are penalized and left behind, equal voting rights will remain a fantasy.

“Freedom of the Freeway”

It’s time for Governor Schwarzenegger to honor his original pledge by opening the HOV lanes on Election Day so that all registered voters will share the same equal opportunity in their drive to the polling station as they’re entitled to at the polling station. Then leave them open, just as they were originally designed and built a half-century ago with equal access and use by all motorists alike.

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.

The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and Senators

and Congressmen and Government officials, but the voters of this country.

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Rosebrock is author of his soon-to-be released book, “Freedom of the Freeway.” You can write him at: RLRosebrock1@aol.com