The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Health Care Debate

I hesitate to add to the furor surrounding the current health care debate, so I'll keep my comments brief. When measuring government programs I have a several basic rules of thumb that I resort to when deciding on their efficacy:
  1. As for program costs, one must remember that official estimates are always underestimates. In other words, the costs always exceed the estimates, and not just by a fraction but by a factor of at least two. You can, therefore, expect the costs, at the very least, to double. In some instances costs have been more than ten times the initial estimates.
  2. A corollary of this is that, regardless of party affiliation, politicians will always lie when the facts don't support their agenda. You see, they simply can't help themselves. Because they are in the public eye, and their every word is recorded on some medium or another, they will carry their agenda to the very gates of hell rather than openly admit they were wrong. Observing this activity can be very amusing. I particularly enjoy trying to predict what verbal means politicians will use to deflect the truth when it's aimed right at them in a public forum. Listen carefully to their responses to challenging questions. Do they answer them with facts, or do they resort to such tactics as changing the subject, attacking the questioner, or answering a totally different question?
  3. If there are particular and possibly controversial elements of the issue under discussion that especially concern you, and these elements are not directly addressed by the program, be warned! They have been intentionally omitted. For example, the fact that the house health care bill does not mention abortion is intentional. Since the bill not does specifically prohibit its support by federal health care funds, when the bill passes the government will go ahead and fund them. This is not a maybe. This is a definite.
  4. If a politician must resort to absurd or misleading examples either to support or to denigrate a program, his position is seriously flawed. A good argument can always be supported by solid examples. For example, watch the below video of the president as he accuses a hypothetical doctor of deciding to remove a child's tonsils instead of treating the sore throat because the surgery would pay more. Doesn't the president realize that the doctor the parent visits for the child's sore throat and the surgeon who will remove the tonsils are two entirely different physicians? Truly an absurd argument...but apparently the only one he had.

Of course, there is one other rule I tend to fall back on when a program sounds too good to be true: It is. The larger the organization, the more bureaucratic is it. The more bureaucratic it is, the more incompetent it is. The federal government is the nation's largest, most bureaucratic, and most incompetent organization. Do you really want to place a collection of incompetent bureaucrats in charge of your health care and the health care of those you love?

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