R. Justin Shepherd | PART-TIME PUNDIT


Politically incorrect
1.October.2007, 1.42 pm
Filed under: politics

Churchill, I think, said something to the effect of “A young man who accepts conservatism has no heart; a grown man who accepts liberalism has no brain.” At 26, I’m somewhere near the semicolon in that sentence, and my political views are there with me.

Pure opinion, color-coded: I think government has the ability to help people; I also think it enslaves many. I want my government to help the poor; I want the poor to help themselves, as they can, and not to rely on my tax monies. I’m disturbed by an ever-loosening American culture that embraces all kinds of self-destructive living in the name of “tolerance”; I’m convinced, however, that government intervention/legislation isn’t the best way to curb abortion, sexual licentiousness, etc.

Below are some insightful pieces I’ve read in the last bit, which give pause the simplified media-political notion of “liberal vs. conservative” and are, to me, good indicators of a third camp, which thinks these decisions can’t be made in a vacuum, and that the labels do a great disservice to finding reasonable, pragmatic solutions.

• This op-ed piece in the Washington Post, about President Bush finding his veto pen at the bottom of his desk, and his plans to use it to stop passage of an expanded “SCHIP,” a children’s health package that he used to support (before there were Democratic majorities in Congress).

The president laid out the case for his veto at his Sept. 20 news conference. He asserted, to begin with, that the bill involves “taking a program meant to help poor children and turning it into one that covers children in households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year.” Up to is a weasel phrase; for nearly all the children covered by the bill, family incomes would be well below the $83,000 that the president cited. Fully 70 percent would come from families with incomes of less than $41,300, according to a careful study by the Urban Institute…

Bush complained at his news conference that Congress’s proposal “would move millions of American children who now have private health insurance into government-run health care.” Actually, about two-thirds of the 10 million or so children who would be covered by the bill will have no insurance whatsoever if it is vetoed, and many in the other third will suffer gaps in coverage, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The president might want to consider that some schools receiving federal dollars under his No Child Left Behind initiative would have improved without the extra cash. Is that grounds for a veto?

…His real objection to Congress’s proposal is that it represents “an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care.”

Leave aside the fact that the children’s health insurance program is government-financed, not “government-run.” Private insurers administer benefits, and private doctors and nurses deliver them; this is not, as Bush’s spokeswoman charged last week, “socialized-type medicine.” The larger point is that private markets in health care are not necessarily better than the government-run variety.

Given the shocking waste in U.S. health care, it’s embarrassing that Bush still fails to see this. The United States spends nearly twice as much per person on health care as “socialized” Sweden or France, yet Americans’ life expectancy is shorter. The profligate spending comes because doctors and patients make indulgent medical decisions while sticking third-party insurers with the cost. The lower life expectancy reflects not only social factors such as inequality but also the private system’s inability to focus on the prevention of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Bush’s advisers hope that the private system can be made to work better… There are some discretionary procedures, such as Lasik eye surgery, for which this model can work well. But a large share of health spending comes when people face emergencies: when they are sick, scared and about as far from feeling “empowered” as they possibly could be. Moreover, emergencies involve huge hospital bills that consumers are not going to pay out of pocket, even in the Bush team’s shiniest scenario. Catastrophes will always have to be covered by insurers, so consumers’ incentive to control this important component of health-care costs will always be imperfect.

Because there are limits to the empowerment of consumers, there are limits to how well a private health market can function. And that’s before you get to the question of the uninsured, to which the free market has no answer. Some degree of government intervention in health care is therefore inevitable and desirable. It is ideological nonsense to suggest that this intervention displaces an otherwise efficient private market.

This made me laugh, and then made me think… What do Republicans have to say about gay issues? Apparently, nothing. Now, I’m seriously not too concerned about “gay issues,” seeing how there are more substantial people groups—blacks, Hispanics, women—who are still being (to one degree or another) discriminated against. But there are gay people and they do vote, and you’d think the President of the UNITED States should have some idea of how to deal with any issue that’s going on. But, alas…

After being a panelist at the Democratic presidential forum sponsored by the gay Human Rights Campaign and the Logo television channel last month in Los Angeles, I thought it a shame that the major GOP contenders declined a similar opportunity to talk directly to gay voters. So I invited each of them to talk with me for 15 minutes, using questions from the same batch asked of the Democrats.

[NOTE: The writer, a member of the Washington Post editorial board, invited major GOP contenders John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred “Law & Order” Thompson and Rudy Giuliani, who as NYC mayor helped pass what the gay community considers a “breakthrough” on civil unions]

The first request to the campaign press secretaries was made via e-mail on Sept. 5. Hearing nothing, I sent another invitation on Sept. 14. This time I asked, “Could you please let me know your answer by Friday, September 21?” Again, no response. I was hardly surprised. Playing footsie with homosexuals won’t win the candidates any votes with Republican primary voters.

•This, from the NY Times “Caucus” politics blog, on Christian conservatives (a term I absolutely hate, for all that it implies and all that it leaves out) considering a third-party candidate should Rudy “Gay Rights” Giuliani get the GOP nod:

Alarmed at the chance that the Republican party might pick Rudolph Giuliani as its presidential nominee despite his support for abortion rights, a coalition of influential Christian conservatives is threatening to back a third-party candidate in an attempt to stop him.

A revolt of Christian conservative leaders could be a significant setback to the Giuliani campaign because white evangelical Protestants make up a major portion of Republican primary voters. But the threat is risky for the credibility of the Christian conservative movement as well. Some of its usual grass-roots supporters could still choose to support even a pro-choice Republican like Mr. Giuliani, either because they dislike the Democratic nominee even more or because they are worried about war, terrorism and other issues.

In recent polls by the Pew Research Center, Mr. Giuliani has received a plurality of support from white evangelical Protestant voters despite a rising chorus of complaints from Christian conservative leaders about his liberal views on social issues and his unconventional family life. Some players in the movement not present at the meeting may be open to Mr. Giuliani as the lesser of two evils.

Rev. Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcast Network, for example, has provided relatively generous coverage to Mr. Giuliani and his campaign. Gary Bauer, a Christian conservative political advocate and a Republican primary candidate eight years ago, said that, speaking by phone to the meeting, he urged the group to proceed with caution. “I can’t think of a bigger disaster for social conservatives, defense conservatives, and economic conservatives than Hillary Clinton in the White House,” Mr. Bauer said.

Still, he added, “But I do believe there are certain core issues for the Republican Party—low taxes, strong defense and pro life— and if we nominate some who is hostile on one of those three thing it will blow up the GOP.”

…Richard Land, the top public policy official of the Southern Baptist Convention, has said that nominating a Republican candidate who supports abortion rights would make white evangelical votes “a jump ball” between the Republicans and Democrats, with other issues taking the fore.

Many Democrats, including Senator Clinton, are doing their best to soften the edges of their support for abortion rights, emphasizing they favor policies that might reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

But participants in the group that endorsed the resolution said they reached their position hearing an assessment of the state of the Republican primary from Mr. Perkins, who acts as a point man in Washington for the movement. Mr. Perkins told them that Mr. Giuliani could plausibly win the primary if he carried Florida, which is also a state with many conservative Christian voters, and now was the best-chance to stop any momentum behind the campaign.

For me, stuck in Kentucky, the real primary battle will probably be over before I get to vote. I’m rooting for Barack Obama on the Democratic side (that’s what I’m registered, thanks to dear ol’ dad), and hoping against hope that Ron Paul (anti-abortion, anti-tax, anti-war) will win the GOP nomination. Which is pretty much not gonna happen.

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I posted on this the first time i read it. but i hit submit and nothing showed up. what’s up with this site?

Comment by Derek

Don’t you know you’re supposed to type all your comments into Microsoft Word, save early and save often, THEN paste them into the comments box, just in case the ol’ WWW doesn’t do its magic quite right?

BTW, I had similar troubles before, trying to leave comments on your Vox!

Comment by rjustin

whatever dude. vox is perfect.

Comment by Derek




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