Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Government is not enough to rebuild a broken society

original article: Why America Will Not Solve Its Existential Crisis Without A Rebirth Of Faith
November 8, 2017 by Emilie Kao

Country music legend Johnny Cash had hit rock bottom. Exhausted by his struggle with drug addiction, he literally crawled into a cave to die. But then, as he described it later, a feeling of tranquility came over him and drew him back from the brink: “There in Nickajack Cave I became conscious of a very clear, simple idea: I was not in charge of my destiny. I was not in charge of my own death. I was going to die at God’s time, not mine.”

Cash’s spiritual awakening gave him new hope. His story of redemption rings true among countless Americans who credit faith with helping them overcome addiction and other self-destructive behaviors.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of Americans are living only the earlier part of Cash’s story—the misery, futility, and sense of hopelessness. The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Culture and Opportunityreports that Americans are now four times more likely to die from opioid overdose than in 1999. Teens are 13.5 percent more likely to use drugs than in 2006, with just under a quarter of high school seniors reporting drug use last year. President Trump was right to recognize that the opioid crisis is really a national emergency.

The suicide rate has risen so sharply that the overall life expectancy of Americans is declining for the first time since the 1930s. Meanwhile, the marriage rate continues to decline. A likely related trend is the unemployment of young men, which has doubled in the last 15 years.

Money and Programs Can’t Provide Existential Meaning

Clearly, many Americans are stressed out—economically, emotionally, and psychologically. But what ails America cannot be remedied with just money or counselling. A genuine cure must include cultural revival in which religious communities come alongside individuals and families to reweave the frayed ends of broken relationships. Empirical research demonstrates that religion contributes to individual and societal prosperity. In his book, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” J.D. Vance shows how religion can help generate holistic flourishing.

Like Cash’s story, Vance’s memoir brings to life the statistics about divorce, domestic violence, and drug addiction. He credits his own upward trajectory to acquiring “social capital.” Through personal networks, he learned “soft skills” like conflict resolution and financial management that fueled his upward mobility. He cited both the military and churches as critical institutions that form social capital.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber’s research has demonstrated a causal connection between children’s church attendance and their ability to stay off drugs and out of prison. After analyzing religious attendance, Gruber also observed an “incredibly strong correlation” with higher education, more stable marriages, higher income, and lower likelihood of being on welfare. A study at Harvard showed that those who attend religious services at least once a week are five times less likely to commit suicide.

A Commitment to Morality Increases Social Trust

The role of faith in preventing and treating opioid addiction is increasingly evident. New Hampshire and West Virginia present a contrast in addiction and religiosity. New Hampshire confounds purely economic explanations of addiction, since it has both high employment and high addiction. It doesn’t fit in well with mainstream media narratives, but states like West Virginia, Utah, and those in the Deep South have both high levels of religiosity and low levels of addiction.

As the Trump administration builds a strategy to combat this public health emergency affecting 21 million Americans, it should consider not only criminal punishments and opioid alternatives, it should also take into account the empirical evidence of faith’s role as seen in the states. Similar to Gruber’s observations about faith’s effects in the lives of individual Americans, a Chinese economist saw faith’s effects on business transactions in America’s national economy. Zhao Xiao traces America’s prosperity back to the Puritans.

He sees a relationship between their transcendental motives and a high degree of personal integrity, which generated trust and minimized friction in economic transactions. Zhao’s research has influenced policymakers in the Chinese Communist Party, who are increasingly emphasizing the role of morality in fostering trust.

Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen also attributes America’s economic success to civic virtues religious communities teach, such as obedience to the law, respect for private property, and honesty. While earlier generations created the cultural momentum that led to American prosperity, Christensen warns that momentum is dissipating as religious belief wanes: “If you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police”

Religion Is Important for a Thriving Country

The importance of personal virtue for society is something Vance takes seriously. He urges Americans to incorporate cultural causes into our discussions of the structural factors that contribute to poverty. When individuals feel hopeless, marriages dissolve, and children get caught up in families’ breakdown, government solutions are not enough to make up the difference. Religious communities, however, are there when life falls apart.

Just how critical are religious organizations to the fabric of American life? Religious networks provide $161 billion in medical services annually. Religious schools and colleges provide $138 billion in education. Religious charities contribute $95.2 billion, religious businesses $438 billion, and religious congregations $326 billion. Eliminate religious organizations, and Americans would lose $1.2 trillion in services.

Communities also benefit greatly from partnerships between government and religious groups. Consider the relief efforts needed to deal with natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Nonprofits provide 80 per cent of recovery efforts, and they are mostly faith-based. But faith is equally as powerful in less visible day-to-day interactions. In Gadsden County, Florida, partnerships between faith leaders and city officials have transformed programs in women’s prisons and schools.

In the words of the town sheriff, “We cannot incarcerate our way out of crime. When all else fails, you sometimes have to appeal to the spiritual side of offenders.” Local churches in Gadsden send members to teach inmates the Bible and life skills. Other churches help find jobs and housing for newly released inmates. Gadsden County’s story is one of countless examples showing the “spiritual capital” that religion provides on top of its tremendous economic value—more than that of Facebook, Google, and Apple combined, according to the research of Brian Grim.

Faith Provides Private Accountability We All Need

Faith infuses lives with greater meaning, and faith communities help us make and keep wise commitments. They help us to stay engaged in the lives of our spouses, children, and friends. They help us to stay in school and at jobs when we might prefer to quit. Most of us are more likely to keep commitments when others help. But this kind of accountability, which requires face-to-face contact over a long period of time, is not something the government is well-equipped to provide.

Religious communities help parents raise their children. They provide counseling to individuals while they are dating, after they get married, and even when they lose a spouse. They provide assistance, loans, and job contacts to those who are unemployed. And they are a source of encouragement and hope for people desperate to stay out of addiction.

The American Dream is still alive, but it needs renewal. Government can help. But it takes communities of faith to fully rebuild what has been broken and to restore hope where it’s been lost.

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crisis, culture, economy, ethics, family, ideology, religion, study, unintended consequences

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The political left can’t tell the difference between fantasy and real life, and doesn’t care to

original article: The media doesn’t understand guns — and doesn’t want to
October 4, 2017 by Stephen L. Miller

The American political left and mainstream media pundits at large do not understand guns. They are not educated about them and they refuse to learn about them. They could not tell you the difference between an automatic or semi-automatic firearm. They don’t understand what a suppressor does or does not do. It’s safe to say most of them have not heard the term “bump stock” until this week.

What they are, however, is convinced that we need more laws to prevent mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas from happening ever again – and they will host guest after guest on their shows who are not experts in firearms, or firearm training, to lecture the American public at large about why this needs to happen.

If anyone out there on that side of the aisle is wondering why your pleas to “do something” are falling on mostly deaf ears,that would be why.

Democrats would be better off offering up legislation banning high-rise hotels in attempting to make a connection to the Las Vegas shooting than they would suppressors or background checks

It’s a largely one-sided debate happening on cable networks, and it is why those on the right – including everyday Americans and lawful gun owners not responsible for mass shootings or breaking gun laws – largely ignore what is blaring out at them from their televisions and social media.

Column after column is fired off about how much the National Rifle Association donates to congressional candidates (spoiler: it’s not much, about 200K a year). For every breathless declaration that the NRA has blood on their hands, it’s worth noting more journalists have committed mass shootings in this country than NRA members.

Firearm experts in media such as Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski (also an NRA-certified instructor), National Review Online Editor Charles Cooke and Federalist co-founder Sean Davis are sidelined from national cable news and Sunday show appearances in favor of guests who suggest suppressors are used by hunters to prevent deer from hearing a fired shot. Gutowski, Cooke and Davis will never be invited on Jimmy Kimmel or Stephen Colbert’s shows to clear up the falsehoods being spread to mass audiences or to defend the second amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Las Vegas narrative jumped to ludicrous speed shortly after the massacre ended when losing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton demanded that we “put politics aside” right before immediately politicizing the shooting in the same tweet. She then went on to state, “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.” Mrs. Clinton’s claim that firearm suppressors render guns “silent” was given three Pinnocchios by Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post. This of course didn’t matter. Kessler’s fact check went mostly ignored on social media. Clinton’s false tweet about firearm suppressors garnered more than 58,000 retweets on Twitter. Glenn Kessler’s fact check? Thirty.

Kimmel chastised Paul Ryan and the GOP Congress for not enforcing laws about guns that literally do not exist.

Within hours of the Las Vegas shooting, Senator Chuck Schumer was pushing the narrative that the GOP was ramming through legislation to de-regulate silencers. This was also a fabrication. Reporters began shouting questions at Paul Ryan about “Silencer” legislation. The 64-year-old shooter in Las Vegas did not use a suppressor but Democrats have found their shiny object to fixate on – much like the no-fly list post-Orlando – which had nothing to do with the actual tragedy at hand.

Democrats would be better off offering up legislation banning high-rise hotels in attempting to make a connection to the Las Vegas shooting than they would suppressors or background checks.

America’s foremost health care expert, Jimmy Kimmel, once again repeated long-debunked Democrat talking points in another tearful monologue (Las Vegas is his hometown so it’s hard to berate him for showing emotion). Kimmel chastised Paul Ryan and the GOP Congress (again) for not enforcing laws about guns that literally do not exist. These include the so called “gunshow loophole,” an online background check loophole and allowing mentally ill individuals (a move supported by the ACLU) from purchasing firearms. All of these claims have been debunked and yet are ignored by fact-checkers at mainstream outlets and cable news pundits. Stephen Paddock did not have a criminal background, prior record and no evaluations of suspect mental health. So what then?

New York Times Magazine’s Ana Marie Cox tweeted “Man, imagine if the right believed in unfettered access to the ballot box as much as they believed in the right to own guns.” Her sudden support of background checks and voter ID laws (two things needed to purchase a firearm in America) are a welcome surprise.

Politico reporter Dan Diamond tweeted out an email announcement from The American College of Physicians calling for a ban on all automatic and semiautomatic weapons. What Diamond did not reveal is a ban on semiautomatic weapons would include most handguns. I’m not sure members of media know this fact, and more importantly, have demonstrated zero willingness to learn. But sure, let’s put them in charge of the health care debate.

And this is where the credibility chasm exists in media as they continue to parrot Democrat narratives on guns. As the sun rose on Vegas the morning after, and before Americans could grasp the facts of what had happened, Democrat leaders including Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer and their celebrity Hollywood base were already pointing fingers and placing blame without facts and without knowledge.

Law-abiding, gun-owning Americans will not be lectured to about a national tragedy they had nothing to do with, and they certainly won’t be lectured by elitists in media who refuse to understand even a basic grasp or terminology about a sacred constitutional right.

And until they do, we will refuse to have that “conversation” the left and the media keep telling themselves needs to happen.

bias, corruption, crisis, culture, Democrats, ethics, government, gun rights, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, legislation, liberalism, nanny state, pandering, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, regulation, second amendment, tragedy

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Gun control advocate: blanket gun control not the answer

original article: Statistician Who Championed Stringent Gun Control Now Argues Against It After Studying Data
October 3, 2017 by HANK BERRIEN

Writing in The Washington Post, Leah Libresco, a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, the site run by famed statistician Nate Silver, admits that she reversed herself on gun control, evolving from blaming the NRA for gun deaths to realizing more stringent, blanket gun control was not an answer to gun deaths.

Libresco starts by confessing that before she started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate her, and she blamed the National Rifle Association for blocking the banning of assault weapons, restricting silencers, and shrinking magazine sizes.

Then she started analyzing data from the roughly 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and a light bulb went on. She writes that when she examined the evidence, “The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.”

Notably, Libresco dismisses the oft-stated myth that the tight gun laws in Britain and Australia had any relevance for America, as she writes, “Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans.”

Libresco continues, “When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an ‘assault weapon.’ It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.”

Libresco notes, “Silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer.”

Some more reality: “Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them.”

Segueing to the next-largest set of gun deaths, young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides, and the tertiary set, women killed (mostly as the result of domestic violence), Libresco decides, “Few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.”

Libresco writes, “I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. … I found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions.”

Suggestions?

Older men, who make up the largest share of gun suicides, need better access to people who could care for them and get them help. Women endangered by specific men need to be prioritized by police, who can enforce restraining orders prohibiting these men from buying and owning guns. Younger men at risk of violence need to be identified before they take a life or lose theirs and to be connected to mentors who can help them de-escalate conflicts.

Libresco concludes: “We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.”

crisis, culture, government, gun rights, public policy, reform, science, tragedy
 

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Medicalized killing. What could possibly go wrong?

original article: Dutch euthanasia getting so out of hand that even assisted-death docs want to hit the brakes
July 5, 2017 by Doug Mainwaring

An advertisement taken out in a major newspaper in the Netherlands by more than 200 Dutch doctors begins, “[Assisted suicide] for someone who cannot confirm he wants to die? No, we will not do that. Our moral reluctance to end the life of a defenseless man is too great. ”

The doctors, many of whom currently serve as assisted-suicide providers, are objecting to the unchecked growth of euthanasia in their country, where people who have reduced mental capacity due to dementia are being euthanised.

Current law allows doctors to euthanize without verbal consent if a written declaration of will has been provided in advance. In addition, a doctor has to also first determine that the patient is undergoing unbearable suffering. But with reduced mental capacity, patients are often unable to confirm that their former request to be euthanized — executed perhaps years earlier — is still valid.

A turning point

Alarm bells began to sound for these doctors a few years ago when an elderly woman was euthanized against her will.

The 80-year-old suffered from dementia. She had allegedly earlier requested to be euthanized when “the time was right” but in her last days expressed her desire to continue living.

Despite changing her mind about ending her life, her doctor put a sedative in the her coffee. When that wasn’t enough, the doctor enlisted the help of family members to hold down the struggling, objecting patient so that she could administer the lethal injection.

“Doesn’t someone have a right to change their mind?” asked Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. He told LifeSiteNewsearlier this year, “They sell it as choice and autonomy, but here’s a woman who’s saying, ‘no, I don’t want it,’ and they stick it in her coffee, they hold her down and lethally inject her.”

“It’s false compassion,” Schadenberg continued. “It’s killing people basically out of a false ideology” that treats euthanasia as somehow good when “it’s the exact opposite of what it actually is.”

In 2016, the Dutch doctor was cleared of wrongdoing by a euthanasia oversight panel. The chairman of that panel expressed hope that the case will go to court – not so the doctor can be prosecuted but so a court can set a precedent on how far doctors may go in such cases.

Troubling new legislation

That case remains fresh in the minds of the Dutch as ‘groundbreaking’ new legislation is being floated by the country’s lawmakers.

Legislators in the Netherlands have now proposed the ‘Completed Life Bill’ that would allow anybody age 75 or older to be euthanized even if they are healthy. If the legislation passes, it would be a big step toward the ultimate goal of making euthanasia available to any adult who wants it.

Alexander Pechtold, leader of the Dutch political party D66, said, “It’s my personal opinion that in our civilization dying is an individual consideration. You didn’t ask to be brought into the world.” He went on to explain that this new legislation would be one more step toward the universal availability of euthanasia, part of a process of steady incremental gains over the last few decades.

Belgium’s culture of death seeping into the Netherlands

As reported by Schadenberg several years ago, according to available data, more than 1,000 Belgian deaths were hastened without explicit request in 2013.

Schadenberg quoted Belgian ethicist Freddy Mortier from an Associated Press article:

“Mortier was not happy, however, that the ‘hastening of death without explicit request from patients,’ which can happen when a patient slumbers into unconsciousness or has lost the capacity for rational judgment, stood at 1.7 percent of cases in 2013. In the Netherlands, that figure was 0.2 percent.”

The Netherlands appears to be going the way of nearby Belgium, with that 0.2 percent statistic climbing rapidly. In 2009, 12 patients with dementia were euthanized. In 2016, there 141 cases reported. And for those with psychiatric illness, there were no cases in 2009 but 60 in 2016.

Boudewijn Chabot, a psychogeriatrician and prominent euthanasia supporter, said in June that things are “getting out of hand.” He continued, “[L]ook at the rapid increase … The financial gutting of the healthcare sector has particularly harmed the quality of life of these types of patients. It’s logical to conclude that euthanasia is going to skyrocket.”

In North America, Alex Schadenberg warns, “People need to recognize that euthanasia or assisted-suicide laws will be abused. Will assisted death be your choice or will it be imposed on you?”

abuse, corruption, crisis, ethics, eugenics, extremism, government, health care, nanny state, public policy, scandal, unintended consequences

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This is socialized medicine

original article: Matt Walsh: Courts in Europe have sentenced a baby to death. This is socialized medicine.
June 28, 2017 by Matt Walsh

There’s a horrific case over in the U.K. that hasn’t gotten a ton of attention here, but it should. If we look closely, we may see our future — and our present.

Charlie Gard is a 10-month-old baby who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. It’s a horrendous condition that leads to organ malfunction, brain damage, and other symptoms. The hospital that had been treating the boy, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, made the determination that nothing more can be done for him and he must be taken off of life support. He should “die with dignity,” they said. The parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, disagreed.

This is the very crucial thing to understand: they are not insisting that GOSH be forced to keep Charlie on life support. Rather, they want to take him out of the hospital and to America to undergo a form of experimental therapy that a doctor here had already agreed to administer. Chris and Connie raised over $1.6 million to fund this last ditch effort to save their child’s life. All they needed the British hospital to do was release their child into their care, which doesn’t seem like a terribly burdensome request. They would then leave the country and try their luck with treatment here. However slim the chance of success may have been, it was better than just sitting by and watching their baby die.

Here’s where things get truly insane and barbaric. The hospital refused to give Charlie back to his parents. The matter ended up in the courts, and, finally, in the last several hours, the European Court of “Human Rights” ruled that the parents should be barred from taking their son to the United States for treatment. According to the “human rights” court, it is Charlie’s human right that he expire in his hospital bed in London. The parents are not allowed to try and save his life. It is “in his best interest” to simply die, they ruled.

In Europe, “Death with dignity” supersedes all other rights.

In Europe, a mother may kill her baby but she is not allowed to keep him alive.

Again: barbaric.

I have heard many people rationalize this demented decision by saying “the doctors know best.” That may well be relevant and true in situations where family members are trying to force doctors to administer treatments that they, the medical professionals, know will not work. But that is not what’s happening here. The only thing these parents are trying to “force” the doctors to do is relax their grip so the child can be taken to different doctors in a different country. The doctors may be the final authority on what kinds of medical measures they personally should take, but they are not the final authority over life itself. It is one thing for them to say, “I will not do this treatment.” It’s quite another for them to say, “You are not allowed to have this treatment done by anyone. You must die.” The former is reasonable. The latter is euthanasia. This baby is being euthanized. By barbarians.

I’ve seen some on social media calling this case “unimaginable” and “mind boggling.” It is certainly awful, but unfortunately it does not boggle my mind or exceed the limits of my imagination. These sorts of cases are inevitable in Europe, and, unless we make a drastic change of course, they will soon become commonplace here. The stage is already set. Just consider these three factors:

(1) This is what happens with socialized medicine. 

If the State runs the health care system, ultimately they will be the ones who decide whose life is worth saving and whose isn’t. That’s not just a byproduct of socialized medicine — it’s the point. And it is especially risky to cede this sort of power to the government when you live in a culture that doesn’t fundamentally value parental rights or human life, which brings us to the last two points.

(2) This is what happens when parental rights are subordinate to the State. 

This case came down to the question of who should have the final say over a child. Should it be the parents, or should it be a collection of doctors, judges, and bureaucrats? And if the parents don’t take precedence in a life or death situation, can it really be said that they have rights at all? If I have no say when my child’s very life is at stake, when do I have a say?

The way things are headed in Europe, a parent may have some jurisdiction over the minor minutia of daily life, but when it comes to the major issues — how a child is to be educated, how he is to live, what he is to believe, when he is to die — it is increasingly up to the State to determine. As a “medical ethics” expert at Oxford put it, parental rights are “at the heart” of most big medical decisions, however “there are limits.” Chris and Connie apparently reached the “limits” of their parental authority and now must sit back obediently while their son dies in agony. “Limits,” you see. You’re only a parent up to a certain point, and then your relationship to your child doesn’t count for anything anymore. That’s how things are in the U.K. — and the U.S., as always, is close behind.

(3) This is what happens when human life is not considered sacred. 

But what really is the downside of taking the child to the U.S. for treatment? It may not work, OK, but why not try? They raised enough money to pay for everything, including an air ambulance to get the baby to the treatment facility. Nobody is being burdened here. Nobody is being forced to do something they don’t want to do. What is there to lose?

Well, the court answers, it’s just not worth the trouble. They’ve weighed all the variables using their various formulations, and they’ve decided that it makes no sense to go through all this trouble on the slim hope of saving this one measly life. Yes, they’ve used the excuse that the baby is “suffering,” and I’m sure he is suffering, but that doesn’t explain why the parents should be prevented from pursuing every option to ease that suffering. Death is not a treatment plan for suffering. Death is death. Death is the destruction of life. We all must experience it some day, but the inevitability of death does not negate the value and dignity of life.

What this really comes down to is that the Powers That Be don’t see the fundamental value in life. That’s why you’ll hear these people speak more often of the “dignity” of death than the dignity of life. They preach about the “right” to die but not the right to live. And the laws in Europe reflect this emphasis on death instead of life. Over there, they kill children in the womb and euthanize them when they come out. They even euthanize alcoholics and depressives and other people who are by no means terminally ill. Once the right to die has been placed over the right to life, death will continue claiming new ground and eating into life more and more. Death is a destructive force. What else can it do but consume?

It’s not quite as bad here yet, but we’re getting there. We already kill hundreds of thousands of children in the womb, and we often speak with admiration of people who make the “brave” decision to commit suicide. And we already, in many instances, place the authority of the State over the rights of parents. Our education system is built around that philosophy.

So, as I said, the stage is set. Prepare yourself for what’s to come.

And pray for Chris and Connie tonight.

 

babies, bureaucracy, children, civil rights, crisis, elitism, ethics, eugenics, extremism, government, health care, ideology, law, medicine, nanny state, progressive, public policy, scandal, socialism, tragedy, unintended consequences

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Killing babies is not a necessary path to opportunity

original article: Hey, Planned Parenthood: Women don’t need abortion to be successful
Jun3 22, 2017 by Cassy Fiano

For abortion advocates, there’s a common argument that gets repeated quite frequently: women need abortion in order to succeed, to build careers, to get an education. Without abortion, women will be left behind, because an unexpected pregnancy will destroy any chance she has to be successful.

Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards made this argument at the Forbes Women Summit. She first argued that one way Planned Parenthood gets people through their doors is because parents want their sons and daughters to have equal opportunities, saying, “We’re at this tipping point. Fathers want their daughters to have every opportunity their sons have. That’s a big cultural shift. That’s one way we bring folks in.”

She then continued on, saying it’s imperative for women to be able to choose when they have families if they’re going to be successful. “The fundamental ability for women to participate in the workforce is the ability to access healthcare and decide when they can have children,” she argued. “Today, women are half the workforce. If we want to grow this economy, you can’t do that leaving half the workforce behind.”

Considering that Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion corporation, the meaning behind that statement is obvious. Without access to abortion, Richards is claiming, women will be left behind in the workplace. But here’s the million-dollar question that Richards will never answer: how does abortion actually solve the problem?

Live Action President Lila Rose destroyed this argument, noting that instead of using abortion as a band-aid, we should demand better options for women, so they don’t have to choose between their careers or education, and their babies.

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Pregnancy is not a disease or a life-destroying plague. Women should not be told that their only options are to either kill their children, or give up their future. Women should not be left in such desperation that they think there is no other choice but abortion. It’s a sentiment advanced by Susan B. Anthony herself:

Guilty? Yes no matter what the motive, love of ease, or desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh! Thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime.

Abortion doesn’t solve a problem for women; it takes a woman in crisis and hands her violence and death, and then leaves her to handle the potential aftermath alone, unaided. Women who have abortions are at higher risk for numerous mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal behavior.

We should be demanding more for women. We should be arguing that women should not have to feel that their lives will be ruined by pregnancy, yet Cecile Richards offers no better alternative. Planned Parenthood, after all, does next to nothing to help pregnant women if they don’t want abortions. Richards refused to stop committing abortions and focus on health care instead, even if it risked Planned Parenthood’s half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding — because abortion is “vital” to Planned Parenthood’s mission.

So why should anyone trust Planned Parenthood? As long as women feel terrified, desperate, and trapped with no way out, they’ll continue seeking abortions — and abortions mean profit for Planned Parenthood. A world where women didn’t have to choose between their careers or their babies would be a world where Planned Parenthood is practically unnecessary.

There’s nothing feminist or empowering about abortion. And women don’t need abortion to be successful. What we need are better options, more support, and a society that embraces mothers and their children… not a society that urges mothers to kill their babies in exchange for a brighter future.

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Oregon readies its death panels, starting with the mentally ill

original article: Oregon Senate Committee Passes Bill to Allow Starving Mentally Ill Patients to Death
June 6, 2017 by TEVEN ERTELT

Yesterday the Oregon Senate Rules Committee passed out Senate Bill 494 on a party-line vote. Touted as a “simple update” to Oregon’s current advance directive, this bill is designed to allow for the starving and dehydrating to death of patients with dementia or mental illness.

Senate Bill 494 is little more than the state colluding with the healthcare industry to save money on the backs of mentally ill and dementia patients. This bill would remove current safeguards in Oregon’s advance directive statute that protect conscious patients’ access to ordinary food and water when they no longer have the ability to make decisions about their own care.

“It’s appalling what the Senate Rules Committee just voted to do,” said Gayle Atteberry, Oregon Right to Life executive director.  “This bill, written in a deceiving manner, has as its goal to save money at the expense of starving and dehydrating dementia and mentally ill patients to death.”

“Oregon law currently has strong safeguards to protect patients who are no longer able to make decisions for themselves,” said Atteberry. “Nursing homes and other organizations dedicated to protecting vulnerable patients work hard to make sure patients receive the food and water they need.  Senate Bill 494, pushed hard by the insurance lobby, would take patient care a step backwards and decimate patient rights.”

“Oregon Right to Life is committed to fighting this terrible legislation every step of the way,” said Atteberry.  “We have already seen the outrage of countless Oregonians that the Legislature would consider putting them in danger.  We expect the grassroots response to only increase.”

SB 494 was amended in committee yesterday.  However, the amendments did not solve the fundamental problem with the bill.  To learn more about what SB 494 will do, please watch testimony made to the Rules Committee on behalf of Oregon Right to Life yesterday by clicking here.  SB 494 likely heads to a vote of the full State Senate in the coming weeks.

Three additional bills (SB 239, SB 708 and HB 3272) that also remove rights from vulnerable patients were introduced this session.

“There is a clear effort to move state policy away from protecting the rights of patients with dementia and mental illness and toward empowering surrogates to make life-ending decisions,” Atteberry said.

Senate Bill 494 makes many changes to advance directive law, eliminating definitions that can leave a patient’s directions left open to interpretation. SB 494 would also create a committee, appointed rather than elected, that can make future changes to the advance directive without approval from the Oregon Legislature. This could easily result in further erosion of patient rights.

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The World Doesn’t Need the UN Population Fund

original article: The World Doesn’t Need the UN Population Fund
May 9, 2017 by SUSAN YOSHIHARA (The Stream)

When President Donald J. Trump cut U.S. funding to the U.N. Population Fund, abortion advocates howled. But Trump made the right call. The billion dollar-a-year agency has run out of reasons to exist, even by its own metrics.

The agency still relies on the same “overpopulation” gimmicks that justified its creation in 1969. In a 2011 media stunt in hot and crowded Manila, it “welcomed” the seven billionth human born. The world is indeed getting more crowded, but not with babies. Old people are expected to outnumber youth on the planet within sixty years.

From investment firms to national security analysists, experts agree: Many countries suffer not from overpopulation, but from a sharp decline in fertility. It took western countries a century to grow old. Developing nations are managing the feat in just one generation. Their ability to seize the promised “demographic dividend” is fading fast. The World Bank has identified a waning appetite for consumer goods in the geriatric West. They say today’s developing economies won’t be able to manufacture their way to economic growth like China did.

Demographers have been ringing the alarm bell for two decades. Yet the U.N. Population Fund has forged ahead with its mission to limit births.

A One Trick Pony

The Fund claims to help couples have the number of children they want. But the facts show the opposite. It does nothing to relieve infertility. It promotes education for women and girls, but does nothing to help women who want to have a large family. On the contrary. The UNFPA offers the same answer for every woman: Have fewer children.

Yes, the U.N. Population Fund has added to its portfolio to remain relevant. It opposes female genital mutilation, endorses maternal health, abhors the spread of HIV/AIDs, and promotes adolescent and women’s rights. But the U.N. already has agencies with these mandates, such as the World Health Organization, UNAIDs, UNICEF and U.N. Women.

Planned Parenthood said President Trump would “kill” thousands of women this year because they won’t get U.N.-funded contraception. But the Fund did not save a single life last year. Rather, it helped “avert” two thousand theoretical deaths in childbirth by providing contraception.

Hypocrisy

Even the U.N. Population Fund’s claim to the mantle of women’s rights is spurious. China’s abusive family planning program has persisted under its watch. Even Beijing has admitted it went too far. The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission now allows for two children. But it still exacts punishment on couples who have one more. That includes the threat of forced abortions, loss of livelihoods and homes. And still the U.N. Population Fund defends its partnership with the Chinese agency.

When shell-shocked Nigerian families welcomed back their daughters abducted by Boko Haram, they found that the girls had suffered unspeakable abuse. What did UNFPA recommend? Abortion. For this, its executive director was rightly rebuffed. But the organization’s leadership can’t seem to help itself. They act as if ridding the world of unintended pregnancies and unwanted children will help solve every problem.

What the U.N. Population Fund won’t admit is that “unintended” and “unwanted” are social science constructs, not the sentiments of parents. Such terms often contradict what women really say. A woman may tell a researcher that her beloved child was never “unwanted.” The researcher, however, may code her child as “unwanted,” due to a survey question she answered years earlier about desired family size.

Women are quite capable of making up their own minds. The U.N. Population Fund, however, often doesn’t like what they decide. Hence much of its spending goes to “advocacy.” Translation: Trying to convince women they should stop at two children.

The fact is that ninety five percent of women in the developing world say they already know about family planning. They just don’t opt for the methods the U.N. recommends. This fact should have the U.N. Population Fund declaring victory, not wringing its hands about “lack of uptake.”

Defying still more facts, the UNFPA insists that lack of access to contraception is a global crisis. Just like the “crisis” of overpopulation, the agency stretches credulity to the breaking point. It claims 225 million women want, but cannot get, contraception. It even posted the myth on a massive Times Square billboard. Yet the Guttmacher Institute assures us that only four or five percent of those 225 million women say they don’t have access. The rest don’t want it. In other words, the global family planning market is already nearly saturated.

It’s time for the United States and its partners to shut down the U.N. Population Fund. Its billion-dollar budget should be used to solve real problems, not chase the ghosts of the 1960s.

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What happens when no one asks whether insurance is really a good way to deal with health care costs?

original article: How Obamacare Hurts Millions Of Americans By Robbing Peter To Pay For Paul
May 10, 2017 by Scott Ehrlich

In my prior article, I tried to outline the pre-existing condition issue. I concluded the amount of people potentially affected by this issue ranged somewhere between 500,000 and 1.9 million and, due to political reasons, it is much likelier to be on the lower end of that spectrum.

So for this article, I will use 1 million people as my number. Based on this data from Avalere, it’s a pretty sensible estimate, if you only count states that are solely Republican-run and therefore likely to seek a waiver.

This 1 million people are adults covered by the individual market, at the moment largely through the federal exchanges. People on group insurance are not affected by pre-existing conditions laws, as those plans do not do individual underwriting. People in government insurance such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Tri-Care are guaranteed issue upon meeting certain conditions. Children under 19 who aren’t covered by Medicaid are covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has no pre-existing condition exclusions. Futher, people in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Washington have state laws that mandate guaranteed issue.

So our at-risk people are made up of the remaining 7 million or so people in the other 45 states who choose to self-insure, have pre-existing conditions that stop them from getting insurance, have states granted waivers under the American Health Care Act (AHCA, if it passes Congress in its current form), and have failed to keep continuous coverage.

Assuming your eyes glazed over a quarter of a way through that sentence, that shows just how many safety nets one has to fall through to be at risk of being denied coverage at the market rate, or any rate, for pre-existing conditions. Recall that just because someone has a pre-existing condition or is denied by an insurance company for one, doesn’t mean he will be denied by all. So that is why my numbers are lower than many others being reported.

Let’s Pin Down How Much These Folks’ Health Care Costs

So let’s go with that 1 million number, which is still a lot of people needing help. What can we do with them? That is the challenge. When enrolling a random assortment of 1 million Americans in a pool, theoretically about 27 percent could have some sort of ailment requiring immediate treatment. Depending on the mix of other people, it’s possible to make that pool actuarily sound.

But high-risk pools don’t work that way. In that pool, 100 percent of enrollees have pre-existing conditions. Therefore, it’s impossible to provide them insurance and keep a stable pool. You can’t insure someone for a condition he already has any more than you can insure a house that is already on fire or a car that has already crashed. There is no ability to pool risk.

So this group of people is very expensive to cover, as they are already sick and use a lot of health care. Average costs in the PCIP federal high-risk pool, the one the Affordable Care Act set up as a bridge to the exchanges, averaged more than $32,000 per enrollee per year. Based on those numbers, at 1 million enrollees, we’d be looking at more than $32 billion annually in costs for high-risk people. That $8 billion that got Rep. Fred Upton to vote yes on House Republicans’ Obamacare tweaks? That would cover only three months of expenses at full enrollment.

If the entire amount appropriated in AHCA were applied to pre-existing conditions, a whopping $123 billion, we’d only have enough to make it through four years if that cost were accurate.

Luckily, That Cost Is Likely Overstated

Reading deeper into the report, you find that, fortunately, it may not be. Not all people with pre-existing conditions are created equally: “4.4 percent of PCIP enrollees accounted for over 50 percent of claims paid, while approximately two-thirds of enrollees experienced $5,000 or less in claims paid over the same period.” So while Avalere used the $32,000 figure, it probably vastly overstates the cost of a program like this. That’s because the people most likely to have been enrolled in PCIP would be the sickest, who need the most care immediately.

Someone with early-stage diabetes with no side effects, like myself, who may currently be tough to insure may ignore a high-risk pool like this since it costs more than I spend on treatment, while someone with advanced cancer requiring frequent doctor visits, expensive medication, and consistent chemotherapy would seek something like this out. Therefore, if the pool of 115,000 enrollees in PCIP were expanded to the 1 million people who have pre-existing conditions but couldn’t be insured, we’d likely see many more costing about $5,000 per year than the ones costing $100,000 and up.

Therefore, I prefer the number $12,000 as the cost per additional enrollee. This uses the average benefit used by a person enrolled in Medicare based on the total benefits paid divided by the total people covered. Since these people are older, sicker, or disabled and have high health utilization, I think it makes a good proxy for the sort of person likely to seek a high-risk pool who would not have jumped at the opportunity to sign up for PCIP.

Adding 900,000 people at that cost to the 100,000 people at $32,000 in PCIP gives us a total annual cost of $14 billion. That means if people in these pools were to cover about 10 percent of their own health-care expenses, the money AHCA appropriates could cover the entire affected population of the high-risk pools for the entire 10-year budget window.

This Is Still a Lot of Money

So now we’ve seen the numbers. About a million people may need help. Pooling them with the healthy has real costs to a lot of people to help a few. But we have decided as a society that we can’t just let those few suffer. Yet helping pay for their care will be staggeringly expensive. Even in my example, with this smaller pool and smaller assumed costs, we would burn through the entire pool of $123 billion in a decade. These people will still need help at the end of that decade. How do we take care of our sick population into the 2030s without busting our budget?

That is why people argue we should keep the Affordable Care Act provisions regarding pre-existing conditions, which are community rating and guaranteed issue. The benefits are obvious, as they have been blasted all over the media. People getting operations they might not otherwise have had, seeing doctors they couldn’t otherwise see, getting care they wouldn’t have otherwise received. Who would be so heartless as to take that away?

This is a classic example of concentrated and observable risk and diffuse and hard to see benefits. Remember what has happened to premiums since ACA was implemented. All these people were not covered without a cost. That cost comes out of the pockets of everyone else in the exchanges. While much harder to see, and much less heart-wrenching in a soundbite or a video or a tweet, those costs did make a difference.

Adding a few hundred dollars a month to health premiums can mean the difference between eating terrible food and eating healthy, not working out and a gym membership, scrimping and stressing over every dollar and rationing essentials which adds mental and physical health costs, or a budget that more comfortably covers your fixed expenses.

More severely, higher premiums for lower-quality policies may mean that some people who may have formerly been able to afford some form of insurance now are going without, causing exactly the sort of problem ACA was supposed to fix. To act like the days, weeks, months, and years taken off the lives of some people due to the costs ACA imposes to help others is without consequence is sadly mistaken.

When Compassion Is Cruel

Those realities aren’t purely speculative, either. Rates are rising year over year. Even with rising subsidies, the plans get more expensive to both buyers and the taxpayers. And there is no sign these rising rates will abate, as more people for whom insurance has a marginal value will choose to go without, leaving a sicker pool, causing not only rates to rise but insurance companies to lose more and more money on these policies.

That leads to insurers dropping out of markets entirely. This is why doing it the “compassionate” way has not only costs for people whose rates will rise, but also costs for those this is supposed to help, as this adverse selection will result in many of them also having no insurance options. Guaranteed issue and community rating do very little good if no one is willing to sell policies because the cost risk is too high.

That is why, whichever way you lean politically, both the ACA and AHCA seem to be just a band-aid. Neither are sustainable, needing significant federal money pumped into them to survive. ACA will need it to subsidize the cost of policies to get healthy people to sign up while also subsidizing the losses insurance companies suffer in an effort to keep them on the exchanges when they don’t.

AHCA will need massive continued subsidies to fund high-risk pools, all as health-care gets more individualized and potentially more expensive. This is in addition to the increasing burden Medicare will put on state and federal budgets as baby boomers retire and live to a ripe old age, while higher birth rates among poorer Americans, in addition to ACA expansion, should cause a massive increase in Medicaid spending.

This is why any comprehensive health insurance reform is doomed to fail. Americans want great quality care at cheap prices that is abundantly available. At best, we can get two of those three. At worst, we get very expensive plans that provide very little real health care for the most vulnerable while making things worse for everyone else. That is why our efforts should focus on ways to provide better health care for everyone, increasing the size of the pie of good-quality, available health care rather than locking in the worst parts of our current system and merely fighting about who should pay for them.

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Some refugees prefer to stay home. Who knew?

In the present environment of American politics, some say bringing refugees to the U.S. is THE solution to the Syrian crisis. But there are other perspectives, such as the perspective of some refugees themselves.

 

This refugee from Syria expresses gratitude for America’s military action in response to the gas attack on Syrian civilians, which appear to be the work of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. He also mentions the fact he and his fellow refugees don’t want to be forced out of their homes and into some foreign country. Some in the American media, such as CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, fish for criticism of President Trump and his immigration policies when interviewing refugees. Debora Heine at PJ Media wrote on this story in CNN Narrative Fail: Syrian Refugee Slams Clinton, Obama; Praises Trump.

“With all due respect, with all due respect,” Kassem began. “I didn’t see each and every person who was demonstrating after the travel ban…. I didn’t see you three days ago when people were gassed to death….I didn’t see you in 2013 when 1,400 people were gassed to death. I didn’t see you raising your voice against President Obama’s inaction in Syria that left us refugees,” he said, completely deflating her expectations.

“If you really care about refugees, if you really care about helping us, please — help us stay here in our country,” he continued.

Others who have looked into immigration have reached a similar conclusion. Rather than play politics and act as if racism or xenophobia are the motivation, those who are willing to make an intellectually honest assessment of the crisis recognize immigration is not the solution the refugees need. Just like the Syrian refugee who wants help remaining in his home, Roy Beck shows good reasons to question the open immigration narrative by discussing the practical details that actually affect the people involved.

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