Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

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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Transgender boy defeats girls, so much for empowering women

original article: Matt Walsh: Please, leftists, explain how this ‘transgender’ madness empowers women
June 6, 2017 by Matt Walsh

Tell me again, leftists, about your abounding concern for women. Please tell me about the need to empower young girls and provide them with opportunities. Please tell me all about your “pro-woman” stances and policies. Then, if you could, kindly explain how this story fits into all of that.

A mustachioed boy who “identifies as a girl” heroically won gold in the 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash for the Connecticut high school girl’s state championships last week. His times would have placed him a full second behind last place in the boy’s competition, but against the girls he easily came in first. Aside from the general insanity of the situation, there are two particularly disturbing aspects of this story, and I’m hoping you can help us all see the positive in these:

First, the boy and his parents have demonstrated total disregard for the girls he disenfranchised in order to win. The boy, “Andraya,” gloated that he’s happy to have won but he “kind of expected it.” Gee, I wonder why?

His dad graciously conceded that fairness is irrelevant and all that matters is whether his son is happy. “In terms of the fairness aspect, I don’t think about that as a father. I only think about, is my [son] happy, healthy and able to participate in what [he] wants to do… [He] got to compete as a girl where [he] feels [he] should compete.” This is what you call terrible parenting.

His mother also waved her hand dismissively at the girls who were robbed of an opportunity to win a fair race. “I know they’ll say it is unfair and not right, but my counter to that is: Why not… [He] is competing and practicing and giving [his] all and performing and excelling based on [his] skills. Let that be enough. Let [him] do that, and be proud of that.” It should be “enough,” she says, that her son is happy and proud. That’s all that should matter to anyone. Please explain, leftists, how the parents and the boy have the right attitude here.

Second, the actual girls in the race have been so beaten into silence and submission that they were afraid to even voice their displeasure over the competition being blatantly rigged against them. Kate Hall, the student who came in second but really came in first, cried and confessed to being “frustrated,” but then added, “that’s just the way it is now.” “I can’t really say what I want to say, but there’s not much I can do about it,” she muttered dejectedly.

So, leftists, tell me how these girls have benefited from this fantasy that biological males can also be girls. Better yet, tell them. Go up to Kate Hall and explain to her that she has no right to be disappointed. Explain that, although Andraya has insurmountable biological advantages, it’s still fair that he compete against her because that’s what he wants. Explain that his desires and his feelings must always come before her own. Explain how the happiness of one biological male outweighs the happiness of every girl he raced against. Please, explain.

And then perhaps you should have a sit down with all of the girls across the country and let them know that the extinction of women’s sports is on the horizon. Please explain how this is all for their own good. After all, women cannot compete in women’s leagues if men are competing in women’s leagues. So, there will be no more women’s leagues. There will be men’s leagues and then cross dressing men’s leagues. I’m really hoping you can explain to my daughter and to all of our daughters how empowering it will be to witness the end of female athletic competition.

And, while you’re having this discussion, make sure you also explain how their silence and submission is, in this case, right and healthy. These girls are scared of speaking out and letting their feelings be known. They’re scared of saying they want their own leagues, and their own bathrooms, and their own identity. They’re scared of asserting their right to safety and privacy. But this is good, yes? Those bigots ought to be intimidated, right? They ought to just shut up and go along. Please tell them that. Please explain it. I don’t think they quite understand yet. Please, you pro-women folks, you women’s rights defenders, you protectors of female autonomy. Please come forward and lay it out clearly so everyone comprehends it. Say it just as it is, like this:

“No, girls, you don’t get your own bathrooms anymore. You don’t get your own leagues. You don’t get your own identity. Not if men want in. Shut up and let the man beat you. Let him take your gold medal. Let him disrobe in front of you. Let him do what he wants. You have no choice. The proclivities and fetishes of men must come first. The desire that you may have to retain and defend your own unique identity is transphobic. Shame on you. Your feelings are not legitimate.”

Put that on the banners at your women’s marches.

Make it your rallying cry.

Go ahead.

Please.

bias, bigotry, biology, discrimination, diversity, education, ethics, extremism, ideology, justice, left wing, liberalism, pandering, political correctness, progressive, public policy, reform, relativism, sex, sexism, tragedy, unintended consequences

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Many of America’s seemingly benevolent programs succeed only in making people dependent

original article: Searching for Self-Reliance
May 30, 2017 by Edwin J. Feulner

When conservatives call for Congress to cut federal spending and shrink the size of government, they’re often portrayed as heartless.

On the contrary: We remember our heritage. We know there’s actually nothing “progressive” at all about the nanny state. Indeed, it’s regressive. It’s a betrayal of our history as a nation built on self-reliance.

We owe our republic, after all, to the energy and exertions of rugged individuals — pilgrims who crossed the perilous sea in frail ships to brave a wilderness, pioneers who slogged thousands of miles through hostile territory and prevailed against all odds.

They had no subsidies, no guarantees, no government help save for raw public land they painfully developed by hard labor. They shared what they had, helped one another, and took turns standing guard to protect against danger. They wanted to be free, and they build the freest country in history.

Self-reliance, Alexis de Tocqueville observed in his landmark work “Democracy in America,” was the organizing principle of American life, culture, and politics in the 19th century. Today, however, our nation seems to have reversed Tocqueville’s admiring formulation and become a nanny state in which more and more individuals depend on government to do not only what they can’t do for themselves, but far too much else.

Sure, there are plenty of hard-working Americans still around. But unlike our predecessors, many other present-day Americans show little or no interest in relying on their own mind and muscle to surmount obstacles. Since the 1930s, generations have grown up accustomed to depending on government as their first line of defense against not only serious trouble, but also the common vicissitudes of ordinary life.

Think of the chores we expect our public servants to perform with all the panache of brave first responders tackling a terrorist attack. If you lock your keys inside your car, can’t coax your cat down from a tree, or feel insulted by a surly cabdriver, what do you do? Many milquetoasts in 21st century America call 911 and demand action by some hapless fire company or overworked police department.

The nanny state has conditioned vast numbers of us to view nearly any setback as a federal case. If you can’t pay your debts, taxes or tuition; if you can’t afford health insurance, rebuild your beach house after a hurricane, or save your business from your own follies, never fear — some federal program will surely bail you out.

And you don’t have to be poor, friendless, handicapped or underprivileged to get that help. The bigger your business and the more egregious your errors, the more you can expect the feds to save you.

Americans have been sliding into dependency ever since the New Deal began federalizing everyone’s problems, and particularly since Lyndon Johnson launched his so-called “Great Society.” What fell by the wayside was the previous American way of dealing with adversity, the era when people in need turned to the civil society around them — the safety net of families, friends, churches, local doctors, and politicians.

All that changed with the proliferation of federal programs doling out benefits on an industrial scale. Federal involvement in everything from retirement (Social Security), health care (Medicare and Medicaid) and education grew by leaps and bounds, making more and more Americans dependent on faceless bureaucrats they never meet.

It all adds up to a profound loss of the self-reliance that built this country and made it great. Many of our seemingly benevolent programs succeed only in weakening people and condemning them to endless dependency.

This is why conservatives want to cut government down to size. As President Reagan said in his first Inaugural Address, “It is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work — work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride our back.”

Critics call that heartless. But to allow our present trajectory to continue unchecked is senseless. It’s time to change course — before it’s too late.

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Normalizing killing as a response to human suffering

original article: The left’s new response to mental illness: killing people
April 18, 2017 by Wesley J. Smith

Euthanasia/assisted suicide is NOT about terminal illness. The issue is about normalizing killing as a response to human suffering.

Sure, the initial sales pitch would restrict doctor-administered or prescribed death to the dying. But that’s just to get people comfortable with the concept. Once a society accepts the principle, logic quickly takes it to a broad euthanasia license.

Canada is a prime example. Before the Supreme Court imposed a national euthanasia right on the country, the debate was all about terminal illness. But now that euthanasia is the law throughout the country, the push is on to allow doctors to kill the mentally ill who ask to die.

The Globe and Mail’s pro-euthanasia health columnist, André Picard, uses the suicide of a mentally ill person to push that agenda. From, “The Mentally Ill Must Be Part of the Assisted Suicide Debate:”

We should not discriminate or deny people rights because it makes us queasy or because of our prejudices. This case reminds us just how severe mental illness can be. “Non-existence is better than this,” Mr. Maier-Clayton said. “Once there’s no quality of life, life is akin to a meaningless existence.”

Opponents of assisted death argue that those who suffer from mental illness cannot make rational decisions, that they need to be protected from themselves.

But we’re not talking about granting assisted death to someone who is delusional, or suffering from psychosis or someone who is depressed and treatable. The suffering has to be persistent and painful, though not necessarily imminently lethal.

I would hasten to add, as defined by the suicidal person and regardless of ameliorating treatments that could be administered. But anyone who is suicidal believes his or her suffering is unbearable. Otherwise, they wouldn’t want to die.

This ever-broadening death license is only logical. If killing is indeed an acceptable answer to suffering, how can it be strictly limited to people diagnosed with a terminal illness? After all, many people suffer far more severely and for a far longer time than the imminently dying.

The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and now Canada, demonstrate that over time, it won’t be.

Meanwhile, California has a regulation requiring state mental hospitals to cooperate with assisted suicide for their involuntarily committed patients with terminal illnesses–despite supposed protections in the law for those with mental conditions that could affect their decisions.

Meant to be compassionate, assisted suicide is actually abandonment most foul. Compassion means to “suffer with.” Euthanasia is about eliminating suffering by eliminating the sufferer. 

Or, to put it another way, euthanasia endorses suicide. It’s not choice, it is the end of all choices.

In any event, this is the debate we should be having. Whether one agrees or disagrees with my take, surely as we in the USA should debate the issue with intellectual integrity and honesty.

But we won’t because pro-euthanasia forces know they would lose. The obfuscating claim that assisted suicide will only be about the terminally ill for whom nothing else but death can eliminate suffering is just the spoonful of honey to help the hemlock go down.

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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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The problem with basing a diagnosis and irreversible treatment on people’s feelings

original article: Bravo to the Truth: What’s Wrong with Transgender Ideology
April 27, 2017 by Walt Heyer

A recent New York Post article tells the story of a Detroit mom named Erica who changed into a transgender dad named Eric. If that is not enough, his son had already changed genders: born a boy, he transitioned to living as a girl. Thus, mom became dad and son became daughter. Similarly, back in 2015, a fifty-two-year-old Canadian man made the news when he traded in his wife and seven kids to fulfill his “true identity” as a six-year-old transgender girl.

Stories like these remind us that transgender identity is a product of LGBTQ social ideology, not of each human person’s innate identity as male or female. Transgender identity is not authentic gender but man’s attempt to socially engineer the family, sex, and gender identity.

What Makes a Person Trans?

The accepted LGBTQ standard for being a “real” trans woman or trans man is simply that a person desires to self-identify as the opposite of his or her biological sex and to be socially accepted as such. If a person feels distressed about his or her birth gender, then the politically correct action is for everyone to affirm the new and “authentic” gender identity—the one that exists only in the trans person’s feelings.

In a recent interview on Fox News, transgender lawyer Jillian Weiss, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, was asked repeatedly by host Tucker Carlson, “What are the legal standards to be transgender?” Finally, the legal specialist admitted, “There are no legal standards.

That’s right—no legal standards or legal definitions of transgender exist. Yet, as Carlson pointed out, $11 billion of federal money is spent on sex-specific programs, such as the Small Business Administration investing in businesses owned by women. Without a legal definition, these funds become easy prey for, as Carlson puts it, “charlatans” who will claim to be women simply to get the money.

When people feel that their biological sex doesn’t match their internal sense of gender, they are typically diagnosed with gender dysphoria. This is defined as “discomfort or distress that is caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and that person’s sex assigned at birth.” In other words, the medical diagnostician simply listens to and affirms the patient’s own verbal self-identification and self-diagnosis.

No objective tests can prove that the transgender condition exists. No physical examination, blood test, bone marrow test, chromosome test, or brain test will show that a person has gender dysphoria. It is a condition revealed solely by the patient’s feelings. Yet the recommended treatment is extreme—cross-gender hormones and sex-reassigning surgery.

Don’t be duped when trans activists conflate the unrelated condition of intersexuality with transgenderism to gain sympathy for a trans agenda. People with intersex conditions are not the same as self-identified transgender people. Being intersex is verifiable in the physical body; being transgender is not. People who identify as transgender usually have typical male or female anatomies.

How to Become Transgender
The wikiHow article entitled “How to Transition from Male to Female (Transgender)” outlines a simple five-part system for men who want to become women. Here is a small sample:

Seek a qualified therapist. . . . Ask your friends in the trans community to recommend a therapist. Browse the internet in search of a therapist experienced working with members of the trans community. . . .

Receive a diagnosis. Over the course of a series of sessions, your therapist will evaluate your individual situation issuing a diagnosis. After determining that you have consistently experienced symptoms such as disgust with your genitals, a desire to remove signs of your biological sex, and or a certainty that your biological sex does not align with your true gender, your therapist will likely diagnose you with Gender Dysphoria.

These instructions are typical of the advice offered to those who believe they may be transgender. I myself followed a similar series of steps. Yet, in hindsight, after transitioning from male to female and back again, I see that many important topics are ignored by such advice, placing vulnerable people at risk. Four crucial omissions are most obvious and problematic.

First, these instructions fail to caution the reader about therapist bias. Asking friends in the trans community to recommend a therapist guarantees that the therapist will be biased toward recommending the radical step of transitioning.

Second, no mention is made or warning given about sexual fetishes. If a person has been sexually, emotionally, or physically abused or is addicted to masturbation, cross-dressing, or pornography, he could be suffering from a sexual fetish disorder. As such, he is probably not going to be helped by gender dysphoria treatment protocols.

Third, the high incidence of comorbid mental conditions is not mentioned. Those who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, oppositional defiance behaviors, narcissism, autism, or other such disorders need to proceed cautiously when considering transitioning, because these disorders can cause symptoms of gender dysphoria. When the comorbid disorder is effectively treated, the gender discomfort may relent as well.

Fourth, regret after transition is real, and the attempted suicide rate is high. Unhappiness, depression, and inability to socially adapt have been linked to high rates of attempted suicide both before and after gender transition and sexual reassignment surgery. My website gathers academic research on this topic and reports the personal experiences of people who regret transitioning.

Standards of Care?
In theory, the medical community follows certain standards of care for transgender health, now in the seventh revision, which were developed by The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). The standards provide guidelines for treating people who report having discomfort with their gender identity.

People think that because standards exist, people will be properly screened before undergoing the radical gender transition. Unfortunately, the overwhelming theme of these standards is affirmation. Again, clinical practitioners do not diagnose gender dysphoria. Their job is to approve and affirm the client’s self-diagnosis of gender dysphoria and help the patient fulfill the desire for transition. The standards also advise that each patient’s case is different, so the medical practitioners may (and should) adapt the protocols to the individual.

The patient controls the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. If a gender specialist or the patient wants to skip the screening protocols and move forward with hormone treatment and surgical procedures, they are free to do so. The standards of care do not come with any requirement that they be followed.

For example, the standards do, in fact, recommend that patients be pre-screened for other mental health conditions. But I routinely hear from family members who say that obvious comorbid conditions, such as autism or a history of abuse, are ignored. The physician or the counselor simply concludes that the psychological history is unimportant and allows the patient to proceed with hormone treatment.

When Real Looks Fake
As simple as it is to become a “real” transgender person, it’s even easier to turn into a fake one. “Fake” transgender people like me start out as real, but when they eventually see through the delusion of gender change and stop living the transgender life, transgender activists give them the disparaging label of “fake.”

If someone comes to the difficult and honest conclusion that transitioning didn’t result in a change of sex, then he or she is perceived as a threat to the transgender movement and must be discredited. Name-calling and bullying ensues. To be considered real, the transgender person must continue in the delusion that his or her gender changed. The problem with basing a diagnosis and irreversible treatment on people’s feelings, no matter how sincerely held, is that feelings can change.

My message attempts to help others avoid regret, yet the warning is not welcome to the advocates whose voice for transgender rights rings strong and loud. Some will find my words offensive, but then the truth can be offensive. Personally, I cannot think of anything more offensive than men diminishing the wonder and uniqueness of biological women by suggesting women are nothing more than men who have been pumped with hormones and may or may not have undergone cosmetic surgery.

Cheers and bravo to the offensive truth. Let’s reclaim the beautiful reality of male and female sexual difference and reject transgender ideology.

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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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Western feminism now defends restrictive, intolerant patriarchy

original article: Upside-down Down Under
April 12, 2017 by Kay S. Hymowitz

Here’s a riddle for our politically twisted times: when is a black woman a white supremacist? Answer: when she speaks out against female genital mutilation, sharia law, and jihadism.

This is the tortured logic of the feminist Left in Australia, which helped stop a lecture tour by the human rights advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Anonymous protestors warned venues and insurers not to have dealings with the Somali-born, anti-radical-Islam activist if they wanted to avoid “trouble.” The “Council for the Prevention of Islamophobia, Inc.” accused Hirsi Ali of being part of the “Islamophobia industry . . . that exists to dehumanize Muslim women.” Another group, “Persons of Interest,” took to Facebook to describe her ideas: “This is the language of patriarchy and misogyny. This is the language of white supremacy. This is the language used to justify war and genocide.”

Hirsi Ali canceled her trip in early April, only days before she was due to speak in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Auckland, New Zealand. In Australia, as in the UK, the costs of security have to be borne by event organizers, not the government, as is the case in the U.S. Perhaps there were disagreements between the speaker and her sponsors about security. In any case, Hirsi Ali travels with armed guards, but it was still too dangerous for her to speak in public. Yes, in Australia.

Anyone familiar with Hirsi Ali’s personal and ideological history is doubtless picking their jaws up off the floor at the Orwellian nature of these goings-on. She “dehumanizes” Muslim women? But it was Hirsi Ali who was dehumanized when as a girl she was subjected to a clitoridectomy, a barbaric and horribly painful ritual still visited upon girls in many Islamic countries to prevent them from experiencing sexual pleasure. She speaks “the language of patriarchy and misogyny?” But as a vocal opponent of the forced marriage of young girls to older men, which she describes as “arranged rape,” Ali vehemently attacks the patriarchy in its most oppressive manifestation. The Muslim feminists who seek to silence her are the ones linking arms with misogynists.

How has Western feminism come to a point where up is down, and a restrictive, intolerant patriarchy must be defended? Hirsi Ali blames it on the naïveté of liberals, besotted by political correctness in the face of religious extremism. “In liberal societies, those on the left [are] in the grip of identity politics,” she said after announcing the cancellation. “This fascination is not caused by the Islamists, but the Islamists exploit it.” Radicals know the social-justice drill—minority identity is good, regardless of any of the actual precepts of that identity, and its critics are by definition white supremacists. Within this mental universe, accusations of “Islamophobia” are a cudgel for silencing moderates and advancing the cause of radicals.

It’s worth recalling that the feminist Left’s silence on the Islamic treatment of women precedes the advent of microaggressions and race and gender obsessions. In fact, it goes back as far as the early days of second-wave feminism. Sent to Iran to cover the revolution in 1978, the French philosopher Michel Foucault, an intellectual godfather of contemporary leftism, was enchanted by what he viewed as the religious revolutionaries’ anti-globalist authenticity and “political spirituality.” When Ayatollah Khomenei took power after the fall of the Shah, he reintroduced polygamy, reduced the age of marriage for women from 18 to 13, and restored the punishment of flogging for those who violated compulsory veiling laws. Neither Foucault nor his comrades in the anti-colonial, feminist-influenced Left were troubled by this dramatic retreat from women’s most basic rights.

Over the years, some feminist organizations have protested female genital mutilation, but for the most part the sisterhood has focused its ire on a mythical Western patriarchy rather than the real thing making headlines in Muslim countries and immigrant enclaves at home. Now that feminists have adopted an updated form of anti-colonialism called “intersectionality,” there’s virtually no chance that the principle of basic rights will prevail over special pleading for medieval cultural norms. Intersectionality refers to overlapping and self-reinforcing marginalized identity-group identity; hence a black woman suffers two levels of oppression, while a black gay woman struggles with three. Intersectionality leads directly to the conclusion that Muslim women must be protected from a racist and sexist West. Any hint that Muslim culture could be a source of oppression against its women is tantamount to a colonialist war on native identity.

That this latest example of feminist Orwellianism comes from generally moderate Australia is not entirely surprising. The country’s Muslim population is small; as of the last census in 2011, Muslims made up only 2.2 percent of the population. But over the past several years, the country has endured a number of stabbings, thwarted attacks, and a shooting by a radicalized 15-year old. The most infamous Islamist attack, in which three people died, took place in a 2014 siege of the Sydney Lindt chocolate cafe by a lone-wolf gunman, who brandished a black flag emblazoned with the Muslim statement of faith.

Stirring up tension has been the Trumpian figure of Pauline Hanson, a senator from Queensland and a founder of One Nation, Australia’s populist party. As her party’s name hints, Hanson has been hostile to immigration. In recent years, she has taken an aggressive rhetorical posture toward Islam, calling it “an evil faith.” One Nation suffered a decisive defeat in Western Australia in March, but populist victories abroad have put many Australians, both Labourites and Liberals (conservatives, in our parlance), on edge.

In a feedback loop similar to that existing in other Western countries, including the United States, One Nation’s populism is in part a reaction to political correctness but winds up prompting more of it. Conservatives are a rare breed at Australian universities, whether as professors or speakers. Meanwhile, accusations of racism, sexism, hate speech, and Islamophobia are becoming almost as commonplace in Australia as marsupials. One of the biggest political contretemps these days involves Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, which includes prohibitions on any speech that might “offend, insult, and humiliate” on the basis of race. Alert to potential dangers to free speech, Liberals want to tone down the language of the provision, while Labourites argue that it serves as a vital protection against hate speech.

Labour might want to look more closely at the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In a country where the woman who speaks out against forced marriage and jihadism is an extremist and the people who threaten her are praised as virtuous representatives of diversity, who exactly requires protection?

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Healthy masculinity is exactly what our young boys need

original article: The ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Trend Blames Boys For Being Born Male
April 12, 2017 by Nicole Russell

The term “toxic masculinity” is en vogue now, from college campuses to Playboy. But the term implies there’s a problem with masculinity, and teaching our boys and men that their innate wiring is wrong, stupid, and even toxic creates far worse problems. If anything, society doesn’t need less toxic masculinity, we need more men embracing their natural masculinity.

The latest in the explorations and denigrations of toxic masculinity is the University of Regina, a school in Canada. They’re hosting a program called “Man Up Against Violence,” which asks male students to sit in a Catholic-style confessional booth and confess their sin of “hypermasculinity.”

What’s that? You weren’t aware masculinity, hyper or otherwise, was a problem? Well, universities want guys to own it and apologize for it—not just inwardly, but outwardly too. After a female colleague wrote about toxic masculinity, New Zealand’s Martin Van Beynen observed, “Toxic masculinity is the new male burden.” He is also trying to figure out what it means.

You then have to ask what aspects of manliness its accusers don’t find toxic. Surely they can appreciate the masculinity that builds cities and roads and fixes things. Maybe they could also find the hardiness associated with masculinity commendable and worthwhile.

Of course, some men do rape and beat up their partners and make excuses for rude behavior. But nothing suggests a rape culture is endemic to the male psyche—not anywhere close to the majority of men are rapists—and to stigmatize masculinity on the strengths of some bad attitudes among teenage boys and some men is simplistic, counter-productive, and unfair. Labeling masculinity itself as toxic is hardly going to change attitudes, particularly among teenage boys, or enlist the help of men who can make a difference.

Do the Actions of a Few Men Characterize Them All?

While I applaud that Regina University is hosting a “Healthy Relationships and Healthy Masculinity” workshop—who’s not for “healthy masculinity?”—I’m afraid the whole initiative reinforces the myth that men are toxic just because of their natural biology, not because they’ve done anything wrong. Man Up Against Violence says, “[W]e challenge mindsets and behaviors about the social construction of masculinity and its relationship with violence. We work together to bring light to the causes of all types of violence related to gender, race, socio-economic status, ability level and beyond.”

The phrase “social construction of masculinity and its relationship with violence” carries an assumption that some men, even all men, are violent. Some women are prostitutes too, but does that mean it’s healthy for society, particularly universities tasked with shaping young minds, to automatically equate females with selling sex? Of course not.

Even Playboy has started using the term. Earlier this month the publication said British singer Ed Sheeran had a “Toxic Masculinity Problem”: “[Sheeran] sometimes comes off as sad and out-of-control. And his attempts to own that—in both his music and his interviews—is what makes it feel like he’s dealing with a severe case of toxic masculinity, one that is continually fueled by binge drinking and sex.”

What this author describes isn’t a toxic male but an immature one. This kind of behavior has been common among musicians and Hollywood celebrities for a long time. In the 80’s, Eddie Murphy joked the band The Busboys made his fish stop swimming because of their propensity to, “f–k anything that moves.” But this says more about Hollywood culture than “toxic masculinity.”

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Even advocates of this thinking can’t agree on what “toxic masculinity” is, save for things men do that women don’t like. Of course, rape, misogyny, and abuse are toxic. Any civilized society should demand that criminal or abusive behavior to be dealt with as a legal and moral imperative.

But if the “We-hate-toxic-masculinity” crowd were just referring to this, they wouldn’t have a confessional booth set up on a college campus for the average male student, and abuse is more serious than that. Criminalizing manhood is a sure way to trivialize actual crimes by comparison by lumping two completely unlike things under the same heading.

Suggesting men confess a crime they didn’t commit, or confess to a crime that’s not even a crime (being a man) is progressive virtue-signaling in overdrive.  Such a scheme is framed in such a way to deliberately hurt young men and thus our society at large, which benefits most from men meeting their masculine potential.

What We Need Is Healthy Masculinity

Our culture is so wrapped up in trying to blur the lines of sexuality, and women have become so obsessed with their warped concept of feminism, we seem dead-set on confusing, even hating, men for their masculinity. Equality doesn’t mean sameness. Yes, society should strive for equality between men and women, but no phrase, whether “cisgender,” “toxic masculinity,” or “gender binary attack helicopter,” will ever change that men and women are not the same. Nor should it mean men shouldn’t be as proud to be masculine as women can to be feminine.

Camille Paglia once said, “Men have sacrificed and crippled themselves physically and emotionally to feed, house, and protect women and children. None of their pain or achievement is registered in feminist rhetoric, which portrays men as oppressive and callous exploiters.”

Masculine men are as much the bedrock of society as strong, nurturing women. Don’t think so? Read a bit of history about the men and women who traversed this country’s wilderness and winters with minimal belongings on horseback and in carriages during the pioneer era. Talk about the sexes working together. Without each other, they likely may not have survived. Even though survival is easier today, men and women still need each other. We both have unique and complimentary things to offer each other and society.

Because feminists are so clueless and careless about the differences between men and women they seek to emasculate even an “average” guy as opposed to calling out men who are actual misogynists.

Instead of teaching our boys to embrace a healthy masculinity that includes what at first glance appears to be trivial—such as holding doors, carrying groceries, or throwing a coat over the shoulders of a wife or girlfriend—society forces them to not only to eschew such chivalrous gestures but to repent of exuding masculine strength.

I have two boys and believe teaching them the value of healthy masculinity is as imperative as teaching girls it’s good to embrace their femininity. Even the simple truth that maleness is nothing to be ashamed of seems to be a radical concept. Healthy men and boys know their strengths, and instead of seeking to annihilate these traits, we need to encourage them to use their strengths for good. Society needs it far more than we need men to apologize for existing.

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