Archives Volume 1 No. 5 July 2000
In this issue:
The 7th District Primary is history and it marks another sad moment for the Republican Party of Virginia. Eric Cantor had the endorsement of Governor Gilmore and Congressman Bliley and his excess funds which he used to advertise hourly on the Richmond stations. To add to that, Cantor also had the riches of the Cantor family.
Yet, with all of this, he only won by approximately 200 votes out of approximately 40,000 cast. Oh, I almost forgot, he also had the endorsement of our past DEMOCRAT Delegate Butch Davies. Even with all of this helping him pull his little red wagon he barely won.
Now think about this. If Cantor and his opponent, Steve Martin, had been on an even keel in this race who do you think would have won? My guess would be Steve Martin.
One political analyst reported on the news that this should be an embarrassment to both Gilmore and Bliley. The fact is that they have been grooming Eric Cantor for years to run for the House when Bliley finally stepped down and he still almost lost.
It is also a disgrace that the voter turnout was so low. I wonder how many Martin supporters who did not get to the polls are saying, "if only I had taken the time to get to the polls and vote". You can never, never count your vote out as not being important.
Lake of the Woods voted more than 2 to 1 for Martin over Cantor but there were less than 500 votes. I kept looking for voters who I thought were going to vote for Steve to get to the polls and they didn't appear.
We cannot let the "Machine" take over in Republican politics in this great Commonwealth as it is trying so hard to do. It worked in the 30th District race and now in the 7th District race.
The "machine" tried to win in the 1st District with Gov. Gilmore supporting Paul Jost but it did not work. Delegate Jo Ann Davis won with little heavyweight support and not an abundance of funds but she worked hard and got the grass roots support.
If only Steve Martin had gotten just a little more of the grass roots support. Still, he can hold his head high and I am proud that I supported him.
Something destructive is happening in Virginia politics that is damaging the fabric of our Constitutional rights. The selection process for candidates in Virginia is being usurped by those already in power. In the current election process, due to the power of money, the freedom to chose a candidate in Primary elections has vanished. As stated by Columnist Bob Gibson in the Daily Progress on June 4, 2000, "Money gives political candidates a certain cachet and a lot of flexibility." And those already in political office have large coffers to provide that money to the candidate they would have in office.
There are those that believe if a candidate can raise the most money, he must be the most influential. That is not true. It simply means he has influence with a select few who have the means to pay big bucks to see him in office. When a handful of people toss large amounts of money toward a candidate just to see that person on the ballot, it raises questions as to why. Why is it so important for those already in political office to choose the candidates during the Primary? Could it be as simple as control? Are the people in Virginia allowing those already in office (slated to be out of office soon) to decide who will "run" Virginia in the future? Something is terribly amiss here.
Republican Allan Keyes warns that the partisan lockout feeds a sense that,
"our elections are a sham, that have no significance, but are in fact a manipulated outcome dictated in the end by those who already have power...That sense of cynicism will destroy our political system - no, it is destroying it."
(US Term Limits Weekly Commentary #178, Paul Jacobs)
Voting is supposed to be the epitome of fair play, of allowing people to speak their piece, of choosing by a vote. Today in Virginia a voter may be allowed to pull the handle, but deep pocketed political powers have chosen the name on the ballot. It's a little bit like laying a child's clothes out in the morning. Sometimes, when you want to make him feel big, you place two choices on the bed and let him choose. Whichever one he chooses makes no difference, the decision was already made for him. Elected officials like Governor Gilmore and Representative Bliley chose for the voters in this year's primary. By this choice, they will most likely control the next candidate that runs for office also, people tend to replicate themselves.
The involvement of elected officials prior to the Primary is a two-edged sword. It causes more and more thinking people to abandon their fundamental rights of voting in desperation and it allows dictators more complete control of Virginia in the process.
This charade can be stopped by limiting the amount of funds allowed as contributions and by keeping those in elected positions out of the political races until after the Primary. Until that time, one can only hope that the candidate purchased is one worth the cost.
It was a lawyer who asked Jesus Christ, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus helped him answer his own question by asking the lawyer what he thought was the controlling authority in scripture on that point. The lawyer stated, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." Jesus told him he had given the right answer and if he would do those things he would indeed have eternal life. But the inquirer, being a lawyer, needed to know the definition of "neighbor".
Jesus gave him a story to show what being a neighbor really meant. He said a man was robbed, beaten and left for dead while traveling on the road going from Jerusalem to Jericho. Two people saw the injured man and passed him by: a priest, and a Levite (which was a minister appointed to assist the priest in the care of the tabernacle). A third man, a Samaritan, stopped and helped the robbery victim. The Samaritan wasn't from that region, and, in fact, was a member of a disfavored minority. The Samaritan didn't just bind up the victim's wounds, but he took him to a nearby inn, paid for his lodging in advance, and gave his word to pay for anything else the wounded man might need if that payment wasn't enough.
Jesus then asked the lawyer, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou was neighbor unto him that fell among thieves?" Of course, the lawyer said the Samaritan was the neighbor. Then Jesus said to the lawyer, "Go and do thou likewise." (1)
Throughout the years, followers of Christ lived out that verse by creating the hospice movement to care for the terminally ill; inventing the concept of hospitals to treat the sick; and developing the profession of nursing to give loving care to the wounded, diseased, and dying. It was Christians living out Christ's words who gave each of those institutions to the world. But sometime after World War II communities began to leave these caring services to the government. The Church no longer was viewed as the primary caregiver for "the least of these" in our society.
Compassionate persons began to call out for government to do something to help people who could not afford even the basic necessities or simplest health care. The combination of our generous national spirit and the inaction by the Church spawned Medicare, Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in the mid-1960s which in turn began the constantly expanding government involvement and regulations in health care which we suffer under today through ERISA, FSA, MSA, HIPPA, CHIP and a massive amount of other acronyms. In the current Congress alone, there are fifty (yes, 50!) bills to create new health care laws, from the "Patient Safety and Health Care Whistleblower Protection Act" to the "Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act". (2)
Before government involvement in health care, it was only the very poor who could not afford to pay for their own health care. Today, no one but the very wealthy can afford to pay for their own. When Christians step aside and Caesar takes over the work Christ has called his Church to do, negative consequences are inevitable.
Here is an illustration of how health care costs have increased under the influence of government intervention. When I left work on Capitol Hill and began the private practice of law in 1984, my firm was the first in our small town to buy a "word processor". Computers were still priced out of reach, but word processors were becoming affordable for businesses. It cost us $8,000. The same tool today would cost only $200 - $300, but there's no reason to buy a mere word processor when one can buy an extremely powerful computer for under $2000 that can do things that weren't even thought of in 1984. Computers, competing vigorously on the free market, went down in price, up in capability, and up in accessibility.
Health care, however, during that same time frame, received increased government assistance, regulations, and mandates and has increased in cost 8 - 12% per year. If health care were my old $8,000 word processor, its price would have increased to $17,600 instead of decreasing to $200 for an equivalent model or $2,000 for a vastly better one.
Contrary to what we would intuitively expect, government intervention has hurt accessibility and costs in health care, it hasn't helped.
In the Clinton Administration's first term, there was an attempt to not only have the government once again intervene in health care, but to have the government take over the nation's health care system entirely, from teaching to treatment to taxation for payment. That massive takeover effort failed, but it has not gone away. Like a bad teen slasher film, the villain has come back to life after being killed off in the last poorly made movie.
President Clinton gave a speech to the Service Employees International Union a few years ago and said, "Now, what I tried to do before [with the sweeping Hillary Health Care bill] won't work. [But] maybe we can do it another way. That's what we've tried to do, a step at a time, until we eventually finish this… we've got to do it right so we can go on to the next step, and the next step, and the next step." (3)
Congress took a big step when it enacted the $24 billion Children's Health Insurance Program (known as "CHIP") in 1997, which basically gave free health care to all children in families earning less than $40,000. Two years later, Hillary Clinton said "Creating CHIP was the critical first step…[but] we recognized that fulfilling the promise of this legislation would not be done when the president signed it - in fact, that would be just the beginning of the hard work to make sure it could be implemented." (4)
The current presidential race, particularly during the primary season, has given us an opportunity to see how more steps to a complete takeover of the health care system might occur.
Bill Bradley proposed a sweeping socialized national health care system much like the British and the Canadian systems at a cost of $55-65 billion.
Al Gore countered with a proposal pouring $37.4 billion per year into Medicare by vastly expanding Hillary's CHIP program.
Bill Clinton proposed spending $138 billion for what he admits would be "the largest investment in health care coverage since the establishment of Medicare in 1965." (5)
Ted Kennedy backed Mr. Clinton's plan and announced it on a nationwide tour. He said it would be universal health coverage, by "a new alliance of government and business". This alliance, he said, would be created by requiring all employers to give their employees health coverage, whether or not the employer could afford to do so. (6)
By definition, the solutions to our health cost problems which Mr. Kennedy and the others are proposing are fascist: "Unlike communism, fascism retains private ownership of land and capital, but most economic activity is controlled and regimented by the state through a system of national socialism." (7)
A fair question to ask is whether their proposals would accomplish the goal of providing better health care for more people or whether they would create unnecessary problems without really making health care cheaper.
To accomplish equal health care for the rich and poor alike, Canada and Britain outlawed private payments by patients to doctors or hospitals. All health care was to be provided to all people by the government. There were two results: one was to put a huge financial burden on the government's budget. The other was to create huge delays in obtaining health care.
To deal with the budget deficit problem nationalized health care has created, the Canadian government closed seven hospitals in Montreal, and closed or merged 44 more in Ontario. To cut labor costs, they induced 3600 nurses and 1200 doctors to take early retirement. On top of that, there are no replacements for the retiring doctors because to lower the government's cost of medical education the number of spaces in medical schools was cut 20 percent. The resulting delays in health care have been so bad that on a single day in Toronto emergency rooms at 23 of the city's 25 hospitals had to turn away ambulances. (8)
Canadians hate their nationalized health care system, and in two separate polls 93% said improving the health care system should be the federal government's top priority and 74% supported re-instituting private payments to do so. (9)
Canadian medical historian Michael Bliss wrote: "We have no significant crises in care for our teeth or our animals, largely because dentists and veterinarians operate in the private sector. So we have the absurdity…that you can get faster care for your gum disease then your cancer, and probably more attentive care for your dog than your grandmother." (10)
(That absurdity is creeping into U.S. health care costs on prescription drugs. Congressional investigators found that wholesale prices of 14 popular prescription drugs which are marketed to both people and pets have prices up to five times higher when the drug is given to people. For example, the study found that a one-month supply of Medrol cost $3.90 when purchased as an anti-inflammatory for a dog, but cost $20.10 when bought by the dog's owner as a treatment for asthma. 11)
Britain spends $65.6 billion per year on its socialized health care and gets no better results than Canada. In the two weeks following the New Year, England's newspapers blared out articles on people being turned away from hospitals during the flu outbreaks, shortages of intensive care beds, lengthening waits for surgery, and postponements of patients' surgical dates.
Much of that British media attention focused on Mavis Skeet's medical delay. The 73 year-old woman's throat cancer was treatable, but after her operation was postponed four times because of backlogs in the government-run system, the cancer spread and doctors said her condition had become inoperable.(12) Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged major problems with Britain's National Health Service. "I'm not going to sit here and say there aren't problems in the NHS because there are, and we've got to put them right," he said in a BBC television interview. (13)
Back in the U.S., when an uninsured mother of four sons showed up at one of presidential candidate Bill Bradley's campaign stops in New Hampshire, her appearance revealed the good motives and faulty logic that keeps our government health care programs expanding. Cathy Perry told Bradley that one of her sons apologized to her for getting sick because he knew his family couldn't afford any more expenses. Bill Bradley blinked back tears as he told her, "No child should have to apologize to his mother because he is sick. It is because of people like you that I have laid out the health-care plan I have in this campaign." (14)
Mr. Bradley's compassion is right on target, but his facts are not. We do not know Cathy Perry's situation -- if she is single or married, rich or poor. If she is at or below the poverty level, those boys already qualify for free health care under Medicaid. If Cathy Perry is above poverty level but below about $40,000, then her sons are already eligible for free health care under Hillary's Children's Health Insurance Program ("CHIP") which was passed back in 1997.
Mr. Bradley's proposal (which will probably soon be repackaged by Mr. Gore or Mr. Kennedy even though his own candidacy failed) would substitute his economic decisions for Ms. Perry's. He mandates that "all children be covered by health insurance from birth".(15) This would not a new "choice" for Cathy Perry, this would be a federally-mandated order. Obviously, she's already having to make difficult economic choices-- that's why she does not currently have health insurance. Under Mr. Bradley's plan this payment for her health insurance will be taken out of either hers or someone else's paycheck without their consent. Under his proposal, if Cathy Perry earns less than $32,800, the entire $4,800 of premiums ($1,200 per child) will be taken from other people's paychecks. If she earns between $32,800 and $49,200, the cost to her will be subsidized so that some of it will be taken out of her paycheck, and some of it will come out of other people's paychecks. If she earns over $49,200, all of the $4,800 will come out of her paycheck,(16) whether she thought she needed it elsewhere or not. All of these deductions would be compulsory.
Under this proposal, there would also be compulsory payroll deductions to pay for universal "insurance-for-everyone" for adults. If an adult in a family of four earns less than $16,400, then other taxpayers would pay for their compulsory insurance premium of $1,800 per adult. If adults in a family of four have total family incomes between $16,400 and $32,800, then they would pay some, and other taxpayers would pay some. (17)
It is no help to Cathy Perry or others like her to forcibly deduct from her paycheck money she did not have to freely spend when it was her own choice. Taking the money from her against her will is compulsion, not compassion.
Our response to the problems caused by government intervention in health care should not be in resentment or idle complaints, but it should be by active and voluntary participation in caring for our neighbors who are suffering. When we do so, people will stop saying, "The government ought to do something", and they will begin saying, "Let's go talk to those folks at that little church down the street, maybe they can do something." That's when we will know that we have truly learned the lesson Christ was trying to teach that lawyer so long ago to "Go, and do thou likewise".
(4) "Remarks By First Lady at Children's Health Outreach Event", www. Insurekidsnow.gov, February 23, 1999.
(11) "Pets Get Better Deals On Medicines Than People", Richmond-Times Dispatch, A6, February 23, 2000.
(15) www.billbradley.com, the official website for the Bill Bradley for President committee.