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Sometimes I don’t know why I bother…

January 20, 2010, 10:47 PM

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother. I try to get a little discourse going on a political issue with a known hostile crowd on Facebook, and their arguments become so nonsensical that it finally becomes pointless to continue. But then again, it’s also kinda fun. Most recently, it started with this as someone’s status message:

[Name] is lifting up prayers that this healthcare bill DOES NOT PASS

Okay, so we’ve got an opinion. They want to see the healthcare bill fail. So let’s dig in:

Ben Schumin Why don’t you want to see it pass?

So I’ve started the discussion. Why don’t they want to see it pass? Personally, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t get what I really want out of this health care thing (single-payer for all), but it’s still better than nothing, as it outlaws a number of the health insurance industry’s dirty tricks, like denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and recission of coverage. We can then build on this later to ultimately end up where we really ought to be down the road.

So the answer I got was less than stellar:

[Name] I just dont think its a good thing

Big help. Let’s prod further:

Ben Schumin Why?

Dammit, I am going to squeeze a real answer out of these people. And I got one:

[Name 2] just read it it explains its self.

[Name 3] I dont even know what its about but if it came out of the mind of our pussyfootin president I dont wanna see it pass either, it cant be good

Ah, so the tone has been set. It doesn’t matter what the content of any health care reform bill is. Because the president is a Democrat, they don’t like it. It doesn’t matter that the president has been basically cheering Congress on and giving the occasional nudge while Congress has devised the various bills on their own. Plus you’ve just got to love those “read the bill” types. I’d come over and pat them on the head condescendingly, but knowing the type, they’d probably shoot me. So I came back with a counter:

Ben Schumin Realize that as of now, there still is no one bill to read. So as of right now, based on the comments I’ve seen, you all have no real objections to any proposed health care legislation (which I admit is probably not going to contain all the provisions that I want on this go-round), but rather you all are just echoing the Republican “party of no” talking points.

The gauntlet has been thrown. “I challenge you, sir, to a duel! Pistols at noon!” So this is what that comment brought in:

[Name 4] Ben, I would be glad to see it pass if it was the same plan as the government workers get, or if it was disscussed in the open as the president said it was gonna be! I have read what is out there–most of it–anyway and being a nurse, I find it appalling. […]

Let’s not forget that this whole thing has been hashed out in public for the better part of a year, and the pundits on all sides have been having a field day over it. This is sausage being made, folks. Just take the so-called “public option”. First it’s a go, then it’s supposedly dead, then it’s back, etc. Coverage of the various House and Senate bills in progress has been all over C-SPAN, plus it’s been all over the news.

Nonetheless, I responded:

Ben Schumin As I understand it, you will get the same thing that the government uses. They have an exchange, and you get to “go shopping”.

Congress gets the same health care plan as all other federal employees. Federal employees go shopping on an exchange, where they can pick from a multitude of different insurance providers and plans, and insurers cannot deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. And federal employees pay part of the cost of their plans, with the employer (i.e. the feds) kicking in a portion as well.

As I understand it, the proposed reform will create this same kind of exchange for the masses. And instead of an employer contribution, the government will subsidize part of the cost of the plan. Thus you would still be paying premiums, but you’re getting some assistance with the cost, potentially going from paying the whole premium to something like if you had employer-provided health insurance.

And I got this back:

[Name 4] Wrong, Ben! Do you have any idea what the congressmen and women get for healthcare?! If you want to know what the people are being offered, try looking at the Indian Health Service! That is more like what they are offering the public!

As I mentioned, members of Congress go shopping like everyone else on the federal government’s payroll. The Indian Health Service, meanwhile, is a socialized health care delivery system. The doctors and nurses work for the federal government. It has been considered unsuccessful because of lack of funding to meet all of its obligations. Of course, our government has had this way of sticking it to Native Americans throughout our country’s history.

Still, let me make a point for a moment – the Indian Health Service is a socialized health care delivery system. No one is proposing that for this reform work. At this point, we’re just reining in the insurance companies who are putting profit over the people they’re supposed to be serving.

Now, however, comes the fun part…

[Name 5] Becuase we nedd LESS government control! the more our government is in control the less we are. youth in asia comes in to play when this happens and quality of life totally goes out the window. with governmet health care if it looks like a trans plant or cancer treatment going to work you are left in a bed to die! Does that help explain government health care for you???

[Name 3] I agree [names], last I read in the Dec. of independence, it says WE THE PEOPLE not WE THE CONGRESS…and ben get some common sense and look behind the scenes instead of the book sense…its goes farther

Actually, the Declaration of Independence does basically say, “We the Congress”. So I let them have it with the next one:

Ben Schumin Actually, the Declaration of Independence begins as such:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.
A Declaration
By the Representatives of the
United states of America,
In general Congress assembled.

When in the course of human Events[…]

See: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

The Constitution starts out with “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union[…]”

See: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_United_States_of_America

Additionally, the Declaration of Independence is not the law of the land. You do not take a case to the Supreme Court because there is an ambiguity in how a law is applied to the Declaration of Independence. You take a case to the Supreme Court when there are questions about how a law is applied to the Constitution.

Our government is a republican (with a small “r”) system. In a republican system, the people elect representatives to run the government on their behalf. Thus the government exists by the consent of the people, because the people elect their representatives, and if the people choose to withdraw that consent, they do so by “throwing the bums out” in the next election. If you don’t like what your representatives are doing, vote against them the next time they’re up for reelection.

Additionally, in the health care reform currently proposed, the health care delivery system will be unchanged. Doctors, hospitals, etc. will keep doing what they’re doing. The reform is better described as health insurance reform, and the vast majority of health insurance will still be privately run. It will still be Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, etc. The rules of the game, however, will change, as companies will no longer be able to deny people insurance for pre-existing conditions, and will no longer be able to rescind coverage if a person gets sick. The private insurers already leave people for dead when they get sick. Health insurance reform will ensure that they won’t do that.

The idea of a public option (which may or may not be part of the final bill) is a government-run health insurance program similar to Medicare to compete with these insurance companies in order to help keep these companies honest. The public option would not be a free-for-all, but would be supported by insurance premiums, just like the private insurers. The public option will likely not be available to everyone, but only to those who meet certain conditions (and I can’t recall offhand what those are).

Please, folks – do your homework first before you try and argue.

Why does it not surprise me that at least half of that response was just in laying out the basic ground rules of how the government functions. The Declaration of Independence can basically be summed up as such: “King George III, go screw yourself.” It was a statement, and the founding fathers’ putting their necks on the line for a cause, in which they ultimately succeeded. However, the Declaration of Independence, as I understand it, is not law. The Constitution is the law of the land, and not the declaration.

And I think I took the wind out of their sails:

[Name] Ben Read Revelation chapter 12 from the Bible King James Version

[Name 6] I am going to pray for you Ben.

[Name 2] he is going to need it when he is dying of cancer and his government healthcare lets him lay in bed and die because it cost to much to help him survive it.

Once they start tossing the Bible around, I know I’ve nailed ’em. Once they pledge to pray for me, that’s an admission of defeat without actually saying it in my book (akin to “don’t argue with me” as a counter-point). I read exactly what they suggested: Revelation, Chapter 12, King James Bible. Looks like someone’s been taking Rush Limbaugh a bit too seriously, as one of Limbaugh’s terms for President Obama is “man-child“. But what any of what’s in Revelation 12 has to do with health care reform, however, is beyond me. I think they’re just trying to tread water after I threw a cinderblock on their arguments.

Now, of course, I’d just like to see a final bill end up on the Resolute desk in the Oval Office so we can all know what the game plan is going to be like, and if it then is worth having.

Web site: What does health insurance reform mean for you?

Song: Video about health care reform, attempting to dispel the "pull the plug on grandma" myth

Quote: And on a totally unrelated note, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has announced a schedule for reopening all the rest areas. Four will reopen by February 17, eight more will come back online by March 17, and the final seven will reopen by April 15. No word on which rest areas will be reopening in each phase, though. The ones on the way to and from my parents' house are the ones I'm hoping go back online in the first phase. See this VDOT map showing where all the rest areas that are reopening will be located. I think that funding can certainly be found, though some creativity may be in order. But good work by McDonnell for setting deadlines on reopenings.