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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Terminator 4—State of the State & Universal Health Care

Trouble in the Golden State
On January 5th, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, delivered his state of the State address. Given his desire to provide universal health care for every child in California under the age of eighteen—legal or illegal—I was eager to read the transcript (I would have watched, but there was something really good on The Military Channel about tanks). In terms of the universal health care thing, which I’ll deal with more below, I seem to remember that California recalled Governor Gray “Beige” Davis in part for wanting to issue a California driver’s license to illegals as well as frittering away a huge monetary surplus. Now Schwarzenegger is headed in the same direction and the voters and taxpayers of California should possibly begin marshalling their forces to recall him too.
Clearly, he hasn’t learned a thing! I’ll begin with certain excerpts from his address and then move on to deal with a horrible concept: universal health care. As far as the latter is concerned, it seems to be our destiny to have to endure some pundit or pinhead proposing this on a regular basis. Remember Hillary Rodham Rodham Rodham Rodham Clinton’s abortive jaunt into the wonderful world of universal health care? It would have cost Americans billions of dollars but she was prepared to rush ahead, even if the attempts at providing universal health care in Europe and Canada have met with dismal failure and continue to provide sub-par results. The motto remains: Never mind! This time it will work for us! We're so much smarter than all those other countries! Yeah, right. So I’ll begin with some quotations from Schwarzenegger’s address and comment on them.

Doublespeak
In his opening remarks, the Governor said, “People recently have said to me, “Arnold, I bet you wish you were back in the movie business.’” He said No, but I personally wish he were back making movies. That would cost me a lot less. Schwarzenegger is precisely what is wrong with Republicans in general and Republicans in California in particular. In point of fact, Schwarzenegger might be quasi-Republican in some fiscal policies, but as we shall see he is getting to rush over the precipice of “the minimum wage.” I, for one, wish he were back in the movies. That would be a very good start.
Then he proceeded, “I’ve thought a lot about the last year and the mistakes I made and the lessons I’ve learned.” Obviously, clearly, he has not thought long enough yet. Why? Catch the psycho-babble in this sentence: “What I feel good about is that I led from my heart” (Italics mine). He sure did and the results of some of his boneheaded proposals are still seated about a foot below his brain.
What I found so disingenuous about his address is his verbiage. For example, when he says, “We made unequalled investments in education—a record of 50 billion dollars this year,” what he really means is that we simply deferred a huge burden to our future generations and given the fact that we are allowing a disproportionately high number of illegals into California at an alarming rate our future generations will be saddled with not only paying for the education burden but also for the retirement benefits of the illegals.
Seeking the prosperity of the Golden State the Governor wants us to reflect on what California will be like in 20 or 30 years. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to calculate that! Poignantly, he asks, “And what kind of hospitals will care for our sick?” Answer: Given the current rate of illegal immigrants and their usage of our medical facilities for free, NONE, because they’ll all be out of business due to the heavy burden of free medical care and anchor babies—not to mention the free universal health care the Governor proposes. Gosh, do you think that might be a magnet, and incentive for even more illegals to flood into California? How dumb can you be?
He laments the freeway gridlock in California—do we have a problem with that out here? I hadn’t noticed—the waiting times in emergency rooms, and overcrowded schools. Less than two minutes earlier he had said that California “built the schools and the universities that became the envy of the world.” Which is it, Governor? You cannot have it both ways. I would suggest, however, that the remedy is to seal our border to Mexico and deport those illegals who are adding to the already unbearable crowding on California’s highways, the interminable waits for medical care in the ER because they are sitting waiting for their freebies, and get them out of our public school system. That would be a good start.
He proposes that his billions promised to improve California can be done “without raising taxes.” Here’s the sleight of hand: the money to fund universal health care will be a “fee” and not a “tax.” Got it? I you believe that you have less common sense than our Governor. A rose by any other name and all that.
Another glaring incongruity is his gloating over the fact that 450,000 new jobs have been created, that we should let the free market work in terms of prescription drugs, but he’s in favor of increasing the minimum wage. As a former Economics major I cannot understand why anyone in favor of letting the free market take care of itself would be in favor of a government imposed minimum wage. If you are struggling with this, let me suggest that you pick up two books by the black economist, Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics. A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy and Applied Economics. Thinking Beyond Stage One. Just “thinking” might be helpful, starting with the Republican Party and Mr. Schwarzenegger.
Since our illustrious Governor is also proposing a ridiculous universal health care, nanny state approach, let’s turn our thoughts to what that entails beyond some touchy-feely heart matters. I have personally lived under two systems of socialized, universal health care in Holland for almost ten years and in Canada for about the same period of time.

So You Want Universal Health Care? Are You Sure?
The notion of ostensibly affordable, universal healthcare might seem attractive at first glance, but upon closer scrutiny it is fraught with a number of serious difficulties. I have good reason to write about this because I lived under the social healthcare system in Holland for nine plus years as well as another nine plus in the Canadian system. Some people are just gluttons for punishment I suppose.
We’re rapidly becoming a bunch of “rights” oriented people here in the U.S. For some strange reason, we believe it’s our “right” to earn a minimum wage and to have our employer pay all of our healthcare benefits—even if we’re in a low or non-skilled job. Therefore, as the reasoning goes, somebody, anybody ought to pay for my healthcare. It really doesn’t matter who pays it, just so someone picks up my end of the stick. Given the lunacy of many modern Democrats and their incessant carping about the Bush tax cut, the most obvious people to pay for universal healthcare are the rich. Ironically, we tend to pull up short on this “rights” kick. Where do you draw the line—and how do you draw that line—to say that everyone deserves universal health care but not, say, a car—a Yugo in every garage?
Since a lot of you don’t speak Dutch—I know that some of my readers do—I’ll give you some of the headlines that appeared in Canadian newspapers when I lived up there. “Metro wait for surgery forces 100 heart victims to hit U.S.,” “Second heart patient dies as surgery delayed nine times,” and “Patients wait in line for hospital bed.” Get the idea?
Dr. Bill Gairdner, whom I greatly admire, wrote a book that was published in 1991 with the title The Trouble with Canada.[1] As he chronicled the ills of our neighbor to the north, he put pen to paper and described what he called the “medical mediocrity” of Canada. Some of the most egregious problems with the national healthcare system in that country included “regular cost overruns, long line-ups for surgery, experts leaving the country, patients dying as they wait for service, lack of equipment, wage clashes between professional staff and hospitals, fee-schedule battles between physicians and the government.”[2] Other than that, it was a fine program.
No, that’s not entirely true either. As someone who experienced it, the care was simply sub-standard. That’s not to say that the doctors were not qualified. They were—by and large. The problem arose from the ubiquitous presence of the government with its hand involved in regulating everything! And you’re going to get that every time you head down the path for universal healthcare.
A bureaucracy will be called into being and, God help us all, life will become exponentially miserable. Oddly, there are still people who refuse to accept this truth. And you can count on the fact that those who will be most in favor of universal healthcare for the masses will not have it for themselves. They’ll be insured privately—and probably on the taxpayer’s dime. These are the same fine folks who rail against school vouchers, but refuse to send their children to public schools, once again proving that we’re all equal, but some are more equal than others.
Gairdner came up with two very predictable reasons for the veritable demise of Canada’s healthcare system. He writes, “First, because as human nature and economic theory tell us, the demand for an unlimited free commodity is infinite; and second, because others who have tried to make socialized medicine work, whether in Eastern Bloc or Western nations, have failed miserably.”[3]
Let’s reflect on those words for a moment.
In the first place, the system gets log-jammed by people who have little or nothing to do in life than to visit the family physician—and this actually happens. People with perceived illnesses inundate the doctor and those who really are sick get dumped on in the process because the waiting list is so long. You see, it’s free. There’s no co-pay so you just go and go and go. The demand for a “freebie” is infinite whether it’s healthcare or a three-martini lunch. The problem is that the demand is infinite while the commodity is decidedly finite. Many, however, never give this truth a second thought.
The second reason Gairdner gives for the failure of Canada’s healthcare system is the lesson of history. I remember when Hillary Clinton was hot to trot about her healthcare plan. I could not believe that anyone with any historical consciousness would be in favor of it. Fortunately for us all, it crumbled, crashed, and burned. Nevertheless, it had its supporters and if something similar is presented in the future no doubt some will step forward in support of what has repeatedly—repeatedly—failed miserably elsewhere.
Some genius will probably think that the US is different and what was a failure elsewhere will not be a failure here. Don’t count on it. What is required for such a system is a collectivist, utopian Socialism run by an elite group of ideologues and bureaucrats. Why we could have the majority of our tenure-track, liberal college and university professors and those permanent bureaucrats that have never had a real job implement the program for us. Wouldn’t that be fun, not to mention very costly?
How would the US healthcare program be funded? The answer is simple: the same way any (quasi)-socialistic program is funded: out of tax revenue. Any socialistic, cradle-to-grave (womb-to-tomb) “giveaway” is designed to curry favor with the non-thinking, buy vote support from those who have bought the lie that they’re “disenfranchised,” and to increase government’s power of the people.
Before I close this issue let me say a word to my pastor colleagues. There’s a driving instinct for us to be compassionate. That’s a good thing. What I have observed however is that those of us who are Presbyterian or Reformed have not given much thought to what a truly biblical worldview would look like on this subject. While I don’t propose to have all the answers, I do, however, believe that certain things are crystal clear.
First, we must, at all costs, avoid the Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jim Wallis liberal, Social Gospel approach. Jackson and Sharpton appear to be pastors without churches. The “Reverend” seems more of a subterfuge than reality and for the life of me I cannot understand why the ACLU does not hammer them for mixing Church and State. Wallis is just a leftwing nut case. If you don’t believe me, try reading his God’s Politics without crying or laughing yourself to death.
Second, we must be genuinely concerned about the poor—recognizing that they will always be among us—without unduly or unjustly favoring them (Comp. Deut. 15:11 [Matt. 26:11]; esp. Ex. 23:3). We are to do that which is just according to the Word of God (Micah 6:8).
Finally, it is within the purview of the modern Church to teach its members to be responsible citizens in our society. Surely we must be concerned about the lost, but we must also—and at the same time—be about the business of ongoing, solid biblical teaching among those who profess the name of Christ. It is patently clear that the Word of God written calls Christians to work and not to expect handouts and “freebies.” We are also not to discriminate because of the different classes that exist. In this all, there is a spiritual “secret” to be learned.
The Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs called that secret The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. The Apostle Paul says it this way. “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil. 4:12, ESV).The subsequent verse reminds us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Our strength is not in adopting the ways of the secularists nor is it by succumbing to the temptations of the failed Social Gospel. Our help is in the name of the Lord who created the heavens and the earth and from his infallible word we will form our ethics and take our marching orders. Will you speak for him?

[1] William D. Gairdner, The Trouble with Canada, (Toronto: General Paperbacks, 1991).
[2] Ibid., 299.
[3] Ibid., 300. Emphasis his.

1 Comments:

Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Ron,

Aptly written!

All one has to do is watch Prime Minister's Questions on C-SPAN Sunday nights to see what the National Health Service of Britain is in all its glory. This past Sunday, one Tory MP called attention to the horrendous waits his constituents faced, some of them with very serious illnesses. No thanks.

I imagine the Governator being married to a Kennedy clan member influences his thinking somewhat, plus being from Socialist Europe himself. Hillarycare was a disaster, but now that she's officially announced for the White House, she is resurrecting the idea. (I swear, every time I hear "Joan Crawford Has Risen From the Dead" by Blue Oyster Cult, I think of Hillary.

America seems on meltdown - hyperspeed. Our future is certain in the Lord, of course, but that doesn't make the ride in that direction always pleasant. I would like to think America isn't stupid enough to elect her, but then reality sets in.

10:31 AM  

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