Thursday, December 02, 2010

ObamaCare and Big Mother

Nat Hentoff is a hero of ours-someone who takes his principles very seriously, and doesn't let the winds of political correctness alter his world view. He took such a stand on the GZ mosque-and now he takes on the danger that ObamaCare poses for our individual liberties: "The progressive fracturing of President Obama's credibility in the midterm election results was caused primarily by the grim economy and also by the widespread fear of Obamacare - the rationing of our health care through government invasion of the doctor-patient relationship. This will be fully implemented by boards and commissions whose members have never seen those patients whose treatment is primarily government-funded - and often mandated."

Yes, the danger of Big Mother-something that we as New Yorkers have been given a taste of by Mike Bloomberg and his health intrusions. As we have said, time and time again, the mayor's health hectoring is a harbinger of the future if ObamaCare becomes fully operational in 2014. As Hentoff points out: "At increasing risk is not just the elderly deemed by this government to have already lived enough years to justify expensive continued treatment.Cato Institute health expert Michael Tanner explains how the survival of Obamacare can affect your survival, and mine, by deciding who "ultimately gets to make decisions about your life, about whether you're going to buy insurance or what kind of insurance you're going to buy (or be compelled by government to buy) what benefits it's going to have, what doctor you're going to see, what treatment that doctor's going to prescribe for you, what hospital you're going to go to, and how you're going to pay for it?"

And-as Health Pioneer Bloomberg has shown-what you will be eating and how you will be required to behave. All in the name of health. That is why we have been so vehement about the restriction of the use of food stamps to buy  soda. Listen to the arguments, they invariably revolve around the fact that, if the government is paying for the benefit, it should have the right to dictate how the benefit is used. In essence, then, the poor are the canaries in the mineshaft-offering us a vision of what will be all of our fates if the government controls health care dollars-and the inevitable decisions that devolve from this control.

Under ObamaCare, health specialists in the Bloomberg mold, will be in charge of all life and death decisions: "In all of American history, this is the first time the national government will have the power to decide, in many cases, and a range of ages, how many of us will be permitted to go on living. Who will decide?...Moreover, I doubt that even many of Obama's citizen critics, including independent voters, know what was hidden beforehand in Obama's 2009 stimulus bill that includes the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (later superseded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute)."

Do you like the Orwellian nomenclature, or do you prefer the death panel vernacular? "Composed of 15 members appointed by the president, the Coordinating Council - along with the stimulus bill's additional National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (some of which may be ruled as too costly) - will review your doctor's diagnosis of the treatment for your condition with regard to the cost of government funds involved in that treatment."

And you thought the insurance companies were bad-but their deleterious nature pales in comparison with the power of government to coerce and disable you and your liberty: "There are, in addition, hordes of bureaucrats also involved in deciding your future on this Earth. As described by the firmly nonpolitical Congressional Research Service (Wall Street Journal, "Obamacare, for some," October 29), there is "a currently unknowable number of new boards, commissions and offices" in this "bureaucratic apparatus." Adds this report: "it is currently impossible to know how much influence they will ultimately have" on who will live or die (sorry, I meant "expire"), thereby helping the government cut its deficit."

Your life will become part of a deficit reduction equation-how nice. And the bureaucrats will be firmly in charge: "Ardently defending Obamacare in the November 4 New York Times ("To save money, save the Health Care Act"), here is Peter Orszag (director of White House Office of Management and Budget, 2009-2010 and "distinguished visiting fellow" at the Council on Foreign Relations.") This is something I didn't know, and maybe neither did you. He writes: "Perhaps most important, the legislation creates an Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of independent medical experts who will look for more ways to improve Medicare's cost-effectiveness (with regard to your health care). Under the law, any policy that the board issues takes effect unless legislation to block it is passed by Congress and signed by the president."

As Hentoff points out, there won't even be any judicial review: "But what if Barack Obama is re-elected in 2012 and the Democrats take over the House and Senate - voting, as before, in lockstep with the president on Obamacare, therefore killing any opposition legislation to what this Independent Advisory Board has decided, and what all those other boards and commissions conclude your life is worth, whatever your own doctor wants to do for, and with you, personally? Would this still be America? Is it now?"

If nothing serious is done to diminish this expanding health bureaucracy, we will all find that our lives are literally not our own-and the loss of liberty pursuant to this bureaucratic monstrosity will be misleadingly promoted in a good l'chaim manner. If this isn't an example of Tocqueville's soft despotism, we don't know what else could be a better one.

So, as New Yorkers, we see the future with a degree of clarity that might elude other Americans. It is a future where health czars in the mold of a Dr. Tom Frieden, or a Dr. Tom Farley, will be issuing rules and edicts on what will be considered the parameters of good-i.e., healthy-behavior. It is a cold, inhuman and bureaucratic world-much like what the one envisioned by the great sociologist Max Weber- one that is governed, not by morality and indivdual will, but by technological imperatives devolving from what some bureaucrats see as the greater good. Hentoff is attuned to the coming of what Weber saw as, "a polar night of icy darkness."