Banality of Evil and Health Care
Where political control is concerned, the consequences are so great as to turn a man, a cartel or an administration, into an automatron — a non-thinking Machiavellian machine whose only purpose is the accomplishment of the “ends” with no thought for who is run over during the “means.” Such is the case with the exercise of liberals’ power in Washington currently targeted on health care ‘reform’. Yet the chute of their viewfinder is so compacted, so laser-focused, that they’ve lost sight of the reason for reform: making access and cost the number one issues, all while keeping the fundamental ‘do no harm’ in mind.
Matt Holzmann writes about our moral obligation to care for the weak (even beyond Matthew 25:40) and the horrors awaiting us should this national socialist program pass, in The Banality of Evil – The Health Care debate takes a dangerous turn.
This evening the New York Times is reporting that the President and Congressional leaders plan to go it alone on their health care bill. Since this leadership includes Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, and we have seen their hysterical response to the growing concerns of many in the electorate with the various bills introduced so far, I am deeply concerned. Despite massive and growing resistance and incontrovertible declines in the popularity of their positions, they plan to take the gloves off and pass something, anything to be able to declare victory. For that is what this is all about now. Better, more widespread health care is not the issue any more. This is the most craven of partisan politics.
In 1962, Hannah Arendt, in writing about Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Final Solution, tried to understand the phenomenon of pure evil. Having been a good German who lived under Hitler until her life was threatened, she escaped the Holocaust. These were her people who did this thing. She was desperately trying to understand how the German people would participate in such horrors. “The Banality of Evil” was her description of the way in which ordinary people accepted the orders of their leaders and committed such crimes. The defense of “following orders” was disallowed by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremburg, who stated that following illegal orders was not a valid defense provided a moral choice was possible.
So what does this have to do with health care? Please allow me to relate a true story. Today seems to be my day for such if you have read my earlier blog.
I had a relative in England who died less than three months ago. I will relate her story. She was never in the best of health, but contracted tuberculosis a few years ago in her late 50’s. Since treatments are weighted in the National Health Service, it was determined that her care would not have a high priority. Her children were grown and did not need a mother’s care. TB treatment is expensive, and there is a limit in the UK of GBP 45,000 per patient per year excepting extraordinary cases. Someone somewhere sat down at a desk and factored in all of these variables. This treatment was delayed as are many kinds of treatment in the UK. Then 3 years ago, in a weakened state, she contracted cancer. Once again, the actuarial tables were consulted, and she received only limited care. At that point it was only a matter of time. She survived much longer than anyone would have expected. Other illnesses attacked her body. And then, one day, she finally passed on.
There were steps in this process. There were procedures and guidelines. And decisions made to limit treatment. In the United States, she would have had immediate and aggressive treatment for tuberculosis by government order. She probably would have stood a much better chance of surviving much longer with a reasonable quality of life.
The fact is that today, our government is highly constricted in its financial options. We have already indebted ourselves to a point where we can no longer finance that debt. Medicare, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which is controlled by the above mentioned leadership, will go bankrupt in 8 years. Social Security is predicted to do the same in the 2030’s. The CBO also has calculated that any of the bills now under consideration would cost as much as $1 trillion. So we have the two largest safety net programs yet undertaken by our government bankrupted by irresponsible government borrowing and poor management, and Congress own accountants predicting runaway costs. The president cited the Post Office as a comparison in speech to his undefined health care proposal in Portsmouth, NH last week. How can he and our leaders fail to see the analogies? How can they fail to see the potential for collapse and the terrible pain it might cause? This should be one of the most serious discussions of our time and there is no discussion.
The warning signs are all around us. We are faced with a health care system that needs reform. So many issues have been identified in the public debate that serious, measurable reform may now be possible. Ideas are coming from all sides. And yet we are faced with a pigheaded, partisan leadership that is basically preparing to tell the rest of us to go to hell and ram through another highly defective piece of legislation without scrutiny and without debate. The financial system bailouts and Stimulus Bill and Cap & Trade bill all point clearly towards where this will end up.
The Administration and its supporters have vilified the concerns of many about end of live panels, and yet this is a fact of life in the UK already. Somewhere far removed, bureaucrats make life and death decisions based on the numbers. With all of its faults, our current system values life much more highly. One of the chief theoreticians they seem to be listening to, Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, the White House Chief of Staff’s brother, has openly discussed the “life value” of infants and the elderly, noting that a child is not really self aware until the age of two. This is a very, very dangerous discussion.
One of the fundamental virtues Americans have always held is the value of life. Whether it is in the care for sick infants or the billions spent on AIDS research or the heroic measures in the operating room on an inner city gunshot victim, or on the battlefield where our troops are indoctrinated with “no man left behind”, or our fundamental obligation under Medicare for the care of our elders, we have almost always managed to do the right thing. We make herculean efforts to do so. There is a preferential option for the weak in our culture that we must never lose that is based upon our humanity and our faith.
Or do we, like Eichmann, simply shirk responsibility by saying we were only following orders?
August 19, 2009 - Posted by Lisa | (Definitely Not) Free Markets, (Un)Limited Government, 1st Amendment, Agenda of the Left, Christian, Fiscal (Ir)Responsibility, Leftists Criticize Conservatives, Politics, Wake Up, WordPress Political Blogs | Adolph Eichmann, constitution, czars, dissent, Ezekiel Emanuel, freedom, government-run, healthcare, Hitler, Holocaust, liberal, liberties, Nuremburg, Pelosi, rationing, Reid, socialism, socialized medicine, the Final Solution, UK, Waxman
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Romans 12:2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
John 14:27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
2 Chronicles 7:1414 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Elementary, dear Watson
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Samuel Adams“If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”
"But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever." (1775 letter to Abigail)
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Walter E. Williams on Government
"At the heart of the American idea is the deep distrust and suspicion the founders of our nation had for government, distrust and suspicion not shared as much by today's Americans. Some of the founders' distrust is seen in our Constitution's language such as Congress shall not: abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, violate and deny. If the founders did not believe Congress would abuse our God-given rights, they would not have provided those protections. After all, one would not expect to find a Bill of Rights in Heaven; it would be an affront to God.
"Other founder distrust for government is found in the Constitution's separation of powers, checks and balances and the several anti-majoritarian provisions such as the Electoral College and the requirement that three-quarters of state legislatures ratify changes in the Constitution. The three branches of our federal government are no longer bound by the Constitution as the framers envisioned and what is worse is American ignorance and acceptance of such rogue behavior.
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"The American people, along with our elected representatives, whether they're Republicans or Democrats, care less about what is and what is not permissible under our Constitution. They think Congress has the right to do anything upon which they can secure a majority vote, whether they have the constitutional or moral authority to do so or not."
--George Mason economics professor
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