What if purchasing medical products and services were like buying peanut butter? Grocery stores have several brands and varieties: smooth, chunky, old-fashioned, natural, organic, no added sugar, reduced fat, no-stir, and pre-mixed with jelly with clearly marked prices ranging from $1.75 for the store’s generic brand to $7 for the over-priced Yuppie brand. After carefully examining the labels, our shopper chose a 16-ounce, $5 jar of no-added-sugar peanut butter. She paid the cashier $5 for the peanut butter and went home.
If our shoppers were transported to the universe of medical billing with the $5 jar of peanut butter, the shopper with Medicare would pay $1.00 but her grandchild will be presented with a bill for $4. When the shopper with private health insurance attempts to pay, the cashier becomes unglued. The shopper cannot say whether she met her deductible or has a co-payment, and whether the brand of peanut butter is approved by the network. She really wants the peanut butter so she grabs the generic from the shelf and pays the $1.75. Our privately insured shopper was pleasantly surprised at the generic’s good taste and healthful ingredients, her wallet was happy for the cost savings, and she was glad not to have the middleman hassle.
Comparison shopping is one pillar of bringing sanity to the high cost of medical care, but the opacity of the pricing system for medical costs limits the value of posting list prices to encourage lower costs through shaming, competition, and choice. In addition to research and development, manufacturing, and distribution costs, drug costs are affected by additional layers of middlemen: pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and insurers. Using a “trade secret” process, PBMs negotiate discounts and rebates for private and government insurers. The money saved is supposed to go back to the government (taxpayers) or to insurers to lower premiums or otherwise benefit patients. PBMs typically are paid by a percentage of the rebate or discount off the list price. The higher the price, the bigger the rebate. Thus, the rebate system gives an incentive to raise list prices rather than placing the lowest-priced drug on the insurer’s formulary. (This same system is used by Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) for hospital product purchases.)
An analysis of the effect of California’s 2-year old drug price transparency law illustrates the complexity of pricing. Despite being compelled to post list prices, pharmaceutical companies raised the list price for wholesalers by a median of 25.8 percent but the data did not indicate the “price” that consumers actually paid. Moreover, with medical services and products the simple What the Market Will Bear (WTMWB) pricing method works because either the medication is essential (e.g., Epi-Pen®), has no alternative, is in short supply, or the medical consumer is not paying directly for the services.
Similarly, publishing hospital the charge description master (“chargemaster”). i.e., the standard industry price does not give consumers enough information to make a rational choice regarding elective medical services. The data necessary to make price comparisons depends on an individual’s circumstances. More relevant than the chargemaster price, a self-pay patient needs to know the lowest possible cash price. A patient with health insurance must know (1) whether the hospital is in the insurance network, (2) the price negotiated between the health care provider and insurer (including Medicare), (3) the amount and method of calculating cost-sharing, (4) the amount Medicare or other insurer will pay for services performed in a physician’s office in contrast to the hospital which tags on a “facility fee.”
Transparency is one tool for lowering costs through choice. As one of many studies on hospital consolidation noted, “The Sky’s the Limit” on prices where there is lack of competition. But the difficulties of achieving useful price transparency must not be a cue for the government to initiate bureaucratic band-aids. As we have seen with Obamacare, forcing insurers to pay more of the costs leads to higher premiums, deductibles, and/or co-pays.
Nor should the government impose price caps. President Nixon’s 1971 wage and price freeze brought product shortages—which we are already facing with certain drugs, including anesthetics and chemotherapy agents. If the government sticks to enforcing anti-trust laws, a competitive market will thrive. The court house door anti-trust settlement by Northern California’s Sutter Health sends a message to big hospital chains to stop using their market share to inflate prices or require insurers to join their networks on an all-or-nothing basis to prevent insurers from negotiating lower prices at individual hospitals.
If we can get to the point of direct exchange of money for goods and services and reserve health insurance for major expenses, we can see costs decrease just as we have seen with the Surgery Center of Oklahoma over the last 10 years.
Dr. Singleton is a board-certified anesthesiologist. She is Immediate Past President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Her opinions, medical or otherwise, are her own. She is a guest columnist and this is an edited version of her article originally written for pennypress.com, reprinted with permission.
United States Attorney General Bill Barr recently spoke at Notre Dame University. Last week I quoted from the first half of that speech. Today, from the second half. I add no commentary because he says it all so well:
“The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.
“Interestingly, this idea of the State as the alleviator of bad consequences has given rise to a new moral system that goes hand-in-hand with the secularization of society. It can be called the system of “macro-morality.” It is in some ways an inversion of Christian morality.
“Christianity teaches a micro-morality. We transform the world by focusing on our own personal morality and transformation.
“The new secular religion teaches macro-morality. One’s morality is not gauged by their private conduct, but rather on their commitment to political causes and collective action to address social problems.
“This system allows us to not worry so much about the strictures on our private lives, while we find salvation on the picket-line. We can signal our finely-tuned moral sensibilities by demonstrating for this cause or that.
“Something happened recently that crystalized the difference between these moral systems. I was attending Mass at a parish I did not usually go to in Washington, D.C. At the end of the Mass, the Chairman of the Social Justice Committee got up to give his report to the parish. He pointed to the growing homeless problem in D.C. and explained that more mobile soup kitchens were needed to feed them.
“This being a Catholic church, I expected him to call for volunteers to go out and provide this need. Instead, he recounted all the visits that the Committee had made to the D.C. government to lobby for higher taxes and more spending to fund mobile soup kitchen.
“A third phenomenon … is the way law is being used as a battering ram to break down traditional moral values and to establish moral relativism as a new orthodoxy.
“First, either through legislation but more frequently through judicial interpretation, secularists have been continually seeking to eliminate laws that reflect traditional moral norms.
“More recently, we have seen the law used aggressively to force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith.
“The problem is not that religion is being forced on others. The problem is that irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith.
“[M]ilitant secularists today do not have a live and let live spirit – they are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take a delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.
“For example, the last Administration sought to force religious employers, including Catholic religious orders, to violate their sincerely held religious views by funding contraceptive and abortifacient coverage in their health plans.
“This refusal to accommodate the free exercise of religion is relatively recent. Just 25 years ago, there was broad consensus in our society that our laws should accommodate religious belief.
“Ground zero for these attacks on religion are the schools.
“The first front relates to the content of public school curriculum. Many states are adopting curriculum that is incompatible with traditional religious principles according to which parents are attempting to raise their children. They often do so without any opt out for religious families … [or] even warn[ing] parents about the lessons they plan to teach on controversial subjects relating to sexual behavior and relationships.
“A second axis of attack in the realm of education are state policies designed to starve religious schools of generally-available funds and encouraging students to choose secular options. [Cites Montana action based on anti-Catholic Blaine provision in its constitution.]
“A third kind of assault on religious freedom in education have been recent efforts to use state laws to force religious schools to adhere to secular orthodoxy. [Cites suit to force Catholic schools to employ teachers in same-sex marriages.]
“[A]s long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will … fight for the most cherished of our liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.”
Until last Sunday night, I was still an agnostic World Series fan.
I have had connections with the Kansas City Royals and the Anaheim Angels over the years I have owned radio stations and I grew up between the Cubs and the Cards.
I have absolutely zero connections with either the Washington Nationals or the Houston Astros. When they both got into the series, I looked forward to a “may the best team win” kind of series.
But when the President attended Game 5 in Washington’s taxpayer-built stadium, he was introduced. And booed.
Those self-entitled Washington dumbasses weren’t actually booing the President as much as they were booing the 63,000,000 of us in real America who elected him.
Washington is a town which is packed with people who want things one way. Their way. They don’t want us interrupting their making a fine living at our expense. Even if it comes down to a baseball game.
Now the President took it very well. He wasn’t the first President to be booed and certainly won’t be the last.
But I’m still more than a little bit pissed off.
Not for the disrespect to the office, which I would have resented for any President.
But for the disrespect to America. That America which is called “flyover country” by those who were doing the booing.
Who, exactly, do these idiots think they are? It looked to me like Washington, D.C. giving the rest of America—at least that part west of the Hudson River, East of the LA County line and South of the Cook County line—an upraised middle finger.
Now, if it were simply about baseball, well, where I grew up, you had to choose up sides between the Cubs and the Cards. I could take it. But we all know it’s not. It’s about the swamp. It’s about people who make a lot of money on our backs both in and out of government but almost always with money which comes from the very people they were booing.
These are the people who—like fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok—say things like “Just went to a Southern Virginia Walmart. I could smell the Trump support.” Which he texted on an FBI cell phone, which we paid for, to his illicit lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, prior to the 2016 election.
Truth be told, they think that Houston is flyover country. Just another place where you could “smell” the Trump support.
Baseball is thought of as our national pastime. Apparently everywhere but Washington DC, where politics is a blood sport and anything which advances those politics goes. In my media life—which started as a sportswriter—I have only seen umpires booed at a baseball game.
And I would have a hard time enumerating the baseball games I have seen save to say it is a very large number. Into five figures.
It’s just not a sport which lends itself to that sort of behavior.
Which makes what happened enough to want to see the Nationals move—perhaps to Las Vegas. D.C. doesn’t deserve a team.
As this is being written, the Nationals have forced a game seven and the series will be won or lost in Houston.
Understand that the players were not booing the President or us. Baseball players can be traded, sent down to the minors or cut at the whim of a General Manager. Indeed, some Washington players GREW UP in Houston.
That said, the Nationals would perform just as well if not better with Las Vegas or any other city except the swamp emblazoned on their jerseys.
And any more stupidity from the so-called “fans” of the Nationals should tell Major League Baseball that such a move would probably not offend the 63,000,000 people who voted for this President.
“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.” –President Thomas Jefferson
Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
“Liberty is the right to do what the law permits.” - Charles D. Montesquieu-Exodus 20
“Wherever Law ends, tyranny begins.” -John Locke
If you are tired of man’s ten thousand commandments, then get back to God's Ten (Exodus 20).
In making a distinction between licentiousness and liberty, Fisher Aimes, the architect of the First Amendment, set the record straight by stating:
“…Licentiousness (Un-restrained by Law or Morality) which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.”
Let me say it this way, “Freedom was given not to do what we wanted to do, but to do what we ought to do."
As America’s treacherous politicians are doing their best to undo what our forefathers established through a clear violation and transgression of their sworn oaths (1 John 3:4), it is amazing to see the number of people in this country today that are willing to submit (Deuteronomy 28:68) to the tyrannies that our forefathers had taught us, by their examples, to resist and to throw off.
Because King George III did not submit to the Lord (Deuteronomy 17:15-20) in his administration and obligations as God’s magistrate towards men (Romans 13:4), our forefathers opposed him.
John Hancock, first signer of the Declaration of Independence said, “Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual… Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which Heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.” (History of the United States of America, Vol. 2 p. 229)
Did they practice what it was that they were preaching (Exodus 20:7; James 2:14-26)? Absolutely they did! Just look to what it was that they would no longer submit to when dealing with the usurpations of the tyrannical king that refused to be ruled by God (Romans 12:21).
The Declaration of Independence...
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. Hebrews 13:7
President Thomas Jefferson (1 of the 5 architects of the Declaration of Independence) also said: “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”
What about the fathers of the faith (Hebrews 11)?
If you have read your Bibles correctly, you must then remember that Moses, the meekest man alive, refused to submit to the Pharaoh by confronting him, as well as commanding him to let the Lord's people go (Exodus 8:1).
After the death of Moses, Joshua was then ordained to bring the children of Israel into the Promised Land by dispossessing the corrupt kings of the land (Joshua 10:16-43).
What about Gideon throwing off the oppressors and their Kings? Judges 8:1-9
What about Samson, again throwing off the Philistines? Judges 16:23
What about Saul and the Philistines? 1 Samuel 14:52
What about David’s victories over the corrupt kings? 1 Chronicles 18
What about Elijah confronting King Ahab and Jezebel on Mount Carmel? 1 Kings 18:16-45
What about Nehemiah and Sanballat and Tobiah? Nehemiah 4
Jeremiah was appointed to confront the powers that were found in Jeremiah 17:19. What was Jeremiah confronting? Corruption!
You must remember the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, where they all refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar and his golden image. Because they did not bow, they did not burn and the country was converted to the Living God (Daniel 3).
What about the prophet Daniel, who was thrown into the lion’s den for not submitting to the king's decree and instead prayed to the Living God (Daniel 6:10)? What was the outcome? The Lord sent an angel to protect Daniel (vs.22) while the accusers were thrown into the lion’s den where Daniel's God was, once again, exalted (Daniel 6).
What about Amos who confronted corruption within both entities of Church and government? Amos 5:12; 7:10
What about Jonah who was commanded by the Lord to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to that nation? Starting from the top to the bottom, they were commanded to repent (Jonah 1:2).
Because John obeyed the Lord and confronted the corrupt king, he taught the people a lesson about what their duties were before God and man (Luke 3:19). In the end, John was decapitated and was liberated in the presence of the Christ whom he loved.
In extreme cases, where the powers that rule were in full force against the children of God, the Lord would even send angels to break them out of prison (Acts 12:5-17).
Paul and Silas, while praising God, experienced an earthquake that would loose them and set them free (Acts 16: 25-26).
Speaking of those who have gone before we look to the price that was paid to liberate us through their sacrifices (John 15:13).
Such was the fate of the apostles, according to the traditional statements.
It is important to remember that every apostle of Christ, except John, was killed by hostile civil authorities that opposed God's government.
Christians have been imprisoned, tortured, or killed by civil authorities for refusing laws that contradicted the Lord's.
I end with a question: What if our forefathers would have submitted to tyranny the way that their posterity has in the present? We would not have the freedom to stand up and right wrongs the way that we still can today.
The high cost of medical care is on the lips of every politician and draining the pocketbooks of most Americans. After creating the Medicare/Medicaid monster, the government’s expanded intervention into the medical care marketplace with the inaptly named Affordable Care Act doubled the premiums and deductibles for both employer-sponsored and individual insurance. Piling on more laws, regulations, and agencies is not the answer.
Anonymity, complexity, and opacity invite shady behavior. Individuals, companies, and patients who defraud the massive federal “health system” would never dream of lifting money from their patients’ wallets or stealing from their doctors’ cash drawer.
The government’s track record does not bode well for imposing more bureaucracy to remedy a problem created by the layers of third-party payer bureaucracy. Waste, fraud, and abuse are so rampant that the government has a Medicare Strike Force to root out and recover lost federal funds. Medicare fraud—about $60 billion in 2016 alone—is about 10 percent of Medicare’s total payments. By contrast the typical private business loses 5 percent of its revenues to fraud. Unfortunately, since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Strike Force has recouped less than $2 billion per year in misappropriated funds.
Medicare’s $16.7 billion per year hospice program is fertile ground for the unscrupulous. Hospices are paid a fixed daily sum for each patient enrolled “regardless of the services provided.” One amoral scheme recruits patients who unknowingly forgo curative treatment options by joining hospice. A recent Office of Inspector General (OIG) report revealed that in 2012 hospices billed Medicare more than $250 million for services to patients in long-term care or assisted-living residences who did not require hospice care, costing four times more than the appropriate level of care. Even worse, the OIG found that the quality of care suffered in 31 percent of programs. The bureaucratic morass allows the perpetrators to pocket the fixed fee and skimp on the services.
Further, the government cannot keep track of its program dollars. According to another OIG audit, in 2009, Medicare Prescription Drug program paid $33.6 million and hospice patients paid $3.8 million for medications that should have been included in the hospice daily fee. Even after discovering the snafu, the problem got exponentially worse. In 2016 the government paid $160.8 million for drugs that hospice organizations should have paid for from its fixed daily fee. Our tax dollars paid for the drugs twice.
Physicians know what patients want and are acting on it. Free from the restraints of government “healthcare” programs, the physician-led, price-transparent, direct-pay Surgery Center of Oklahoma performs some surgeries for less than the copays of some insurance policies. Direct Primary Care physicians provide 24/7 access and basic labs for as little as $50 per month with at-cost medications and low-priced x-rays.
The corporate private sector has learned a thing or two from innovative physicians. Care Accelerator is Sam’s Club’s version of “affordable [medical care] options with transparent pricing.” To offer relief from high out-of-pocket costs, $50 (individual) to $240 per year (families) buys access to lab screening for diabetes and heart disease, free generic drugs, telehealth, and up to a 30 percent discount on vision, dental, and other ancillary services. Additionally, Walmart is training its own employees for jobs in the health sector and ideally to staff Walmart’s own medical services. For their employees, Apple has “health care built around you” with its AC Wellness that offers office and home visits; Amazon launched its Amazon Care telemedicine services.
Given the outrageous price of drugs—largely due to the pharmacy benefit manager middlemen—Good Rx discount coupons are just what the doctor ordered. Good Rx is free to the consumer and makes money from advertisements on the website and referral fees. One typical victory is a Medicare patient whose neurologist prescribed a drug for his Parkinson’s disease symptoms. The government demanded testing that could not be done because of the patients debilitated condition. Despite a sympathetic ear and supporting research, the government arbiter could only parrot the party line: because the drug was not on the “list,” it was not covered by Medicare. In a fortunate twist of fate, with a Good Rx coupon the patient paid $34 per month cash instead of the drug’s $1,100 per month price with 20 percent patient co-pay that would have been charged through the Medicare Prescription Drug program.
Congress claims it plans a full-frontal attack on the high cost of medical care (with the same results as the war on poverty and drugs?). Frankly, we are better off with Congress engrossed in its impeachment clown show and keeping its nose out of our medical business.
Dr. Singleton is a guest columnist. Her opinions are her own. Dr. Singleton is a board-certified anesthesiologist. She is Immediate Past President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). She graduated from Stanford and earned her MD at UCSF Medical School. This is an edited version of her column that originally appeared on pennypress.com. Reprinted with permission.
United States Attorney General Bill Barr recently addressed some important issues at the University of Notre Dame. Excerpts follow (edited for space).
From the Founding Era onward, there was strong consensus about the centrality of religious liberty in the United States.
The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.
They crafted a magnificent charter of freedom – the United States Constitution – which provides for limited government, while leaving “the People” broadly at liberty to pursue our lives both as individuals and through free associations.
This quantum leap in liberty has been the mainspring of unprecedented human progress, not only for Americans, but for people around the world.
In the 20th century, our form of free society has faced a severe test.
Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.
No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.
But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.
So, the Founders decided to take a gamble. They called it a great experiment.
They would leave “the People” broad liberty, limit the coercive power of government, and place their trust in self-discipline and the virtue of the American people.
[I]n the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people.
Modern secularists dismiss this idea of morality as other-worldly superstition imposed by a kill-joy clergy. In fact, Judeo-Christian moral standards are the ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct.
They reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now.
I think we all recognize that over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack.
On the other hand, we see the growing ascendency of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.
By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.
Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.
Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in sense less violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.
[T]he campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.
First is the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay: it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.
These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy, but also to drown out and silence opposing voices, and to attack viciously and hold up to ridicule any dissenters.
One of the ironies … is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on the trappings of a religion, including inquisitions and excommunication.
But today – in the face of all the increasing pathologies – instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have the State in the role of alleviator of bad consequences. We call on the State to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.
So, the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.
The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.
The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and the ersatz father to their children.
The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.
More next week.
I’m not an expert on foreign affairs.
I live in rural Nevada amongst people who believe in America First, Donald Trump, the Second Amendment, self-reliance, generosity, limited government and God.
We are the people about who Barack Obama once said, “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” In short, we’re Hillary’s “deplorables”. The 63,000,000 people who elected Donald Trump.
That said, I’ll bet I know at least as much as the talking heads on TV who know nearly nothing but sure want to tell us how President Trump should conduct an endless war in the Middle East.
Let’s put the Kurds versus Turkey in perspective, as an example.
The Kurds have been fighting the Turks for hundreds if not thousands of years. That’s what they like to do in the Middle East. They’ve been fighting each other so long they probably could not tell you why. They are the Arab version of the Hatfield's and the McCoy's.
Nobody has any real number of how many of each other they have killed.
But, it’s a lot. Maybe as many as a million.
So, our President asked a reasonable question. What are our interests there and why is it worth the life of a single American soldier?
He came up with a reasonable answer. Now that we are a net exporter of oil, we have very limited interests there and they are not worth a warm bucket of spit much less the life of a single American soldier. And, if we need to choose our friends, we have only one true friend in the region—Israel, which we helped found. Occasionally, we can count the Saudis in that category as well, when it suits them.
As for the rest of the area, the historical truth has always been that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. When they need us, they become the enemies of our enemies and suck us into their intramural battles so we can have young American men and women killed to suit their needs—whatever they may be.
Is any of that worth even a single bandage on, much less the life of one American soldier?
It’s not worth a bandage on, much less the life of, one bomb sniffing dog.
So, why are we there? Because we are afraid to fight wars to win them. We apparently learned that in Viet Nam.
After the 9-11 attacks, we—and I mean BOTH sides—made some bad decisions, not the least of which was NOT using weapons to wipe out Al Qaeda which would leave such a lasting scar that these morons would NEVER attack us again. Do we have small tactical nuclear weapons designed to turn a Al Qaeda or ISIS training camp into glass? Of course we do. Unfortunately, we have a State Department which is part of the deep state and would counsel the President such a move would end the world. Why it would be a “violation of the rules of war.” Rules of war? Who are they kidding?
One thing is sure. Like the death penalty, it would make sure that these killer clowns would never harm an innocent civilian again.
And, for the record, 1,600,000 people live today in those two cities we bombed in 1945.
But Harry Truman had the cojones to end the war. I’m guessing that Donald Trump does as well. I’m also guessing he will exhaust every alternative before he reaches into our arsenal that deeply.
By NOT having a President who is part of the failures since Viet Nam, our chances of coming up with both new and old solutions is greatly enhanced.
Of course, I’m not an expert in foreign affairs.
Just last week, I again heard this president talking of our purified democracy. Democracy, Mr. President? Really? When did we become a democracy?
Over and over again and administration after administration, Americans have been continually inundated with this sort of propaganda coming from those who should know the difference (Hosea 4:6).
To say that we are a democracy shows the very pith and marrow of the ignorance that is on a daily display coming from those who are to uphold our enumerated laws found in our constitutional republican form of government.
Architect of the First Amendment Fisher Ames said:
“A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way. The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness (excessive license) which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.”
James Madison, 4th President and Father of our Constitution, said of democracy:
“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security of personal rights of property, and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been in their violent deaths.”
No matter how many times I broadcast this or preach this from the pulpits across the country, I see that the people continuously return to what they are told from these politicians, which are incrementally undermining our constitutional republic by convincing you that we are a democracy (Jeremiah 5:31).
The 3rd President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson said:
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
The 2nd President of the United States, John Adams said:
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.”
Is this what is happening today? Yes, in fact, it is.
Yet again, Americans continually follow the example of those who are perverting this nation's foundations rather than those who established them (Hebrews 13:7).
Now, they are even going so far as to take on a language that is foreign to our US Constitution.
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful…”-George Orwell
The American people, under the tutelage of those who are undermining our foundations, have conditioned themselves to speak the same language as their teachers. In the end, it is designed to divide and conquer.
“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” -Mark 3:25
Now, there are over 101 un-constitutional party affiliations or caucuses (As was a new Muslim Caucus most recently added). Caucus was not a word defined in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary for the Colonies were ruled by ecclesiastical law (Canon Law), not party affiliations. In other words, Americans, we are ruled by constitutional law (Article 6, Section 2, US Constitution), not by your favorite politicians found today in the “Circus of Politics.”
We were warned long ago about taking on this language.
George Washington said, in his 1796 Farewell Address, that political parties “are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
What Washington called “the spirit of party” was, he argued, “inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind”—namely, the tribal passion to separate the world into “we” vs. “they,” into rival and competing groups. This spirit can then easily become a desire to see “our side” win, regardless of whether our side is better than “their side” and regardless of the issues at stake or the facts of the matter.”
President John Adams provided a far more succinct comment on the matter.
"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution." - Letter to Jonathan Jackson (2 October 1780), "The Works of John Adams", vol 9, p.511
How is it that the un-Constitutional, two-party system is set up today? In contrast, to its original intent (Jeremiah 6:16).
In the United States Constitution, Article 4, Section 4, US Constitution it states:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive, against domestic Violence.
The CDC reported this week that teen suicide rose 58% over the years 2007-2017 in the age group 10-24. Although many experts blame social media and teen drug use, one theory may need to be considered: nicotine withdrawal from vaping.
Millions of middle school and high school students admit to vaping…and many more are assumed who don’t admit to it when surveyed. So we have an underestimation of how many adolescents take regular hits of their electronic cigarette, exposing them to the powerful, addictive nicotine. One pod, placed in an electronic cigarette to be vaped, contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Hence if a pod is smoked at school, and when the child is home goes hours without, they may “come down” off the nicotine high that they had hours earlier.
In 2002 Picciotto et al discussed how nicotine can affect mood swings, anxiety and depression, where in some cases it can act as an antidepressant but when one withdrawals from it can have increased and anxiety and depression.
The teenage mind and psyche is still developing during this time and a chemical dependency could muddy the mental health waters.
There’s no doubt social media and the misconception teens have that their lives are not as glorious as those who they view online is contributing to lack of confidence, poor self-esteem and depression. But the decision to commit suicide may also be chemically induced, or a withdrawal of one and should be investigated.
A study from New York University found the nicotine in electronic cigarettes to cause DNA damage similar to cigarette smoking.
Dr. Moon-shong Tang and his colleagues exposed mice to e-cig smoke during a three-month period, 5 days a week for three hours a day. They found these mice, compared to those breathing filtered air, to have DNA damage to cells in their bladders, lungs and hearts. The amount of nicotine inhaled was approximately 10mg/ml. That dose would be commonly consumed by many humans who vape.
They then looked at human bladder and lung cells and found tumor cells were able to grow more easily once exposed to nicotine and vaping chemicals.
Last May, researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville found e-cig smoke to increase one’s risk of bladder cancer.
In 2015, the University of Minnesota identified chemicals commonly found in e-cig vapor to include:
Although electronic cigarette “juice” may appear safe, it could produce harmful chemicals once heated to become a vapor.
A lethal dose of nicotine for an adult ranges from 30-60 mg and varied for children (0.5-1.0 mg/kg can be a lethal dosage for adults, and 0.1 mg/kg for children). E-cigs, depending on their strengths (0 – 5.4%) could contain up to 54 mg of nicotine per cartridge (a 1.8% e -cig would contain 18mg/ml).
The topic of nicotine increasing one’s vulnerability to cancer is nothing new as decades ago researchers found nicotine to affect the cilia (brush border) along the respiratory tree, preventing mucus production and a sweeping out of carcinogens trying to make their way down to the lungs.
More research needs to be performed but this recent report reminds us that exposing our delicate lung tissue and immune system to vaping chemicals may not be as safe as we think.
For more on the study read here.
Last week, experts warned that many chemicals in vaping liquid may change to toxic substances (once heated) that can irritate the lungs.
Last year one study reported that toxic levels of lead and other metals may leak from the heating coil element into the vapor inhaled during e-cig use.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found these metals to include:
We’ve known for some time that vaping fluid could contain chemicals that turn toxic once heated, but this study shed light on e-cig metal components causing metal leakage to the vapor making contact with delicate respiratory epithelium (lining).
Reported by Forbes, Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, stated the following, “the FDA does not currently test any of the most popular vaping and e-cigarette instruments being manufactured at unregulated factories in Asia that source low-grade parts, batteries, and materials for the production of these devices,” suggesting that “the metal and parts composition of these devices must be stringently tested for toxic analytes and corrosive compounds.”
These chemicals may act as neurotoxins, affecting our nervous system, cause tissue necrosis (cell death) and even multi-organ failure. Moreover, they can affect how our immune system reacts to other chemicals as well as foreign pathogens, affecting our ability to fight other diseases.
Although studies have suggested e-cig vapor to be safer than tobacco smoke, not enough research has been done, in the relatively few years vaping has been around, looking at how heat-transformed chemicals and leaked metals affect our breathing, lungs and other organs once absorbed into the body.
Let’s say that all you knew about Adolf Hitler was that he painted scenic pictures, postcards, and houses in Vienna, loved dogs and named his adorable German Shepard “Blondie,” and frequently expressed solidarity with “the people.” You might sport a T-shirt adorned with his image if you thought such a charismatic chap was also good-looking in a beret. But your education would be widely regarded as incomplete.
If you later found out that the guy on your T-shirt was a mass murderer, you might ask your oppression studies professor why she left out a few important details.
This hypothetical resembles a real-world phenomenon seen today on numerous college campuses. Fifty-two years after his demise in Bolivia—on October 9, 1967—the maniacal socialist Ernesto “Che” Guevara is still making headlines and spoiling perfectly good clothes.
In film and pop culture, Che comes off as an adventurous motorcyclist, a humble-living commoner, a romantic egalitarian revolutionary, and a swashbuckling sex symbol. His ghastly history as one of Fidel Castro’s favorite thugs routinely gets whitewashed because, in spite of all the murders, he supposedly had good intentions (read: hate the rich, concentrate power, eliminate dissent, help the poor by creating more of them).
In his remarkable 2007 volume, Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him, acclaimed journalist Humberto Fontova contrasted the fiction with the facts in these terms:
Who Was “Che” Guevara?
Myth: International man of the people. Humanitarian. Brave freedom fighter. Lover of literature and life. Advocate of the poor and oppressed.
Reality: Cold-blooded murderer. Sadistic torturer. Power-hungry materialist. Terrorist who inspired destruction and bloodshed through Latin America.
Here are some lesser-known info bits about the psychopath-on-the-T-shirt, drawn from Fontova’s book and other sources:
Fidel Castro appointed Che Guevara as communist Cuba’s first “Economics Minister” and president of the country’s National Bank. Within months, the Cuban peso was practically worthless. Castro appointed him Minister of Industries, too. In that job, Che proved equally incompetent. He once bought a fleet of snowplows from Czechoslovakia because he thought they would make excellent sugar cane harvesters but, sadly, the machines simply squashed and killed the plants.
Che was Castro’s economic czar, though he knew nothing about economics beyond Marxist bumper stickers. His former deputy Ernesto Betancourt said Che was “ignorant of the most elementary economic principles.” Nonetheless, he actually wrote communist Cuba’s agrarian reform law, limiting the size of all farms and creating state-run communes. Production plummeted and is still lower today than before the revolution.
The Soviet missiles in Cuba that nearly precipitated a world war in 1962 were Che’s idea. When the Soviets were pressured by the Kennedy administration to remove them, Che publicly declared that if the missiles had been under Cuban control, they would have been fired at the US because the cause of socialism was worth “millions of atomic-war victims.”
Che left Cuba in 1965 to foment violent insurrections first in Africa and then back in Latin America. He was captured by the Bolivian military on October 8, 1967, and administered a dose of his own summary medicine the next day.
Bottom line: Think twice (actually, just once ought to be enough) about adding a Che Guevara T-shirt to your Christmas giving this year.
Lawrence W. Reed is President Emeritus, Humphreys Family Senior Fellow, and Ron Manners Ambassador for Global Liberty at the Foundation for Economic Education. His opinions are his own. This article originally appeared on fee.org, then pennypress. Reprinted with permission.