12 October 2009

Congress and Pay-Do

Since the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out with an estimate on Thursday that the Buacus health insurance reform bill would cost only $829 billion over 10 years, there seems to be an attitude that if America can pay for it, it should do it. It is as if money were the only important factor when it comes to health care, insurance, and government intervention.

For the moment, I'll put aside the fact that each of the Democrat proposed bills doesn't provide a shred of increased health insurance coverage until 2013 - though there's a 10-year price tag attached. I'll also put aside that the CBO's estimate is not based on legislative language, but rather a rough outline of what might end up in the bill. And I'll put aside as well the notion that anyone will be able to read - let alone "score" - the final bill before it becomes law; our lawmakers will make sure the bill doesn't see the public stage in final form until President Obama has signed it.

Putting all of that aside, one must still ask if massive government run "reform" is what's needed. Do the American people want or need more federal intervention into everyday life?

Forget the extension to the above question which would qualify it: would the intervention be for the "good" of the people or would it be "detrimental". Or, if that qualification must be invoked, why should the federal government, and the people who run it, be given the power to make decisions on what is individually beneficial? What is individually beneficial to me may well not be the same as what is beneficial to my neighbor, let alone someone 1,000 miles away. Yet here we are on the doorstep where one size fits all, "universal" health care...um, pardon me, insurance reform...may be imposed universally.

In my mind, the most important question when it comes to any government action is not if it can be paid for. The most important question is should the government do it? Is it the right and proper role of government to impose (insert random "reform" project for the "betterment" of the electorate here) upon the American people? When it comes to health care insurance reform, my answer is that the government is already too involved. A bit of deregulation is needed, more choices are needed- like the choice to buy across state lines and have tax exemptions for individually purchased health insurance. Those types of things, options outside of government imposed and "managed" plans, would increase individual liberty. But it appears that is not what is wanted by those in Washington D.C. who are attempting to "help" the lamentable electorate. So help they will - never mind the loss of liberty.

09 October 2009

Real World (War) and the Imaginary (Peace)

On the same day that we find out President Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize would be the perfect day for him to approve General McChrystal's request for more troops in Afghanistan.

Perfect because, according to the AP, the choice of Mr. Obama for the Nobel seems to be for "initiatives that have yet to bear fruit" in the real world. Indeed, it is unclear just how Mr. Obama's international outreach program will impact world affairs. To some at home, it seems that Mr. Obama denigrates the U.S. and its most recent former president as a matter of course. This tactic might make for flowery speeches but it does little to advance U.S. interests; indeed, it damages them.

Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Committee, cited Mr. Obama's work toward nuclear disarmament as a reason for his selection, along with giving the American people "hope for a better future" - the "h" word had to come in at some point. But there seems to be little change on the nuclear front. North Korea and Iran are still on the same trajectory as they were under Mr. Bush.

It seems that the current president is inexerably linked to him immediate predicessor. One might argue that there would be no President Obama without President Bush. It seems clear that Mr. Obama would not have won his Nobel if it were not for his predecessor.

So on this day, it would be a fitting irony if Mr. Obama were to grant General McChrystal's request for more troops in full. But with as much hemming and hawing coming out of the White House regarding "the good war" in Afghanistan, I'm nto so sure that the Commander in Chief understands a paradox of military operations: using a great amount of force in the proper place at the proper time actually saves situations from further violence. This lesson should have been learned from Kosovo. It should have been learned from Iraq. I think perhaps Generals McChrystal and Patraeus understand this. If Mr. Obama were to actually earn his peace prize, he must understand how to wage war.