Posts Tagged ‘value’

The Three Fingers Pointing Back At Atheists When Atheists Point A Finger At Christians About Evil And Judgment

March 24, 2011

You’ve probably heard that expression, “When you point a finger at me, three fingers are pointing back at you.”  Let’s work with that today.

I recently wrote an article with the deliberately provocative title, “Atheist Country Japan Smashed By Tsunami.”

It generated quite a few cross postings to atheist blogs and forums.

One recent example attacked Christians as being “happy” that Japan was stricken by disaster, and, in linking to my blog, said:

Of course, maybe it’s because of all teh gay [sic] in Japan, or because the Japanese are all atheists. Or maybe it’s because they worship demons.

What a nasty, horrible God is the one in which they believe. What nasty, horrible sentiments they have expressed in the wake of so much suffering by their fellow human beings. What a nasty, cynical thing they do to promote their own religion by using this tragedy and other recent catastrophic events to “win converts” for Jesus.

Naming them charlatans and hypocrites does not do justice to the utter lack of compassion that resides in their hearts.

And the blogger cites my blog as an example of a fundamentalist who argues that God struck Japan “because the Japanese are all atheists.”

Well, first thing, did I actually even say that?  I quote myself from that article:

But is Japan’s unbelief the reason why Japan just got hit with an awful tsunami?

My answer is, “How on earth should I know?”

I cite passages of Scripture that clearly indicate that a disaster does not necessarily mean that God is judging someone, such as Luke 13:1-5.  I could have just as easily also cited passages such as John 9:1-3 about Jesus’ distinction between suffering and sin.  I could have cited 2 Peter 3:9, describing God’s patience with sinners rather than His haste to judge.  These passages aren’t at all out of tune with what I was saying.  And I actually DO single out by name for criticism men like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell who have immediately pronounced the wrath of God following some disaster.

I begin my article saying, “That headline is a deliberate provoker.  But please let me explain why I used that headline before you erupt one way or another.”  Then I proceed to state two undisputed facts: that Japan is atheist, and that Japan got hit by a disaster.  I urge someone to actually read the article and reflect on the possibilities.  But Boomantribune is an example of most of the atheists who cross-posted or commented to my article by NOT being someone who wanted to read or reflect; he or she is someone who refused to look beneath atheist ideology and immediately began demonizing the other side to “win converts” for his religion of atheism.  [And let's get this straight: atheism IS a religion.  "Religion" does not need to depend upon belief in God, or Buddhism would not qualify as a religion.  The courts have ruled that atheism is a religion, and it is a simple fact that atheism has every component that any religious system has].

You can’t have a valid argument with someone like Boomantribune, I have learned.  They are either too ignorant, or too dishonest, or both to accurately represent the other side’s position or arguments.  They create straw men and then demolish claims that Christians like me aren’t even making.

Boomantribune viciously attacks me as harboring the “nasty, horrible sentiments they have expressed in the wake of so much suffering by their fellow human beings.”  But I end my article on Japan by saying:

You need that gift of divine grace.  I need that gift of divine grace.  And the people of Japan desperately need it today.

I pray for those who are in Japan.  I pray for their deliverance from both the tsunami and from their unbelief.  And I will join with many other Christians who will send relief to the Japanese people, with prayers that they will look not at me, but at the Jesus who changed my heart and my life, and inspired me to give to others.

It is also a simple fact that religious people are FAR more giving than atheists:

In the US, anyway, they don’t. Here’s just one study, done in 2003: The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions…Note that neither political ideology nor income is responsible for much of the charitable differences between secular and religious people. For example, religious liberals are 19 points more likely than secular liberals to give to charity, while religious conservatives are 28 points more likely than secular conservatives to do so…The average annual giving among the religious is $2,210, whereas it is $642 among the secular. Similarly, religious people volunteer an average of 12 times per year, while secular people volunteer an average of 5.8 times.

And this is “secular” people who aren’t particularly religious.  A lot of people rarely ever go to church, but still believe in God (basically 90% of Americans belive in God).  Since the evidence is rather straightforward that the more religious one is, the more giving one is, it is justified to conclude that atheists who are less religious than the merely “secular” are even LESS giving.

And, guess what?  My church has already taken its first of several offerings for Japan, and I have already given – and plan to give again.

I would also point out a couple of historical facts:

Christians actually began the first hospitals.

More hospitals have been founded by Christians than by followers of every other religion – including atheism – combined.

That said:

Atheist doctors are more than twice as likely to pull the plug on someone than a doctor who believes in God.

So just who is being “horrible” here?

Here’s another example of an atheist attack on me that backfired, followed by the dishonest atheist “cutting and running” from his own attack:

For what it’s worth, I have never withdrawn a single post:

Also, unlike too many blogs – particularly leftwing blogs, in my experience – I don’t delete anything. When the Daily Kos hatefully attacked Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol and claimed that Bristol Palin had been impregnated by her own father with a baby, and that Sarah Palin faked being pregnant – only to have that hateful and vile lie blown away by Bristol giving birth to a child of her own – they scrubbed it like nothing had happened.

I’m not that despicable. Every single article I have ever written remains on my blog. And with all due respect, I think that gives me more credibility, not less: I don’t hit and run and then scrub the evidence of my lies.

If I post something that turns out to be wrong, I don’t destroy the evidence; I stand up and take responsibility for my words.  I apologize and correct the record.  As I did in the case above.

That, by the way, is the first finger, the finger of moral dishonesty pointing back at these atheists. 

That’s not the way the other side plays.  History is replete with atheist regimes (e.g. ANY of the officially state atheist communist regimes) destroying the record and any debate; history is replete with atheist-warped “science” making one claim after another that turned out to be entirely false.  As examples, consider Java Man, Nebraska Man, Piltdown Man, Peking Man and the various other hoaxes that the “scientific community rushed to embrace in their rush to falsify theism.  In some cases “scientists” created an entire community - or even an entire race of people - around totally bogus evidence in “It takes a village” style.  There was the bogus notion of “uniformitarianism” by which the “scientific community” ridiculed creationists for decades until it was proven wrong by Eugene Shoemaker who documented that the theory of “catastrophism” that they had advanced for millennia had been correct all along.  And then all of a sudden the same evolutionary theory that had depended upon uniformitarianism suddenly morphed into a theory that depended upon catastrophism. It morphed so that it was equally true with both polar opposites.

Then there’s this:

Ann Coulter pointed it out with the false claim that evolution was “falsifiable” versus any religious claim which was not. Darwin said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” And Ann Coulter brilliantly changed a couple of words to demonstrate what a load of crap that was: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by God, my God theory would absolutely break down.”

In any words, evolution is no more “scientifically falsifiable” than even the most ardent young earth creationist claim. Their standard is impossible to prove. I mean, you show me that God “could not possibly have” created the earth.

The whole way they sold evolution was a lie.

There is NEVER an admission of guilt or an acknowledgment of error by these people.  They simply suppress or destroy the evidence, or “morph” their argument, or anything but acknowledge that just maybe they should be open-minded and question their presuppositions.

There is the extremely rare admission:

For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. -Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers

But those are extremely rare, indeed.  The rest of the atheist-assuming “scientific community” is all about saying, “Move on, folks.  Nothing to see here.  Why don’t you look at our new sleight-of-hand display over in this corner instead?”

Phillip Johnson, in a very good article, points out how the “bait-and-switch” works:

Supporting the paradigm may even require what in other contexts would be called deception. As Niles Eldredge candidly admitted, “We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports [the story of gradual adaptive change], all the while knowing it does not.”[ 1] Eldredge explained that this pattern of misrepresentation occurred because of “the certainty so characteristic of evolutionary ranks since the late 1940s, the utter assurance not only that natural selection operates in nature, but that we know precisely how it works.” This certainty produced a degree of dogmatism that Eldredge says resulted in the relegation to the “lunatic fringe” of paleontologists who reported that “they saw something out of kilter between contemporary evolutionary theory, on the one hand, and patterns of change in the fossil record on the other.”[ 2] Under the circumstances, prudent paleontologists understandably swallowed their doubts and supported the ruling ideology. To abandon the paradigm would be to abandon the scientific community; to ignore the paradigm and just gather the facts would be to earn the demeaning label of “stamp collector.”

[...]

Naturalistic philosophy has worked out a strategy to prevent this problem from arising: it labels naturalism as science and theism as religion. The former is then classified as knowledge, and the latter as mere belief. The distinction is of critical importance, because only knowledge can be objectively valid for everyone; belief is valid only for the believer, and should never be passed off as knowledge. The student who thinks that 2 and 2 make 5, or that water is not made up of hydrogen and oxygen, or that the theory of evolution is not true, is not expressing a minority viewpoint. He or she is ignorant, and the job of education is to cure that ignorance and to replace it with knowledge. Students in the public schools are thus to be taught at an early age that “evolution is a fact,” and as time goes by they will gradually learn that evolution means naturalism.

In short, the proposition that God was in any way involved in our creation is effectively outlawed, and implicitly negated. This is because naturalistic evolution is by definition in the category of scientific knowledge. What contradicts knowledge is implicitly false, or imaginary. That is why it is possible for scientific naturalists in good faith to claim on the one hand that their science says nothing about God, and on the other to claim that they have said everything that can be said about God. In naturalistic philosophy both propositions are at bottom the same. All that needs to be said about God is that there is nothing to be said of God, because on that subject we can have no knowledge.

I stand behind a tradition that has stood like an anvil while being pounded by one generation of unbelievers after another.  That tradition remains constant because it is founded upon the unchanging Word of God.  My adversaries constantly change and morph their positions, all the while just as constantly claiming that their latest current iteration is correct.

That is the second finger of intellectual dishonesty which so thoroughly characterizes atheism and anything atheism seems to contaminate with its assumptions.

Lastly, there is the finger of ethical dishonesty that is the ocean that the “walking fish” of atheism swims in.  [Btw, when I see that fish riding a bicycle I'll buy their "walking fish" concept].

Basically, for all the “moral outrage” of atheists who want to denounce Christians for their God’s “evil judgments,” atheism itself has absolutely no moral foundation to do so whatsoever.  And the bottom line is that they are people who attack the five-thousand year tradition of Scripture with their feet firmly planted in midair.

William Lane Craig provides a devastating existential ethical refutation of atheism in an article I posted entitled, “The Absurdity of Life without God.”

To put it simply, William Lane Craig demolishes any shred of a claim that atheism can offer any ultimate meaning, any ultimate value, or any ultimate purpose whatsoever.  And so atheism denounces Christianity and religion from the foundation of an entirely empty and profoundly worthless worldview.  Everyone should read this incredibly powerful article.  I guarantee you will learn something, whatever your perspective on religion.

The thing I would say is that atheists denounce God and Christians from some moral sort of moral posture.  Which comes from what, exactly?  Darwinism, or more precisely, social Darwinism?  The survival of the fittest?  A foundation that comes from the “secure” footing of a random, meaningless, purposeless, valueless and entirely accidental existence?

As atheists tee off on God and at Christians for being “nasty” and “horrible,” what is their foundation from which to judge?

First of all, what precisely would make one a “nasty” or “horrible” atheist? 

Joseph Stalin was an atheist:

“God’s not unjust, he doesn’t actually exist. We’ve been deceived. If God existed, he’d have made the world more just… I’ll lend you a book and you’ll see.”

Mao Tse Tung was an atheist:

“Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people. If they stand up and dig together with us, why can’t these two mountains be cleared away?”  [Mao Tse Tung, Little Red Book, "Self-Reliance and Arduous Struggle chapter 21"].

Hitler was an atheist:

Hitler described to them that “after difficult inner struggles I had freed myself of my remaining childhood religious conceptions. I feel as refreshed now as a foal on a meadow” (Ernst Helmreich, “The German Churches Under Hitler,” p. 285).

Joseph Goebbels, a top member of Hitler’s inner circle, noted in his personal diary, dated 8 April 1941 that “The Führer is a man totally attuned to antiquity. He hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity.”  Now, one may easily lie to others, but why lie to your own private diary?

Goebbels also notes in a diary entry in 1939 a conversation in which Hitler had “expressed his revulsion against Christianity. He wished that the time were ripe for him to be able to openly express that. Christianity had corrupted and infected the entire world of antiquity.”

Hitler also said, “Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.” [Hitler's Table Talk, Enigma Books; 3rd edition October 1, 2000, p. 343].

Albert Speer, another Nazi in Hitler’s intimate inner circle, stated that Hitler said, “You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion… Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?”

Konrad Heiden quoted Hitler as stating, “We do not want any other god than Germany itself.” [Heiden, Konrad A History of National Socialism, A.A. Knopf, 1935, p. 100].

Now, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao were terrible, despicable, evil people.  But what made them ” bad atheists,” precisely?

When Mao infamously expressed this attitude -

“The atom bomb is nothing to be afraid of,” Mao told Nehru, “China has many people. . . . The deaths of ten or twenty million people is nothing to be afraid of.” A witness said Nehru showed shock. Later, speaking in Moscow, Mao displayed yet more generosity: he boasted that he was willing to lose 300 million people, half of China’s population.” [Annie Dillard, “The Wreck of Time” in Harper’s from January 1998].

- or when Joseph Stalin was similarly quoted as having said:

“One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.”

- were these men who were responsible for some 100 million deaths of their own people during peacetime expressing anything that violated some principle of Darwinian evolution, or the morality that derives from the ethic of survival of the fittest?

Mao put his disregard for human life and the lives of his own people to terrible work:

LEE EDWARDS, CHAIRMAN, VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM MEMORIAL FOUNDATION: In 1959 to 1961 was the so-called “great leap forward” which was actually a gigantic leap backwards in which he tried to collectivize and communize agriculture.

And they came to him after the first year and they said, “Chairman, five million people have died of famine.” He said, “No matter, keep going.” In the second year, they came back and they said, “Ten million Chinese have died.” He said, “No matter, continue.” The third year, 20 million Chinese have died. And he said finally, “Well, perhaps this is not the best idea that I’ve ever had.”

CHANG: When he was told that, you know, his people were dying of starvation, Mao said, “Educate the peasants to eat less. Thus they can benefit – they can fertilize the land.”

Did that somehow disqualify him from being an atheist?  How?  Based on what foundation?

Let me simply point out that the most evil human beings in human history and the most murderous and oppressive political regimes in human history have the strange tendency to be atheist.  It would seem to me that these atheists should frankly do a lot less talking smack and a lot more shutting the hell up.  But two verses from Scripture illustrate why they don’t: 1) The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 14:1) and 2) “A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind” (Proverbs 18:2).

Let’s talk about “evil” for a few moments.  I have already begun addressing the “third finger” that points back at atheists when they denounce Christians or God.  But the idea of “evil” makes that “finger” the middle one.

Christians talk about evil.  A lot of people do.  Even atheists routinely do.  But what is their foundation for evil?  What is “evil”?  Most give answers such as, “Murder or rape is evil.”  But those would at best only qualify as examples of evil – not a definition that would allow us to make moral judgments.  Christians have an actual answer.  They point out that “evil” is a perversion from the way things ought to be.  But what “oughtness” is there in a random, purposeless, meaningless and valueless universe that was spat out by nothing more than pure chance?

Let’s just say at this point that the atheists are right in what is in reality a straw man attack of God?  So what?  I ask “so what?” because even if what they were saying were somehow true, by what standard would either God or Christians be “nasty” or “horrible”?  What is the objective, transcendent standard that stands above me, that stands above every Christian on the planet, that stands above the entire human race across time and space and holds it accountable, such that if Christians or even God do X or say Y, or believe Z they are “nasty” or “horrible”?

It turns out that they don’t have one.  And in fact, their very worldview goes so far as to literally deny the very possibility of one.  At best – and I would argue at worst – we are trapped in a world in which might makes right, and the most powerful dictator gets to make the rules.  Because there is nothing above man that judges man and says, “This is the way, walk in it.”  There is only other men – and men disagree with one another’s standards – leaving us with pure moral relativism. 

And if moral relativism is true, then the atheists STILL lose.  It would be a tie, given that atheists have no more claim to being “good” than any other human being or group of human beings, no matter how despicable and murderous they might be.  But they would lose because there are a lot fewer atheists (137 million) than there are, say, Christians (2.3 billion).  And it only remains for Christians to disregard their superior moral and ethical system just long enough to rise up and annihilate all the smart-mouthed atheists, and then say afterward, “Boy, we sure feel guilty for having done THAT.  Let’s pray for forgiveness!”  And the only possible defense atheists would have would be to abandon their “survival of the fittest” mentality and embrace superior Christian morality and cry out, “Thou shalt not kill!”

Even if Christians don’t wipe out the atheists physically, most would readily agree that the Christian worldview is still far stronger than the atheist one.  Dinesh D’Souza makes a great argument to illustrate this on pages 15-16 of What’s So Great About Christianity that shows why religion is clearly the best team.  He says to imagine two communities – one filled with your bitter, cynical atheists who believe that morality just happened to evolve and could have evolved very differently; and one filled with Bible-believing Christians who embrace that life and their lives have a purpose in the plan of a righteous God who put His moral standards in our hearts. And he basically asks, “Which community is going to survive and thrive?”

As a Christian, I don’t have all the answers (although I can certainly answer the question immediately above).  I am a human being and my mind cannot contain the infinite plan of an infinitely complex and holy God.  But I have placed my trust in a God who made the world and who has a plan for His creation which He is bringing to fruition.  And that worldview doesn’t just give me explanatory powers that atheism by its very nature entirely lacks, but it gives me a strength that I never had before.  Even when evil and disaster and suffering befall me beyond my ability to comprehend, I can say with Job – the master of suffering:

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last.  And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!  I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!”  Job 19:25-27 (NLT).

Fearfully And Wonderfully Made: From Conception To Birth

October 30, 2010

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well” — Psalm 139:13-14

Does human life begin as worthless “byproducts of conception”?  Does human life only have value if someone is working and producing? (watch out, liberals!  Because most of the Democrat base would be exterminated on a ‘yes’ response!).  Or is human life of incommensurably precious value?

Please watch this six minute Youtube video.  I strongly suggest you turn down the volume level!

If your life began as something that is so valueless that your own mother can destroy you like a disease while the defied State smiles down benevolently, then why do you think that your life has any value whatsoever now?

You were once an embryo.  And if your mother had aborted you, you would have died.

My life has value not because of what I have done, but because of what I am: because I am a human being.  My human dignity is not utilitarian; it is ontological.  Which is why Jews, people on welfare and senior citizens shouldn’t be marched off to the gas chamber.  Nor am I any more “human” today than I ever was as an embryo, as an infant, as a teenager.  When I was in my mother’s womb, I was “human” by virtue of my parents, and a “being” by virtue of the fact that I was a living thing.  Now and from the moment of conception, I am and have been a human being.

Here is a 21-week old “product of conception” reaching out of his womb during surgery to grasp the finger of his surgeon:

Today, that “product of conception” is 11-years old and goes by the name Samuel Armas:

Had Samuel’s mother chosen to abort him rather than choosing surgery to cure his spina bifida in utero, Samuel would have died.  He never would have had a chance to live and play and win medals for swimming:

Here’s another “product of conception” who actually survived an abortion.  This one-time aborted fetus is now 33 years old and calls herself Gianna Jessen:

Gianna wouldn’t be here today if her murder-attempt-by-abortion had succeeded.  She would have been killed by her own mother.  As it turned out, forgiveness of what was done to her is part of her beautiful human spirit.

Don’t be “pro-choice.”  Hitler was pro-choice.  Only Hitler didn’t wipe out nearly as many human beings as the fifty-two million innocent babies annihilated by the abortion movement in America.

Celebrate life.  Cherish life.  Celebrate and cherish the dignity of the human spirit.  Stand with me against the culture of death otherwise known as abortion.

It’s Official: Palestinians Recognize One Jew Is Worth One Thousand Palestinans

December 21, 2009

What’s a Jew worth these days?

According to Hamas, a Jew is worth one thousand Palestinians.

Israeli Cabinet ministers debate whether to trade 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for lone soldier

By AMY TEIBEL , Associated Press
Last update: December 21, 2009 – 2:44 PM

JERUSALEM – Negotiations for an Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange entered a crucial stage Monday, with Israeli Cabinet ministers huddling to decide whether to accept Islamic militants’ demand to swap 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for a lone Israeli serviceman.

A decision to pay that lopsided price for 23-year-old Sgt. Gilad Schalit could reshuffle Mideast politics in unpredictable ways and possibly ease a punishing blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu and six Cabinet ministers convened again after nightfall Monday, the latest in a series of sessions over the past two days in a frenzy of activity that suggested a deal could be close. The group was divided, however, with some ministers opposed freeing Palestinians convicted in fatal attacks, arguing they could kill again.

It seemed likely the prime minister would bring the final decision to a vote in his full Cabinet. As the Monday evening meeting began, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying, “The prime minister will continue to protect Israel’s security and the lives of its citizens as the most important factor” in a decision over the soldier, a possible hint that he was leaning against approval of the deal.

A Palestinian close to the negotiations said a German mediator carrying a proposal approved by Hamas has set a Wednesday deadline for Israeli action. The Palestinian, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said there would be no further negotiations. [...]

That’s not very good for Palestinians, to be worth only one-one thousandth of a Jew.

I mean, it’s not just sub-human, it’s sub sub-human.

I suppose if they are willing to officially acknowledge this, then I should, too.

I also suppose it could forge a new understanding in Israeli-Arab relations: for every single Jew killed, one thousand Arabs should die to balance the scales.

It is beyond a moral crime that Palestinians have so little regard for the value of their own lives that they send their children out to blow themselves up to murder other lives.

Human beings and legitimate governments value the lives of their citizens.  That’s why Israel would even consider this crazy and frankly evil one-sided trade.  And it’s why a loathsome and vile terrorist state would issue such immoral demands recognizing the total lack of value for their own people.

Wall St. Journal Bursts The Obama Bubble: ObamaCare Is All About Rationing

August 19, 2009

Reading through this article, you begin to come to two conclusions: 1) the problem with the costs of health care is NOT that there is too LITTLE government involvement in health care, but rather too MUCH, namely due to stupid government regulations that end up raising costs by undermining individual responsibility; 2) the people who most stand in the way of legitimate health care reform that would really work is Democrats and their special interest allies, such as organized labor.

ObamaCare Is All About Rationing
Overspending is far preferable to artificially limiting the availability of new procedures and technologies.

By MARTIN FELDSTEIN

Although administration officials are eager to deny it, rationing health care is central to President Barack Obama’s health plan. The Obama strategy is to reduce health costs by rationing the services that we and future generations of patients will receive.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report in June explaining the Obama administration’s goal of reducing projected health spending by 30% over the next two decades. That reduction would be achieved by eliminating “high cost, low-value treatments,” by “implementing a set of performance measures that all providers would adopt,” and by “directly targeting individual providers . . . (and other) high-end outliers.”

The president has emphasized the importance of limiting services to “health care that works.” To identify such care, he provided more than $1 billion in the fiscal stimulus package to jump-start Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) and to finance a federal CER advisory council to implement that idea. That could morph over time into a cost-control mechanism of the sort proposed by former Sen. Tom Daschle, Mr. Obama’s original choice for White House health czar. Comparative effectiveness could become the vehicle for deciding whether each method of treatment provides enough of an improvement in health care to justify its cost.

In the British national health service, a government agency approves only those expensive treatments that add at least one Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) per £30,000 (about $49,685) of additional health-care spending. If a treatment costs more per QALY, the health service will not pay for it. The existence of such a program in the United States would not only deny lifesaving care but would also cast a pall over medical researchers who would fear that government experts might reject their discoveries as “too expensive.”

One reason the Obama administration is prepared to use rationing to limit health care is to rein in the government’s exploding health-care budget. Government now pays for nearly half of all health care in the U.S., primarily through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The White House predicts that the aging of the population and the current trend in health-care spending per beneficiary would cause government outlays for Medicare and Medicaid to rise to 15% of GDP by 2040 from 6% now. Paying those bills without raising taxes would require cutting other existing social spending programs and shelving the administration’s plans for new government transfers and spending programs.

The rising cost of medical treatments would not be such a large burden on future budgets if the government reduced its share in the financing of health services. Raising the existing Medicare and Medicaid deductibles and coinsurance would slow the growth of these programs without resorting to rationing. Physicians and their patients would continue to decide which tests and other services they believe are worth the cost.

There is, of course, no reason why limiting outlays on Medicare and Medicaid requires cutting health services for the rest of the population. The idea that they must be cut in parallel is just an example of misplaced medical egalitarianism.

But budget considerations aside, health-economics experts agree that private health spending is too high because our tax rules lead to the wrong kind of insurance. Under existing law, employer payments for health insurance are deductible by the employer but are not included in the taxable income of the employee. While an extra $100 paid to someone who earns $45,000 a year will provide only about $60 of after-tax spendable cash, the employer could instead use that $100 to pay $100 of health-insurance premiums for that same individual. It is therefore not surprising that employers and employees have opted for very generous health insurance with very low copayment rates.

Since a typical 20% copayment rate means that an extra dollar of health services costs the patient only 20 cents at the time of care, patients and their doctors opt for excessive tests and other inappropriately expensive forms of care. The evidence on health-care demand implies that the current tax rules raise private health-care spending by as much as 35%.

The best solution to this problem of private overconsumption of health services would be to eliminate the tax rule that is causing the excessive insurance and the resulting rise in health spending. Alternatively, Congress could strengthen the incentives in the existing law for health savings accounts with high insurance copayments. Either way, the result would be more cost-conscious behavior that would lower health-care spending.

But unlike reductions in care achieved by government rationing, individuals with different preferences about health and about risk could buy the care that best suits their preferences. While we all want better health, the different choices that people make about such things as smoking, weight and exercise show that there are substantial differences in the priority that different people attach to health.

Although there has been some talk in Congress about limiting the current health-insurance exclusion, the administration has not supported the idea. The unions are particularly vehement in their opposition to any reduction in the tax subsidy for health insurance, since they regard their ability to negotiate comprehensive health insurance for their members as a major part of their raison d’être.

If changing the tax rule that leads to excessive health insurance is not going to happen, the relevant political choice is between government rationing and continued high levels of health-care spending. Rationing is bad policy. It forces individuals with different preferences to accept the same care. It also imposes an arbitrary cap on the future growth of spending instead of letting it evolve in response to changes in technology, tastes and income. In my judgment, rationing would be much worse than excessive care.

Those who worry about too much health care cite the Congressional Budget Office’s prediction that health-care spending could rise to 30% of GDP in 2035 from 16% now. But during that 25-year period, GDP will rise to about $24 trillion from $14 trillion, implying that the GDP not spent on health will rise to $17 billion in 2035 from $12 billion now. So even if nothing else comes along to slow the growth of health spending during the next 25 years, there would still be a nearly 50% rise in income to spend on other things.

Like virtually every economist I know, I believe the right approach to limiting health spending is by reforming the tax rules. But if that is not going to happen, let’s not destroy the high quality of the best of American health care by government rationing and misplaced egalitarianism.

Mr. Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan, is a professor at Harvard and a member of The Wall Street Journal’s board of contributors.

So it’s not private insurance companies’ “excessive profits” that are to be demonized, but the government’s tax rules.  As is usually the case, the reason we’ve got high costs is because government is too involved, and is making things worse.  And again, who is the biggest obstacle to finally fixing the tax rules in a way that will lower costs?  Big labor, a key Democrat ally.

Having Democrats “fix” the system is like having foxes “guard” the chicken coop.

A further culprit in our skyrocketing medical costs are still another powerful Democrat special interest: the trial lawyers.  In exchange for the millions of dollars the trial lawyers give to Democrats, Democrat politicians continue to protect the system that allows lawyers to file frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit.  A simple “loser pays” system – such as the U.K. offers – would cut billions out of the costs of health care.  Instead, not only are doctors’ malpractice insurance costs exorbitant (which doctors must then pass on to patients), but fear of lawsuits leads to a practice known as “defensive medicine.” When 93% of physicians admit to ordering tests, prescribing drugs, or performing procedures to protect themselves from potential lawsuits rather than help their patients, something is just incredibly wrong.

Doctors are literally leaving medicine over the insane costs of medical malpractice.  In certain specialized fields, such as Ob/Gyn, whole regions are losing their doctors.  Insurance premiums for Ob/Gyn doctors are running $250,000 a year – and between higher insurance costs, lower government deductibles, and always high medical school costs, vitally important family care doctors are finding themselves netting less than fast food restaurant managers.

Alan Miller explains another reason why private insurance is absolutely vital to our health care system – and why a government “public option” would be disastrous:

Medicare reimbursements to hospitals fail to cover the actual cost of providing services. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent congressional advisory agency, says hospitals received only 94.1 cents for every dollar they spent treating Medicare patients in 2007. MedPAC projects that number to decline to 93.1 cents per dollar spent in 2009, for an operating shortfall of 7%. Medicare works because hospitals subsidize the care they provide with revenue received from patients who have commercial insurance. Without that revenue, hospitals could not afford to care for those covered by Medicare. In effect, everyone with insurance is subsidizing the Medicare shortfall, which is growing larger every year.

If hospitals had to rely solely on Medicare reimbursements for operating revenue, as would occur under a single-payer system, many hospitals would be forced to eliminate services, cut investments in advanced medical technology, reduce the number of nurses and other employees, and provide less care for the patients they serve. And with the government in control, Americans eventually will see rationing
, the denial of high-priced drugs and sophisticated procedures, and long waits for care.

When we consider that – all protestations aside - some 88 million Americans will be shifted out of their employer-paid private insurance into a “public option” under the Democrats’ plan, we should be very, very worried.

Democrats aren’t doing ANYTHING to reduce the costs of healthcare.  All they are offering is total government control as fiscally-responsible panacea; and that is simply a lie.  Government bureaucracy is not more efficient; it is unimaginably LESS efficient.  The government has never been more efficient at delivering services (remember the $435 hammers? the $640 toilet seats? the $7,600 coffee makers?).  You want efficiency and economies of scale?  How about the government overpaying 618%.  Big government is inherently bureaucratic, inefficient, and corrupt.  And as their costs go up and up and up, the only way they will be able to bring their costs down will be to ration care.

Don’t just listen to me: listen to the man Obama chose to be his health policy adviser, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who said this year:

“Many have linked the effort to reduce the high cost of death with the legalization of physician-assisted suicide…. Decreasing availability and increasing expense in health care and the uncertain impact of managed care may intensify pressure to choose physician-assisted suicide” and “the cost effectiveness of hastened death is as undeniable as gravity. The earlier a patient dies, the less costly is his or her care.”

And:

“When implemented, the Complete Lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuatedThe Complete Lives system justifies preference to younger people because of priority to the worst-off rather than instrumental value.”

Please don’t be so stupid not to think that rationing care – particularly to senior citizens who have already “lived their complete lives” – that rationing won’t be essential to government care.  And we will GET government care unless we rise up now to stop it.

Pre/Post-Election Poll Craziness: Media Rewriting Its Propaganda

November 20, 2008

Okay.  Six weeks and one Presidential election apart.  Two articles reporting on two polls from the same source (CNNMoney): one titled “Poll: 60% say depression ‘likely’” and one titled “76% say Obama can fix economy – poll.”

Am I the only one who sees a contradiction?

Let’s backtrack a little bit.  Since election day, the Dow has lost 21% of its value, from 9625 on November 4 to today’s close of 7552.  It was 9525 on October 6, the day that 60% of Americans believed that a depression was “likely.”

The CNNMoney story from October 6 begins:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Nearly six out of ten Americans believe another economic depression is likely, according to a poll released Monday.

And it ends:

And [Economic Cycle Research Institute director of research Anirvan] Banerji said that the increasingly grim view of the economy will by itself lead to cutbacks in spending by both consumers and businesses. That in turn will result in greater job losses and more economic pain.

“The fact that the majority of people believe we are going into a depression ensures that the recession will get worse,” Banerji said.

The market has lost over one-fifth of its value since Barack Obama was elected President.  That is a rather stunning display of a complete lack of confidence in his leadership and in his policies.  Such an abandonment from the market following a presidential election is historically unprecedented.  And we are supposed to believe that now 76% of Americans believe Obama can “fix” the economy?

Because Obama has done what, exactly?

First of all, I have to ask: is it THESE people who believe Obama can fix the economy?  Is it the nearly 60% of Obama voters who – on crucial issues such as which party has been in charge of the Congress for the last two years – are dumber than monkeys, but get to vote anyway?

It sure isn’t THESE people, investors or chief executive officers, the people who actually invest and who actually run things.  You poll the CEOs, and you find out that “74 percent of the executives say they fear that an Obama presidency would be disastrous for the country.”  You find out that CEO’s believe that “some of his programs would bankrupt the country within three years, if implemented.”

Barack Obama is being portrayed by the media as the new FDR, superintending the “new new deal.”  That should frankly terrify you, if you had a clue.

Let me tell you what’s going on here: exactly what I and others have been saying would happen.  The same media that has been demonizing the economy as a narrative device to attack Republicans will begin to assure everyone that things will be okay now that Barack Obama is in charge.  Most Obama voters didn’t know that Democrats have actually been in charge of both the House and the Senate for the past two years because the media didn’t want them to know that.  Widespread awareness of such a fact would have undermined the media narrative that Republicans were responsible for the tanking economy.  Better to run one story after another trashing Sarah Palin.

John McCain was portrayed as some kind of older-than-retarded out-of-touch fool for claiming that the fundamentals of the economy were strong when they were at a time when they were ACTUALLY FAR STRONGER THAN THEY ARE NOW (you know, before Obama got elected and the market lost over a fifth of its value).  But you will begin to see “here comes the sun” articles building up the economy now that the election is over and Democrats came out on top.

The media has been so blatantly biased throughout its election coverage that it is completely accurate to say that we are now in a propaganda state.  There is no possible way that Republicans can win in this media climate: whether you look at the Media Research Center, or at the Project for Excellence in Journalism (or again at their brand new study), or at the University of Wisconsin’s Wisconsin Advertising Project, there is widespread agreement with one longtime ABC journalist that the media is dangerously biased.  Pew Research discovered that Americans believe by a 70% to 9% margin that the media is biased in favor of Obama and against McCain.  The media now represents a fifth column of government – a propaganda wing – that attacks conservatives and celebrates and defends Democrats and their ideology.  Democracy is going extinct in the country that founded democracy, because no free society can survive such a climate of propaganda.

Are the two polls from CNN contradictory?  Of course they are.  But they are the product of two agendas: agenda #1 was to undermine confidence in the economy in order to get Obama and Democrats elected; agenda #2 is to reinforce confidence in the economy in order to help them be successful.

The problem is that the people who actually invest and who actually run businesses aren’t as stupid and naive as the brainwashed public that voted for Obama and a Democrat super-majority.  That’s why the smart money is bailing our of the economy like rats off a sinking ship so that they can actually keep what little profit they have before the Democrats can begin to start “spreading the wealth around.”


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