July 21, 2009

The Real Reason President Obama Wants to Reform Health Care.


Dr. Charles McGowen, a physician who writes on health care for AProundtable.org, says he knows the real motive behind President Obama’s health care plan. 1

It’s not because nearly 46 million Americans, 18 percent of the population under the age of 65, are without health insurance. Nor is it because that number is increasing by about two million per year. 2 It is also not because a growing number of middle-income families cannot afford health insurance even when it is offered by their employers. Nor is it because about a third of insured Americans have coverage so meager they must postpone care due to costs. 4

Yes, uninsured Americans receive less preventive care, are diagnosed at more advanced disease stages, and once finally diagnosed, die at higher rates than insured individuals. 3 Yes, our nation spends nearly $100 billion per year providing the uninsured with health services, for preventable diseases or diseases that physicians could have been treated more efficiently with earlier diagnosis. 2 Yes, health care costs have risen to a whopping 16 percent of GDP. 5

But, according to Dr. McGowen, none of these are the true reason why the President wants to fix health care.

The true reason the President of the United States is proposing health care reform is to seize the means of production, following the “sinister” advice of the World Health Organization, and in accordance with Marxist doctrine, in order to turn the United States into just another socialist nation 1.

Jamie Whyte in his Crimes Against Logic defines the “Motive Fallacy” as attempting to demonstrate an opinion to be false by showing that someone has a motive for holding that opinion. Asserting that Barrack Obama secretly conspired to attain the nation’s highest office as part of his master plan to subsequently dismantle the Constitution and unite the international proletariat, in and of itself, is not a valid criticism of Obama’s health care plan.

It is, however, kooky.

Dr. McGowen goes on to assert that the President is violating the Constitution. Dr. McGowen declares that “in part” the Tenth Amendment states “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States [emphasis his] respectively, or to the people.” Nevermind that this is the Tenth Amendment in its entirety, the Supreme Court has been closely divided for decades regarding how the Tenth Amendment constrains congressional authority over the States. Under the Court’s most recent ruling, the Tenth Amendment imposes practically no judicially enforceable limit on generally applicable federal legislation. 6 While Dr. McGowen may disagree with the Supreme Court, the President and Congress are certainly not flouting the Constitution by following the Court’s interpretation of it.

Dr. McGowen enlists King David in his opposition to health care reform. He quotes Psalms 119:32 which reads “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” I fail to see what on earth that has to do with health insurance. Maybe Dr. McGowen believes the Bible is some sort of treatise on the virtues of absolute free market capitalism and David some kind of venture capitalist. If so, he hasn’t read Acts 2:44-45: “All that believed were together, and had all things in common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”

The impact of having so many Americans uninsured is painfully clear. Many uninsured individuals postpone needed medical care resulting in premature death and billions of dollars lost in productivity and additional expenses. Even those Americans who have currently covered are vulnerable to the potential loss if they change jobs.


The current situation is nowhere near acceptable. We, as a nation, can do much better than this. Believing that every American can and should have health care coverage with basic benefits does not make you a socialist or a communist. It does not mean you scorn the Constitution. It doesn’t mean you don’t understand the Bible. It just means you can recognize a problem and you have some common sense.


Sources:


  1. A Physician’s Perspective on the Issues of National Healthcare #11, On Healthcare with Dr. Charles McGowen, http://www.aproundtable.org
  2. DeNavas-Walt, C.B. Proctor, and J. Smith. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007. U.S. Census Bureau., August 2008.
  3. Institute of Medicine. Care Without Coverage – Too Little, Too Late. The National Academies Press, 2002.
  4. Consumer Reports. Are You Really Covered? September 2007.
  5. Centers for Medicare and Medical Services, http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalHealthExpendData/.
  6. Cornell Law School Annotated Constitution, http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/amdt10_user.html#amdt10_hd11.

June 13, 2009

The Ten Commandments: Our Moral Foundation


During his time on the Alabama Circuit Court, Judge Roy Moore hung small wooden plaques of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.  Later, as the state’s Chief Justice, he oversaw the placement of a small, 5200-pound granite monument engraved with the commandments in the state judicial building. Moore sees the commandments as “the moral foundation of our law.” and many Americans agree.  It is widely accepted without further evidence, discussion or fear of contradiction that the commandments are not only an excellent guideline for personal behavior but the foundation of our current system of jurisprudence. But not everyone has this kind of common sense.

A federal judge order the monument removed, Judge Moore lost his job and, if that wasn’t bad enough, a gubernatorial election. Apparently some people think obeying a court order is more important than “belief in the sovereignty of God.”

Showing the same kind of spunk that took him to kickboxing victory in the Greater Gadsen Tournament of Champions, Moore plans to run again in 2010.   The Judge’s fighting spirit has inspired me to carry his crusade to the next logical step. 

It’s time to stop paying lip service to the Ten Commandments and to implement them as the law of the land - after all, they aren't the ten suggestions, now are they?

I.  “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3)

If this commandment is to move from the Bible to the law books, we have one major problem: the First Amendment to the Constitution or at least the prevalent interpretation of it which prohibits government from preferring one religion to another.  There is an argument that the First Amendment (along with the rest of the Bill of RIghts) doesn’t even apply to the States anyway.   If that argument cannot carry the day, we will have to modify the Constitution with the “No Other Gods Amendment”.   We will have to begin a comprehensive public information campaign to dispel the notion that we are somehow telling people what to believe when, in fact, we are simply telling them what not to believe.

II. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6)

A ‘graven’ image is one that is sculpted, carved or etched and God hates them. He especially hates it when we bow down to them and serve them.  Some people who like graven images (like Catholics for example) are going to scurry behind the First Amendment again, this time invoking the right to Free Speech and Free Exercise provisions.  But there are limits to free speech, for example, obscenity.  If doing something God clearly hates is not obscenity then I don’t know what is.  But, if that argument doesn’t prevail, we may have to again modify the Constitution with the “Anti-Graven Image Amendment”.

III. “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

Again we find an extreme interpretation of the First Amendment in the way of my common sense goal of implementing God’s law.  There’s no getting around it- free speech will have to be somewhat curtailed to make a law compliant with this commandment, but free speech is not without constraints. Just as you can't shout 'fire' in crowded theater,  you shouldn't be allowed to go around saying “GD this” or “GD that”.  Of course, we must be reasonable.  People who violate this law should only receive a appropriate fine unless of course they do it repeatedly and intentionally.  In that case we have no choice but to incarcerate them until they learn to obey the law. In keeping with our respect for privacy and our suspicion of unreasonable searches, law enforcement will only have the authority to conduct surveillance, wiretap phones or bug homes if they have a court order obtained after showing ample evidence of probable cause that the Lord's name is being taken in vain. There is a practical issue that needs to be discussed.  In some cases, whether or not the Lord’s name was actually taken in vain is not so much a legal as a theological question. We may need to impanel some clergymen to make help judges reach fair, consistent decisions in keeping with the original intent of the commandment.

IV. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

God wants everybody to take a day off once a week.  We simply need to expand “Blue Laws” currently in effect in some more God-fearing States to prohibit work of any kind one day a week.  I’ll let the theologians debate whether this day should be Saturday or Sunday, but there will be implications to football either way.

V. “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12)”

God promises that people who honor their parents will actually live longer. Think of the impact on our health care system and economy if the majority of people follow this commandment alleviating the need for expensive medical care while leading long and productive lives.  In keeping with this commandment, I think life-saving medical care should be withheld from young people. Clearly, they brought it on themselves by disobeying God’s commandment to honor their parents.

VI. “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13)

I shouldn’t have to explain to you that this Ccommandment prohibits the taking of human life such as euthanasia, mercy killings, abortions, pulling out feeding tubes and turning off switches and letting people die a so-called “natural” death. It clearly does not apply to shooting home invaders, killing people in wars and the death penalty.  You’d be surprised how many people can’t keep that straight.  

VII. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14)

First the good news: many states already have laws prohibiting adultery. Now the bad: Most states are looking at ways to get rid of so-called “outdated” laws. Some states have reviewed their laws criminalizing consensual sexual activity in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas in which the Court struck down Texas' ban on homosexual sodomy. One reading of the majority opinion in Lawrence is that states may not constitutionally burden any private, consensual sexual activity between adults. Such a reading would throw laws against adultery, fornication and even adult incest into question. And I wouldn’t expect any help from President Obama’s latest pick for the Supreme Court.  What to do?  We must take all the energy currently devoted to getting an amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman and, instead, turned it toward the “Anti-Adultery Amendment.” Think about it. Gay marriage and homosexuality in general, as distasteful as they are to all Godly people, did not make God’s top ten list. We need to bring our priorities in line with God’s.

VII.  “Thou shalt not steal. (Exodus 20:15)

This seems pretty simple and obvious. God hates thieves.  Just as God hated it when one man stole another man’s slaves thousands of years ago; he hates it when the music-lover downloads illegal songs to her IPod today.  And that is my point: Our laws need to view stealing the way God does.  It’s all the same.  The armed robber and the small business owner who doesn’t buy the proper number of licenses for Microsoft Office are both violating the same commandment and should face the same punishment.  Probably stoning.

IX.  “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” (Exodus 20:16)

It bothers me that a lot of people feel the need to add something to God’s law.  For example, when people apply this commandment to gossiping, which, so long as the gossip is true, is not prohibited. Also bearing false witness against someone who is not your neighbor is also not prohibited.  Listen people, if God meant to prohibit gossiping, lying in general and bearing false witness against non-neighbors, then that’s what he would have said in his perfect Word.

X.  “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.” (Exodus 20:17)

This is a toughie.  Coveting is really a “thought-crime.”  Now until that happy day when we devise a way for law enforcement to intercept people’s thoughts, we’re going to have to have a difficult time enforcing this law.  We could of course punish blatant confessed coveters but perhaps in this case an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  You can’t covet what you can’t see.  I think we could stop most of the worst kind of coveting by having men with especially attractive wives keep them under wraps like a burka or something.  

So there you have it- a feasible way forward to a more God-centric legal system that’s really based on the Ten Commandments.  I know some of these ideas may sound extreme, but either your serious about obeying God or you’re not. Write your congressman.

Sources:

Roy S. Moore, So Help Me God Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman Publisher, 2005.

June 5, 2009

Is Dr. Tiller’s Killing Justified by the Bible?


George Tiller, the Kansas doctor who performed late-term abortions, was killed May 31 while attending a Sunday morning church service. 

Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry said it best: "What that man did by shooting George Tiller is wrong. Period." 

I couldn’t agree more.

But then he added, “[Tiller] was a mass murderer. … He killed tens of thousands of innocent human beings at his own hand." 

Here, I must disagree.

The reason I disagree with Terry is not what you might think. You see, this self described Christian activist group should know that nothing in the Bible specifically equates killing an embryo or even a fetus with killing a human being. 

In the interest of fairness, I’ll begin with scripture that is often quoted by right to lifers.  There are several accounts in the Bible of God communicating with embryos or fetuses. I’ve selected two, one from each Testament:

"Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)


"For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." (Luke 1:15)


If God knew Jeremiah and John the Baptist while they were in their mother’s wombs, so the argument goes, then  they were clearly human beings. If they are human beings, then killing them is murder.


Fair enough.


But how does that compare with other versus that more directly address the issue of unborn life?  God specifically addresses the killing of a fetus in the book of Exodus:


“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.” (Exodus 21:22-23)

God clearly tells us that a man who accidentally induces a miscarriage is to be punished, indicating that He does value the unborn child, but not very much, as the taking of that life only entitles the woman’s husband to a fine. [Side note: If you’re worried about how unwed mothers would be compensated- stop. They’ll most likely be stoned to death.] The life of the unborn child is worth much less than the mother’s life: If she died, the killer would get the ultimate penalty.

It would be hard for judges to rule in such a case because who can put a value on the potential of human life? 

Apparently God can.  

In Leviticus, God actually assigns a value in shekels based on age and gender of the child. My Thomas Nelson King James Version actually converts shekels to dollars which is really handy should I need to compensate my neighbor for killing his children. A female from five to 20 years old will get you $17.60! Unfortunately children younger than one month aren’t worth anything:

“And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.” (Leviticus 27:6)

The lesson here is clear:  If you're going to kill children, you should do it after they’re born (lest you incur a fine), but before they are a month old (when they are worth something).

If that’s not enough evidence of God’s low estimation of the unborn consider this verse:

“Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them. And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD.(Numbers 3:15-16)

Sometimes God, through his prophets, orders killing women who might be pregnant:

“And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. (Numbers 31:15-17)

God sometimes kills newborn babies just to punish their parents.

“Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. (2 Samuel 12:14)”

God sometimes requires pregnant women to be burned to death with their babies:

“Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.” (Genesis 38:24)

I think you’ll agree that Randall Terry should’ve paid closer attention in Sunday School.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my neighbor’s three-week old won’t stop screaming....


June 2, 2009

Monty Python's Argument Clinic

This is it.

No it isn't.

June 1, 2009

Are Child Abductions Increasing?


A Facebook friend posted a note giving tips for parents to keep their small children safe in public places. She begins by saying it was safer when she was a child but times have changed and abductions have increased.  To prove her point, she cited an example of a stranger who attempted to abduct a child in her area.


But are children really at a greater risk of abduction than in the past? How great is this threat relative to other risks children face?


The vast majority of children that are reported missing are returned unharmed.  The abductor is usually a family member. Kidnappings by acquaintances are much less common and stranger kidnappings are extremely rare. The US Department of Justice conducted detailed studies estimating the number of missing children.  In 1988, they estimated between 200 and 300 abductions by strangers occurred.  For 1999, they estimated 115 such abductions.  Due to differing study methodology, these studies do not conclusively prove a decline, but there is certainly no evidence of an increase.[1]

A review of the Center for Disease Control’s charts on leading causes of death reports reveals that children are much more likely to be killed in an accident than be abducted by a stranger.  This means automobiles and bathtubs are more likely to hurt children than people they don’t know. [2]

But where did this persistent idea that child abductions are increasing originate? Why do parents fear their children being abducted by strangers more than, say, falling down stairs? When my friend was a child, there were fewer national media outlets and news was not available 24/7. Today the media is capable of distributing news from anywhere in the world to everywhere in the world.  A child stolen by a stranger is more likely to receive national or international coverage than a child poisoned by household cleaners. The greater variety of media outlets means more time can be devoted to repeated tellings of the story and exhaustive commentary.  As useful as media coverage can be to positive outcomes in child abductions, you could hypothesize that the wide distribution and selected coverage of child abductions also makes these events seem more frequent and a greater threat than they really are. 

Another possible reason that parents tend to think of the world as increasingly dangerous is simply that, when they were children, they viewed the world through the eyes of a child.

Parents should certainly take prudent measures to protect their children from all manner of risks.  But we pay a price in our personal lives and as a society when we allow fear out of proportion to those risks to guide our actions. 

[1] National Incident Studies of Missing Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children (NISMART) Questions and Answers,  http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/nismart/qa/

[2] CDC Leading Causes Charts http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/osp/charts.htm


May 30, 2009

Book Review: Crimes Against Logic-Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists and Other Serial Offenders - Jamie Whyte.



Ever argue with a jackass only to have them assert their right to have their own opinion?  Didn’t know quite what to say?  If you had read Crimes Against Logic by philosopher/lecturer Whyte, you could have said “Yes, but you aren’t entitled to have your opinion be true.”  Furthermore you would know that this stupid cliche is, at its root, an example of the logical fallacy of equivocation.  This concise (157 page), and hilarious book also exposes the Motive Fallacy, the Authority fallacy, begging the question, misusing statistics, prejudice and other affronts to reason. Warning: After you read this book, you’ll have plenty of responses to logical fallacies but you may have fewer jackasses to argue with. Is that so bad?