Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Listening session with Mr. Leibham

These are the videos from Mr. Leibham's listening session in Sheboygan. They are many short videos, instead of a few long ones, because it is easier to upload short videos than longer ones. I recommend numbers 1, 5, 6, 7 & 8 if you are interested in the changes that have been made and that are being proposed to WI auto insurance laws. I would also recommend that folks start really paying attention to what is happening in our legislature.

This question is regarding the freezing of the picture on the questioner's television. And this question took up several minutes of the session time-as you will see. In my opinion, it is a testimony to the importance of bread and circuses.

The speaker addressing the question is an alderwoman in the city of Sheboygan.

There are 12 things on Mr. Leibham's list of changes to our law to be discussed, and 15 or so that are pending-some of them egregious abuses of power on the part of our legislature and we are talking about television reception, over which Mr. Leibham has zero control. While I understand the urge to be helpful and provide an answer-I hate unanswered questions, myself - this time could have been used better.

This gets back to insurance changes pretty quickly. It's worth watching. It also illustrates one of my principle disagreements with Mr. Leibham. (And which videos have been watched the most since I posted them? That's right, the ones with the discussion of the television question.)

The insurance discussion continues.

This man nails the essential difficulty I have with the mandatory insurance provision. He is willing and able to pay the damages to the other party in his accident and sees no reason that he should be required to pay for insurance as well. This insistence on mandatory insurance is encouraging the entitlement mentality which is already out of control. Yes, doctors and hospitals and vehicle repairs are expensive, but an auto accident should not be seen as a ticket to riches. Sometimes bad things happen and life is hard. It is not American or moral to penalize someone beyond the actual costs of the damages they caused, simply to feed that sense of entitlement. If an individual is able to pay the minimums determined by the state towards an auto accident, they should not be required to pay for insurance as well.

Mr. Leibham does have a lozenge in his mouth and apologized for that necessity several times while asking for our tolerance as he had a bit of a frog in his throat and this was the last of his three listening sessions for the day.

This bit is addressing the question of cell phones while driving.

There were a few other questions on ATV's and the appointment process for the head of the DNR, but my memory card was full.

"Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, "~ Lev 6:4

Monday, October 26, 2009

Health insurance

Just in case some folks haven't been paying attention, Mr. Feingold and Mr. Kohl both support the so-called "public option" - otherwise known as the federal government's takeover of the healthcare system and the further erosion of our Constitutional rights. Please see their signatures on a letter to Mr. Reid that leaves very little question of their intentions here.

Elections are coming. Let us thank them for their service and bestir ourselves to find replacements for these gentlemen.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Where were the TEA Party folks?

Today, my state senator, Joe Leibham, held a listening session. He provided a small booklet(nothing fancy-just the facts-black and white as though it came from your home printer) about legislative changes that had been approved, changes that were under discussion and legislation he had worked on.

Some of the changes that have been approved, as those who have been reading this blog know, are outrageously abusive of the citizens of WI. Some of the more outrageous policy items that were dropped from the budget, are being revisited by our legislators. Things like driver's cards for illegal aliens and lowering the liability percentage from 51% to 1%. ( I had thought both of those items were safely off the table and am quite incensed to find that it is not so. That air in Madison I guess.)

Now I have some problems with Mr. Leibham, philosophically, but I will grant that he has been a strong fiscal conservative in his votes and, in general shows a modicum of common sense, of which I approve. I will address my reservations with him in another post, but I wanted to address something else before I do that and before I post videos of bits of his listening session.

We have a participatory form of government folks. That means we participate. When our legislators do their best to let us know what is going on in the halls of the legislature, we should lend them an ear. When they make themselves available to hear our opinions and concerns, we should equally, politely and respectfully share our opinions and concerns. Now I've attended two TEA Parties. One in Madison and one in Sheboygan. Those gatherings were very well attended and there were many concerns spoken of, at the national, state and local levels. Everyone was enthusiastic and wanting things to be changed, (or left alone in certain areas-change for the sake of change is not a reasonable philosophy). One hopes I might be forgiven for worrying that I might not find a seat at this listening session as I was running a little late. I had been to a few of these before and expected, after such rousing displays of patriotism, that this would be packed with concerned citizens. (Goodness knows we have enough with this legislature to be concerned about.)

When my son and I walked into the room, I was immediately apprised of the fact that I need not have worried. It was a relatively small room and there were more open seats than full. There were, perhaps, 15 people in attendance. They were mostly people my age and older. My son was the youngest person in the room and, with the exception of my son, I don't think (I hope not to offend anyone, here) there were any attendees under the age of 30.

It is fine and dandy to have a rousing rally that brings folks out to show our sentiments, but if we don't follow up by attending and requesting such sessions with our legislators, what's the point? We have effectively silenced ourselves. Sure we can send e-mails and phone calls, but too often those are only done when we are irate or bothered about something that affects us personally. (And I believe we can expect a lot more of that in the very near future here in WI.)

If we leave our legislators guessing what we think or want, then we can hardly blame them for inconsistencies in their votes or for voting however they see fit, or, (in the case of those who may have no principles of their own,) according to whatever activist last had their ear. I know I can't attend all of these sessions and I don't expect anyone else to do so either, but there should certainly be more folks at such sessions than I have seen when there isn't something urgent or outrageous under discussion. We not only have the right to participate in this process, we have a duty. If we are not going to participate, then maybe we should be remembering that when we point our finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at us.

(My apologies to Mr. Leibham for the original misspelling-it has been corrected.)

"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. " ~Gal 2:11

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Moral Case for Health Care Reform?

This was brought to my attention by Dr.D, one of my regular commenters. It was first published at The American Thinker on Oct. 20th of this year. Having read it, I felt a need to share it with those who may read my blog. It is with my thanks, to both the author and folks at The American Thinker , as well as to Dr.D., that I present this article on my blog.

"By John W. Truslow, III
As the health care bills currently before Congress move tantalizingly close to passage, those who favor government management of health care markets increasingly assert "the moral case" to advance that cause. These influential opinions attempt to close off debate, as if to say, "All that the Lord has spoken, we will do." Precisely for that reason, citizens must consider if the arguments are moral imperatives in search of a political will, or merely the other way around.

Our nation was established upon this shared moral code: individual citizens are endowed with certain moral rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Since we possess these fundamental rights with or without the formation of government, the government of the United States was established not to create these rights, but to secure our free exercise of them. A right to life implies a governmental duty, not to give life, but to secure an individual's freedom to live. A right to liberty implies a governmental duty, not to grant liberty, but to secure individual autonomy. A right to the pursuit of happiness implies a governmental duty, not to award happiness, but to secure the free application of that pursuit. This is the shared moral code that can frame a thoughtful debate on health care policy.

Most coherent attempts to present the moral case for health care reform are similarly bounded by the claim of an absolute right on one side and a resulting governmental duty on the other. Rights advocates cite some variation of the twenty-fifth article of the UN Declaration of Human Rights:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Despite the considerable clout derived from the assertion of a basic human right, such contentions are nothing more than highly contestable social ambitions. In fact, alleging the "right to medical care" and protection from circumstances beyond one's control is nonsensical, similar to this argument in Monty Python's Life of Brian:
Stan: I want to have babies.

Reg: You want to have babies?!

Stan: It's every man's right to have babies if he wants them.

Reg: But you can't have babies.

Stan: Don't you oppress me.

Reg: I'm not oppressing you, Stan - you haven't got a womb. Where's the fetus going to
gestate? You going to keep it in a box?

Judith: Here! I've got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can't actually have babies,
not having a womb, which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans', but that he can
have the right to have babies.

Francis: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies,

Reg: What's the point?

Francis: What?

Reg: What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies, when he can't have babies?

Francis: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.

Reg: It's symbolic of his struggle against reality.

The health care debate has become exactly this: a symbol of our struggle against reality. Heath care is presented by advocates as a technological panacea, a supernatural wonder that ends suffering and delivers us from death. As Max Frisch wrote, "Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn't have to experience it." It is mere fantasy to assert a fundamental human right to avoid reality, and without a rational basis to assert an entitlement to health care, there is no corresponding government duty.

Even if one firmly believes in the existence of an individual's right to health care, such a right neither implies nor justifies a requirement that other citizens supply it, only that we do not stand in the way of that pursuit. It would seem that if the right existed, the corresponding government duty mandated by our society's moral code is to secure the right to access by eliminating restrictive interference, not to provide a system of regulation dependent upon taxation, rationing, and other limitations of personal liberty.

So set aside the notion of rights and consider obligations. Many have argued that, "there is a moral obligation to care for people who are sick." The worthwhile discussion is not if such an obligation exists, but rather: "Is one primarily bound to fulfill this responsibility individually as determined by personal conscience, or must citizens fulfill this obligation collectively as determined by the whole? Likewise, is a personal obligation to help those who are sick satisfied when society acts on the individual's behalf?" Health care reform advocates insinuate that "caring for those who are sick" is widely accepted as a collective obligation, but it is a far stronger case to state that Americans view this strictly as an individual obligation.

As a nation, we believe passionately in personal moral agency, as is seen in our historical aversion to "legislating morality", our unwillingness to assume personal responsibility for others' behavior, and our reluctance to assign praise or blame to groups. It follows that when others act (or "care") on our behalf -- especially when the means for this care (that is to say, taxation) limits or even prevents our own activity -- they preclude us from doing what we are morally obligated to do on our own. The government usurpation of an individual's moral obligation to care for others is itself a moral wrong because it violates one's absolute right to moral autonomy when carrying out individual obligations of conscience.

There are two additional moral arguments put forward in favor of health care reform, and both are variations of the utilitarian principle claiming that what is moral is "the greatest good for the greatest number."

First, the supporters' argument goes, "in the course of extending health care to all, it is acceptable to limit some individual freedoms if the greater whole is served." With very few exceptions, individual liberties in this country are morally restricted only when one's exercise of a freedom directly violates the rights of another citizen. That is not the case here. The argument for universal health care (that individual liberties can be restricted to favor the good of the whole) is the same argument in favor of slavery: "Some people do have their freedoms limited under the law, but taken as a whole, our society is better off as a result." When human liberties are restricted for "the good of the whole," watch out for moral harm.

Second, supporters of health care reform have said that some citizens have a right to medical care for which others pay because the United States is one of the wealthiest nations, and as such has a moral obligation to spread our affluence. It is not clear what prosperity has to do with this argument. Perhaps it is meant that there exists a collective right to take the wealth of some citizens based on a communal need - a highly debatable moral premise - but it would seem that this right exists or doesn't exist without regard for the nation's relative wealth. Those who argue that the U.S. should have universal access to health care because of our wealth sound much like Willie Sutton revealing that he robbed banks because "that's where the money is." Robbing banks -- or individuals with abundant resources -- is not moral, no matter how much money is to be had, nor the good such money may do.

Thankfully, Americans do not need a government to suggest that caring for the sick is the right thing to do. We are a moral, generous, caring people who -- given the freedom and opportunity -- are already inclined to care for the sick in our families and communities. The government oversteps its moral boundaries -- our shared moral code -- by creating a health care system based on taxation, rationing and restrictions, even if it's done in the name of equality for all. Government has a moral obligation to remove barriers (regulations and other legal limitations) to health care, not establish new ones.
John W. Truslow, III is the Associate Director of the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility at The J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University.

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; "~ 1 Peter 2:9

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thank you Mr. Doyle and WI legislature

We just received our notice of the increase in our auto insurance bill.
Thank you Mr. Doyle and the legislature of WI. How would I have lived without the opportunity to pay more for auto insurance?

I can certainly see how spending that much more on auto insurance will improve our lives. Just think of the alcohol I'll no longer to be able to afford-oh wait I'm a teetotaller. Well surely quitting smoking because I can no longer afford the cigarettes will be a benefit-except I've never smoked. Hmmm. Well how will I have to modify my life in order that I can still afford to drive in the state if WI? Looks like food, shelter and clothing will have to go.

We'll have that much less with which to help our child through college too. Oh wait, that's not a problem because my child might not be able to get into college since he's not an illegal alien and the budget expanded the competition to get into college by granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens and their children. And since illegal aliens don't have to pay taxes, I'll bet they will be able to take full advantage of that benefit.

But at least we'll all be safer on WI roads-right? After all, think of all those folks who will now be driving without insurance. Yes, thank you Mr. Doyle and WI legislature for turning otherwise reasonably honest, law-abiding folks who were just barely making ends meet into criminals who can no longer afford auto insurance. I hope you thought of that when looking at prison budgets.

But hey, think of all the carbon that won't be emitted when the determinedly law-abiding folks who can no longer afford insurance stop driving, because driving is a luxury activity-right? It's not like folks have to drive to get to work in my neck of the woods or anything. Why the 20 mile hike to work should just serve as an invigorating start to the day. The 20 mile hike home? Just an opportunity to reflect on the day's challenges. Making those hikes in winter? An opportunity to appreciate nature's glorious blizzards and snowstorms first hand. At least, no longer having to pay for auto insurance at all should provide them with enough money to purchase good quality winter outerwear.

My mother, who is living on a fixed income, thanks you too, as she believes that, when she gets her notice, her auto insurance will cost at least twice as much as previously.
Why my heart just expands with "appreciation" for the wise decision of the WI legislature in approving that monstrosity when I think of my mother negotiating icy streets with her cane because she can't afford the gas to drive after paying for her auto insurance.

Why were these changes to auto insurance included in the budget? Why were these change even necessary? The only explanation I've heard offered was that it was a payback to the trial lawyers, who funded a goodly portion of Mr. Doyle's election campaign.

I'm open to hearing any other explanations as to why this would be necessary and why, if necessary, it should've been included in the state's budget rather than debated on it's own merits. I won't be holding my breath, but I will be looking at how I can help to replace all those legislators who voted in favor of this budget as the elections approach.

"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. " ~Acts 17:30-31

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Why do I even turn the thing on?

I turned on the television the other night (well actually very early morning-I tend to be a night owl) to find a show titled "My Super Sweet Sixteen" or some such thing. I was horrified to discover that the premise of the program was to glorify rampant consumerism and the celebrity lifestyle at the expense of the character of some rather spoiled American children.

I have seen this program a few times now and I'm truly appalled. These children manipulate their parents into spending unseemly amounts of money to satisfy their wish to throw the "biggest party ever". On the face of it, there seems to be a fascination with the celebrity lifestyle into which these children are attempting to buy their way. In reality one can see children desperately seeking for limits and sincere friends. I say that because there is no end to the demands these children put on their parents-expensive new cars, jewelry, dress codes for the guests, exotic animals, bands etc. But, when the time comes to distribute the invitations, on more than one occasion, their "friends" are not where they were supposed to be. Perhaps this is simply poor planning on the part of the show's producers or a naive expectation that of course "everyone" would be waiting on the whims of these wealthy young people. In either case, these children often choose to simply give invites to whoever happens to be hanging around. To me this appears to be a desperate bid for friendship. One that is doomed to fail, because money can't buy you friends.
These children (one of whom, appalling in and of itself, was the child of the minister of the city's largest Christian church), clearly understand that true friendship is a valuable thing and equally clearly, they understand or believe that their "friendships" may not be trustworthy due to their wealth. They do not seem to trust those whose friendship they claim and seek to deepen those relationships through vacuous displays of wealth and celebrity like behavior. Their parents may not have provided a foundation of logical thinking whereby they should be able to objectively evaluate their relationships and be content with them.

These shows are a parental "FAIL" in more ways than one. I hope that, upon viewing the programs, these parents will be able see themselves and their roles in the upbringing of their children more appropriately. I hope it gives them the fortitude to exercise appropriate limits and give their children the guidance they are so clearly craving. Otherwise these children will remain as pathetic and needy as they were at the time of their parties and that would be a very sad thing.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. "~ 1Tim 6-12