Thursday, March 24, 2016
Christian Health Care Flourishes
Consumers seek solutions to either unmet needs or alternatives to a substandard product or service. A great example of this maxim is this: Participants in health care cost-sharing ministries have more than doubled in number since ObamaCare’s inception in March 2010.
Before ObamaCare, there were faith-based risk pools such as Samaritan Ministries International, Medi-Share and Christian Healthcare Ministries. A hundred years ago, such mutual-aid societies covered one-third of American men before the welfare state saw to its decline. But while ObamaCare outlaws any new such ventures, membership has exploded for the ones grandfathered in under the law. Samaritan alone grew 33% last year, and is more than double its size in 2013.
With membership in these nonprofit organizations now surpassing 500,000, all credit rests with the so-called “Affordable Care Act.” That monstrosity was passed without a single Republican vote and signed into law by Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 — six years ago this week. From their inception in the early nineties, these organizations were growing at a rate of no more than 10% annually, until the Left weaponized the IRS to mandate the purchase of a service (health insurance).
In other words, until Obama decided to play the good liberal Samaritan — helping the sick by forcing them to buy health insurance.
The health care cost-sharing agreements in these ministries work with a monthly premium, sometimes as low as $150 per month. Individuals and families are matched with others to create a risk pool of participants who contract to reimburse medical expenses from an approved list. The patient/consumer bears the financial responsibility to shop for the best pricing and to pay for services rendered. Imagine, market-driven health care that makes the patient the customer.
Because these organizations are faith-based, moral clauses protect participants from paying catastrophic costs for injuries or illnesses sustained from behavior deemed immoral. For example, members are responsible for their own medical costs incurred as a result of drunk driving or substance abuse, or for procedures like abortion — things that are contrary to the ministries' values.
The participants in these ministries, who are Judeo-Christian in their declaratory membership statements, tend to refrain from self-destructive behavior that is often deemed “high-risk” by actuaries and result in greater cause of injury and illness.
Again, with amazement, imagine that those who choose a risky lifestyle must pay for its effects themselves.
ObamaCare was promised to usher in a utopian era of increased access to health care and lower costs, all while “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” We know that web of lies all too well.
So much for empty political rhetoric. The government-controlled health system mandates standardized insurance plans with coverage for all — even if it’s unneeded. Only by the logic of the State would an insurance plan for a group of nuns need to include contraception.
Unlike the cost-sharing ministries where certain behaviors are expected or rejected and risk pools are matched, Democrats want everyone’s premium payment comingled to pay for all charges in an attempt at universal care.
While critics like Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, are quick to dismiss these Christian co-ops as “junk coverage,” these ministry participants are willingly paying premiums and sharing costs while being incentivized to be well and live a healthier lifestyle because they have skin in the game.
Again, contrast this free market approach to the IRS-driven mandates, which have caused premiums and deductibles to skyrocket, and you have a government-run system requiring most to pay out of pocket for their own care to subsidize the high-risk, chronically ill.
Get it? You can voluntarily assume greater risk and responsibility for your health and health care choices in the nonprofit cost-sharing ministries, or pay far more out of your pocket for one-size-fits-all ObamaCare.
Sir Isaac Newton studied the laws of nature, one of which, the third law of motion, is simply summarized as: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The action of ObamaCare through its redistribution of wealth has produced the equal reaction in disrupting the health care market to reveal innovative alternatives. It’s now up to federal lawmakers to understand that putting patients in charge of their health with financial incentives will meet the necessary goals of increasing access by reducing costs.
Georgia Under Attack for Religious Liberty
Add Georgia to the list of states embroiled in the religious liberty debate that sent intolerant leftists in Indiana and Arkansas into a frenzy last year. Last week state lawmakers passed legislation that would allow religious institutions to refuse participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies. Naturally, the Left is furious and is already planning retaliation in case Gov. Nathan Deal signs the bill. Yet the final iteration of the bill, which was weakened considerably, is not what supporters would call hardline. As Heritage Foundation fellows Ryan T. Anderson and Roger Severino write, “Haste makes waste. This new language significantly waters down a religious freedom bill that had real force even though it was … already lacking in certain respects.” Here’s how:
The new version of the bill provides Religious Freedom Restoration Act levels of protection for certain protected persons, but it explicitly says these protections cannot apply in cases of “invidious discrimination.” Of course, no one is in favor of invidious discrimination, but the problem is that in the hands of a liberal judge, everything looks like invidious discrimination even when it is not, such as religious universities or adoption agencies that want their policies to reflect their teachings on marriage. This apes the bad “fix” that gutted the Indiana religious freedom bill. …
The new version of the bill adopts a very narrow definition of faith-based organizations, covering only churches, religious schools, and “integrated auxiliaries.” Indeed, Georgia’s constrained definition of religious organization mimics the one used by the Obama administration to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to help provide abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans because they don’t qualify for an exemption as a religious organization. Faith-based organizations come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no reason for Georgia to adopt such a cramped vision of religious organization.
Finally, the new Georgia bill provides no protection for bakers or florists or other similar wedding professionals who cannot help celebrate a same-sex wedding. While it does provide protections for priests and pastors not to have to perform same-sex weddings and for everyone not to attend them, the U.S. Constitution already provides such protections. So the bill doesn’t protect those who most need it, but it protects those who already have it.
In other words, the bill does little to deter judicial activists from discriminating against most “ordinary” citizens.
Nevertheless, National Football League spokesman Brian McCarthy warned: “NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.” As CBS News notes, Atlanta “has been considered a clear favorite because of its new retractable-roof stadium, set to open next year.” It is well within the NFL’s rights to take the Super Bowl elsewhere. But the entire ordeal demonstrates the intolerant Left’s unequivocal agenda — complete capitulation, not tolerance.
UK: Hmm, Where Could All This Hatred Be Coming From?
As with the Labour party students at Oxford, it is hard to argue that party members should have zero-tolerance towards anti-Semites when the party's current leader has spent his whole career happily tolerating them.
As many on the so-called left have earlier shown, their sinister idea of "re-education" for their opponents supposes that their own ideas on "education" are correct.
"Anti-Semitism isn't just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it's routine and commonplace. Any Muslims reading this article -- if they are honest with themselves -- will know instantly what I am referring to. It's our dirty little secret." — Mehdi Hassan, The New Statesman.
Is it not possible that anti-Muslim feeling, if it exists, might be in part propelled by the discovery that anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice (against women and gay people to name just two other "minorities") are also "routine and commonplace" among British Muslims?
Not a month goes by in Britain without some left-wing proponent of anti-Jewish racism exposing themselves. Last month it was the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) that was found to be harbouring anti-Semites among its members. In recent weeks there have been a number of adult members of the Labour party who have been readmitted to the party or promoted within it while holding extreme anti-Jewish views.
The most recent case revolves around one Vicki Kirby, a Labour parliamentary candidate before the last general election, when she was suspended from the party for tweeting about Jews having "big noses," Adolf Hitler being the "Zionist god" and other ramblings. Naturally, Ms. Kirby's suspension has since been lifted. As with the Labour party students at Oxford, it is very hard to argue that party members should have zero-tolerance towards anti-Semites when the party's current leader has spent his whole career happily tolerating them. Last week it came to public attention that Ms. Kirby had now become the vice-chair of her local party chapter.
The story was broken on right-of-centre websites, which ordinarily means that left-of-centre activists dismiss them as "smears." But these stories are now coming in so thick and fast that an increasing number of people on the left are starting to admit they might have a problem. At least they are choosing to throw the more minor anti-Semites under the bus while preserving those at the top of their ranks. Had the charges aimed at Ms. Kirby been aimed at Mr Corbyn, we would still be being told that these were "rumours," "innuendo" and the like.
Nevertheless, some Corbyn loyalists have decided that Ms. Kirby may indeed be a bit much, and realized that it is probably time to address the problem. Unfortunately, having failed to recognize the virus earlier, the remedies these people are now suggesting for cure are predictably wrong-headed.
Take for example the Guardian-published Corbyn activist, Owen Jones. Last week, ignoring his own history of stirring up lies against the Jewish state, he responded to his party's latest embarrassment by arguing that Labour's rules should be changed so that "anyone found guilty of anti-Semitism -- or any other form of racism -- is expelled from the party." He went on to say that, "Their readmission should only happen when they have demonstrably been shown to have been re-educated." There is the start of the problem. As so often with those on the Corbyn-ite wing of politics, the answer to problems of the heart or mind is "re-education." The only problem -- as the left many have earlier shown in a range of twentieth-century initiatives ranging from Stalin to Mao -- is that their sinister idea of "re-education" for their opponents supposes that their own ideas on "education" are correct. As Jones goes on to show, this is rarely the case.
For his second prevarication for dealing with Labour's anti-Semitism problem, Jones wrote that the party should:
"... set up two commissions: one on antisemitism, the other on anti-Muslim prejudice, respectively headed by a leading Jewish and a Muslim figure. Both forms of bigotry are on the rise in Britain, and both exist within progressive circles and the Labour party. The commissions could issue a series of recommendations, both for dealing with it when it arises within Labour, and also in wider society."
As everyone involved in politics knows, there are two ways truly to ignore a problem: the first is just to ignore it; the second is to "set up a commission."
But there are several perhaps unwittingly interesting things about this flaccid suggestion. The first is the reflexive and unthinking demonstration among many these days that they cannot possibly deal with anti-Semitism unless they also throw Muslims into the mix. To deal with anti-Semitism on its own might throw up too many problems and raise too many communal problems.
But let us say that two such commissions were set up. And let us pretend for a moment that they were indeed headed by people who were not merely "leading" but also honest figures.
The head of the commission to look into anti-Semitic prejudice, might find a number of startling things. He or she might find, for instance, that the dominant strand of anti-Semitism in British life in 2016 comes not from Ms. Kirby's ilk, but from the British Muslim community. The commission head would not have to go far to learn this. One only has to pick up a copy of the British left's in-house magazine, The New Statesman, and read an article from just three years ago by the British-born Al-Jazeera broadcaster, Mehdi Hassan. In an unusually honest piece entitled, "The sorry truth is that the virus of anti-Semitism has infected the British Muslim community," the author explains that:
"Anti-Semitism isn't just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it's routine and commonplace. Any Muslims reading this article -- if they are honest with themselves -- will know instantly what I am referring to. It's our dirty little secret."
So as Hassan has reminded us, the sorry truth is that if a commission into anti-Semitism were set up, it would have to finger the majority of British Muslims as at least a very large part of the problem.
Meanwhile, let us say that the second commission were set up -- the one that gives cover to the anti-Semitism commission which is looking at "anti-Muslim" feeling. This commission might come to an equally problematic conclusion. This commission might conclude, for instance, that to the extent that any "anti-Muslim" feeling might be said to exist in the UK, it comes from a number of factors quite separate from innate and unalterable prejudice in the hearts of the British people.
It might come, for instance, from a dislike of suicide-bombings, assassinations, beheadings and other varieties of terrorism carried out while discussing the greatness of Allah. Although most British people will remain perfectly capable of understanding the difference between the actions of the extremists and the behaviour of the vast majority of British Muslims, they may be concerned about the amount of deflection and denial that they see even from leaders of very mainstream Muslim organizations.
Indeed, is it not possible that anti-Muslim feeling, if it exists, might not also be in part propelled by the discovery that anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice (against women and gay people to name just two "minorities") are also "routine and commonplace" among British Muslims?
Perhaps after all it would be best if the Corbyn-ite element of the Labour party does not attempt this process of "re-education"? The path to wisdom must include some self-understanding. Yet the Labour party's anti-Semitism problem comes from people who propel the very hatred they profess to despise. As such, they remain in no position to "re-educate" anyone, as they so stubbornly refuse to educate themselves.
South Australia father has smacking (spanking) conviction overturned
A father found guilty of assault for smacking his 12-year-old son as a form of discipline has had the verdict overturned.
South Australia's Supreme Court has ruled the actions of the Air Force pilot, who smacked his son three times, were not unreasonable for the purpose of correcting behaviour.
Justice David Peek said the smacks, one to the boy's bare thigh and two to his shorts, left some redness but no bruising and did not warrant the guilty verdict.
The incident happened in 2014 after a dispute over a takeaway meal when the father, who was divorced from the boy's mother, moved to discipline his son over what he considered his disrespectful behaviour.
The following day the boy took himself to his mother's home and later went to a police station to lay a complaint.
A magistrate subsequently found the father guilty of criminal assault but did not record a conviction or impose a penalty.
In his judgement on Monday, Justice Peek found that the suffering of some temporary pain and discomfort by the child would not transform a parent attempting to correct a child into a person committing a criminal offence.
"In all of the present circumstances, it was established on the evidence that the actions of appellant were bona fide for the purpose of parental correction and that his conduct was not unreasonable," Justice Peek said.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.