On December 19th, 1998, the nature of our political discourse changed forever. President William Jefferson Clinton, who had an affair with an intern while in office, was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives in a largely party line vote. Shortly thereafter, on February 12th, 1999, the U.S. Senate acquitted him on, again, a party line vote.
From that point, the battle between Republicans and Democrats hardened in a way not seen in recent history, and the rage that existed between Americans of differing political persuasions got it’s fuel from a new, powerful communications medium: The Internet.
From that moment, almost every opportunity Republicans and Democrats had to fire a shot at the opposition was taken. Those shots rang across the nation in a matter of minutes, and then seconds, as the influence and availability of the internet permeated the fabric of our society. Impeachment led to charges of immorality on one side and stupidity on the other. The next presidential election was so charged with anger that it had to be decided, ultimately, by the Supreme Court.
That decision allowed the election of a President who had not won the popular vote but had won the Electoral College vote, and it was widely decried by opponents of the President-elect as an inside job…a takeover of our democracy by insidious corporate interests whose goal was a permanent takeover of our country. In other words, by the ENEMY.
Predictably, every person elected to public office since that time had to demonstrate fealty to one side or the other, and loyalty to a point of view became prized over governing ability for BOTH sides of the war. To be elected as a Democrat, candidates had to be dedicated to improving society through the use of government; to be elected as a Republican, limiting government through the reduction of tax revenues and services was the call to arms. The idea of being governed itself became the prize over which citizens fought and, in notable cases, died.
The role of the internet in this American civil war is that of a battlefield, where combatants mercilessly attack each other using the most powerful weapon ever invented…the weapon that has started every armed conflict in human history: words. Because the internet is both personal and anonymous, it easily gave rise to the worse within us…the darkness that resides in every person’s soul. Behavior on the Internet would never exist between most people in person, and many became offended by each disagreeable blog and tweet…inflaming passions with an almost pathological intensity for more and more citizens.
It isn’t satisfying enough, in battle, to fire a shot without knowing whether the target was hit and the wound was mortal. It only feels good when those on your side know of the fatality, and know if the war is being won or lost. It only counts if someone is keeping score.
Alas, as with ANY WAR BETWEEN GROUPS OF PEOPLE, the generals consider the rights of civilians as collateral damage, and the populace becomes filled with fear. Since the impeachment, under the title of “UNITING AND STRENGTHENING AMERICA BY PROVIDING APPROPRIATE TOOLS REQUIRED TO INTERCEPT AND OBSTRUCT TERRORISM ACT OF 2001 (the Patriot Act), the following individual rights were taken:
1. Freedom of Speech: any domestic groups that engage in nonviolent civil disobedience can be labeled as terrorists
2. Privacy: The government can request any information, even library records, on any individual it wants
3. Freedom of Association: Government can now investigate, and infiltrate, religious and political groups with no suspicion of criminal activity…otherwise known as domestic spying. You can now be subject to investigation because of your involvement with unwelcome groups, or statements you make publicly
4. Search and seizure: Law enforcement can conduct searches and wiretaps without establishing “probable cause”
5. Due Process: Americans can now be jailed without formal charges and without the right to confront witnesses or evidence against them
6. Legal Representation: Americans can now be detained without being given access to an attorney, and our government can monitor conversations between attorneys and clients
Additionally, law enforcement can now enter our homes if they only hear something they think is suspicious from the outside, and can search our vehicles without our permission.
Ironically, these rights were taken when the “limited government/individual rights” side of the war had the most power…when they were “winning the war”. The opposition became energized at the prospect of being ruled, without sufficient legal protection, by the other side, and renewed their commitment to defeating the “Enemy”.
They organized through the internet, using existing websites like MoveOn.Org (which started in 1998 in response to the impeachment), and Meetup.com, and new ones like DailyKos (which started in 2002…shortly after the passage of the Patriot Act). They enabled a new generation of generals (Howard Dean, Michael Moore, and others…most notably President Obama), and took the fight to the “enemy”.
The results were quick and astonishing. Democrats eventually controlled the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, and appointed 2 judges to the judicial branch. Surely, they hoped, government policies would now reflect the will of the people!
What wasn’t apparent, in each sides victories, was an understanding of the operation of government. Government is composed of people, and only exists through law. It is through law that government exerts control over its’ citizenry. So, when one side wins over the other, and presses the government to enact laws in alignment with their point of view only, those charged with governing see clearly the potency of our societal conflict…see the war itself…and they become fearful themselves. Civil war is a threat to government…obviously. To protect people from themselves, and to protect government from angry civilians, it will enact laws towards the goal of “protection”.
So, regardless of which side wins, new laws are created. Every law, by nature, is a limit…something that cannot be done. Because of this, it is ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO REMOVE A LAW ONCE IT IS ENACTED when two sides of society are in active conflict.
Imagine removing a bullet-proof vest while shots are being fired, and you’ll understand. No politician wants to be the one who made people more vulnerable, only to watch some fall because of the new vulnerability…certainly not if their employment depends on the people themselves.
The newest, and worst, of this dynamic is now upon us and, like it’s predecessor, it is titled to confer the sense of protection people yearn for in a time of conflict. Called the PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, it has the stated goal of bringing the benefits of our healthcare system within reach of every American. Of course, it doesn’t do that, and proponents of the law do not claim that the goal is reached.
What it DOES do is take away the most important right American citizens have standing between their freedom and control by our government: the right to our money. For the first time in the history of the United States of America, the federal government has taken control of our purchasing decisions…permanently.
In order to fund this law, the government can, by 2016, take $695 per adult and $348 per child if they do not buy health insurance from a private company. The penalty is indexed to inflation so, every year after 2016, it will increase…forever. For businesses (starting in 2014), it takes $3000 per employee, or $2000 per employee times every person the business employs minus the first 30, if they do not buy health insurance from a private company. THAT penalty will also increase forever.
These numbers are based on only 7% of people enrolling in 2014 (according to the Congressional Budget Office), even though several factors exist which guarantee a much higher level of participation:
1. The employer penalty, at $2000 per employee, is much cheaper than subsidizing health insurance currently averaging over $13,000 for family coverage.
2. The employer penalty is based on the household income of employees. No employer has the ability to know this information and, even if they could, the metric is a moving target under the best of circumstances. Many employers will trigger penalties even if offering qualified coverage.
3. People in state exchanges can choose from every carrier available in the exchange; in employer-sponsored coverage, they must use the option employers select.
4. The federal subsidy amounts are based on the ability of the individual to afford coverage, not the ability of the employer to pay for it, meaning better contributions for a majority of Americans than what employers provide. Additionally, if the federal government needs more money to fund this high level of contribution, it can take it from anyone, even those who did not purchase health insurance. NO EMPLOYER CAN DUPLICATE THIS LEVEL OF CONTRIBUTION, guaranteeing that everyone will eventually be in the exchange.
5. Employers would no longer have to administer health insurance plans; they only have to cut a check.
In assessing the cost of this law, the CBO estimate of 7% initial enrollment into PPACA exchanges translated to a $2.5 trillion dollar price tag. If just a third of Americans went into the exchanges, that cost would easily exceed $10 trillion dollars, and EVERY PENALTY WOULD HAVE TO INCREASE to help fund the law.
Ironically, this right was taken when the “corporations are taking control of our government” side of the war had the most power…when they were “winning the war”.
This is ironic because PPACA now gives health insurers more power over our money than we have, and solidifies the monopolies insurers have in almost EVERY STATE IN THE COUNTRY. The commodity being sold in insurance IS money, and the largest ones have the cash reserves available to buy the supply and demand side of the health care system (doctors and patients) by reducing premium relative to their competitors, then raising them when the competition is rendered helpless. This is the reason why premiums are high in the first place…not the uninsured. The uninsured represent a $54 billion dollar problem in a $2.5 trillion dollar health care market…or about 2%.
Even for those who wanted single payer, I’m sure they didn’t want it brought to them by Blue Cross or United Healthcare! Out of all options talked about during the drafting of PPACA, this is the worst possible outcome, and now the most likely.
Of course, the opposition is now energized at the prospect of being ruled, without sufficient financial protection, by the other side, and is renewing their commitment to defeating the “Enemy”. Already, their actions have resulted in stopping the ability of our government to govern, and put in jeapardy our nations ability to pay our bills. Since the 2010 elections, we have lost almost 1/6th of the value in our stock market, and each individuals’ retirement/401K has reduced accordingly…again.
And on it goes…
My name is Glenn Morton. I am the author of Passing Obamacare, a father of 4 children, and I am begging you all to STOP!!! As an insurance broker, I have used my almost 20 years of knowledge, and the last year of my life, to develop a better solution to the issue of high premiums and swelling ranks of uninsured that the forced participation, and taxation, of our employers and our citizens. I put the solution in a book because the average American couldn’t understand it any other way, and I am selling the book for money because WE cannot win our freedom without the financial resources to do so. I am not using this article to promote the book for my own sake, but for the sake of all of us, and all of our loved ones.
But WE, left and right, will not win if we don’t quit fighting the other side. The RIGHT was just in trying to protect our country from attack, but unjust in taking legal rights away to do so. The LEFT is right in trying to ensure healthcare for every American, but WRONG in taking financial rights away to do so. That is the nature of all things: no one can be all right or all wrong, and our government will always reflect the lack of collaboration between its’ citizens.
We are human beings! Making mistakes, and correcting them, is how we progress as people, and as a nation. Surely you realize that in your own life, and in how you raise your children…
If WE don’t stop, what rights are left for our children? What other capabilities can we lose? Right now, reproductive rights are on the field of battle again, as is social security…
What does victory look like? Is it only the complete capitulation of the other side? Is that the kind of American you see when you tuck your babies in at night? HOW FAR DO YOU WANT TO GO TO PROVE A POINT?
Are we ever going to come together Americans?
Then PLEASE HELP ME! God, please help me…