August 19

Health Care: Right or Privilege?

the following is a letter of opinion written by my father today in response to a letter of opinion in the local paper: Is universal health care a right or a privilege for Americans?

I read with interest the letter from Mr. John Murphy of Franklin, and would like to share some thoughts on this subject. On many of the points raised, Mr. Murphy and I would agree: the populace is very anxious and untrusting of our government, and rightly so. It does seem that our country has been slowly strolling toward Socialism for decades, and now we are at a full sprint. Policies that would have been unthinkable to our founding fathers have been slowly but surely by small increments passed into law, and today the concepts of individualism have given way to a victim mentality, where even those who know and understand the history of our country, as well as the history of Socialism, have a sense that it is permissible to take “from each according to his ability” and give the product of his time and effort “to each according to his need”.

Our Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This indicates that rights are given by our Creator, not by our governing officials. If our representatives are elected by us, and are conceptually our paid employees, then how on earth does it fall to them to “allow” us to have certain rights or not, as they might deem appropriate? How are we to know what the “unalienable rights” are? I would submit that they include but are definitely not limited to things like the right to bear and raise children, own property, eat as we please, and worship God. Does this sound ridiculous? Are there countries where these rights are suppressed by governments? Absolutely! Which countries are these? Countries ruled by Socialism, Fascism, and Communism. Given to men by the Creator, these rights still exist in those countries, but are suppressed, and acting on those rights is punishable.

As Americans we also have specific rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, including the rights to free speech, to keep and bear arms, to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure, and to trial by jury, among others. Note that the Ninth Amendment mentions other rights “retained by the people”. While these rights are intentionally not specified, they are generally assumed to include such ideas as the right to travel, and the right to presumption of innocence, and similar ideas that seem to fit in well with the “unalienable rights” discussed above.

How then is a privilege defined? “A special advantage, immunity, or benefit not enjoyed by all, or that may be enjoyed only under special conditions.” Who determines societal privileges? We, the people do this, en masse, by setting up powers and authorities who we hope will represent our best interests as a group, in other words, government. As they should, governing bodies grant privileges to law-abiding citizens, and deny privileges (and even some rights) to those who are found by their peers not to have conformed to our laws. The privilege of driving a vehicle can be restricted by a finding of unlawful behavior. Nationally, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote because of laws that prohibit voting by people with felony convictions. The worst offenders among us may even be denied the right to Life by our penal system, and many would agree that our government has an obligation to the law-abiding to deny some privileges and some rights to some who violate our laws. So, privileges are granted by the people to the people.

Where does health care fall in this continuum? It does not enter this arena at all, whatsoever. Why? Because the health care industry is just that, an industry, comprised of thousands of independent businesses, large and small. Does your neighbor have the authority to force you to give to him the property which you own? Absolutely not. Does the government have the authority to force any private business, owned by people like ourselves, to now operate in a way dictated by another who has no ownership of that business? Absolutely not, and if you disagree, please show me the Constitutional article, section, or amendment from which that authority derives. Health care is neither a right nor a privilege, but a commodity which is able to be purchased from a business entity, in the same way that one would purchase a loaf of bread or an automobile. What gives our government the authority to dictate to the seller of bread to whom he must sell and for what price? If we can’t afford the bread, we can make our own bread, but we can’t ask the government to force the baker to give us the bread! Like it or not, health care is exactly identical. If we can’t afford it (or just don’t care to buy it!), then we go without it, just as we would do without anything else we can’t afford. There are faith-based organizations and benevolent charities who can and will help those who need care, and if the people of this country were not so incredibly overtaxed, we would have more disposable income with which to help our own family members and to give to those charities as well.

I could continue indefinitely, but I believe that this is where we should begin. Primarily and immediately, keep the government out of our business and our businesses, including health care. Get them out of the businesses they’re already in which can be done by private enterprise. Lower our taxes so we the people can help our families and friends in need. Anytime the government, on any level, attempts to pass a bill into law, require a reference to the Constitutional article or amendment which would give them the authority to pass that bill into law. Finally, free enterprise and the capitalistic system always work to provide the best product for the best price, anytime and anywhere, without exception, when that system is allowed to operate free of government intervention, and especially so when done under the influence of Christian Scriptural principles. These facts are what made our country the strongest and most vibrant economy in the world in an amazingly short span of time. If we continue to walk away from these ideals, there is no doubt but that our freedoms and liberties, as well as our rights and privileges, will soon be nonexistent.

Yours truly,

Tom Fretts

June 10

preemptive, prolonged, “indefinite detention”

in case you are unaware of the topic, this link should provide the appropriate background: Rachel Maddow: Indefinite detention? Shame on you.

now for starters, for Rachel Maddow to come out against Obama on this policy was both surprising and energizing. but whether or not you care what Ms. Maddow had to say on the issue, let’s delve into my thoughts. most of the following is put together from a topic I started at my Facebook app, Take A Stand, entitled Obama: preemptive “Prolonged Detention”? yikes…:

the Constitution just got torn in half again. the Fifth Amendment contains the verbiage “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger“. it seems that clause was written about POWs specifically. POWs, to me, are “enemy combatants” captured on the battlefield – basically, caught red-handed. however, my problem with this detention policy is that the detainees essentially cannot be proven to be terrorists, but the government insists that they are, so they will “indefinitely” remain locked up. this is just a basic human rights violation. under this policy the military could go into any country, grab someone off the streets, and throw them in jail forever, without any due process. all because we declare we are “at war”.

now, I do not have a problem with the idea of POWs. I think it is a necessary action during wartime. I do have a problem with just “grabbing someone off the streets” because they seem like a terrorist. and while you may think that doesn’t happen, it does. for example, see the case of Abdullah Kamel Abudallah Kamel.

this man was nabbed and detained for over 5 years because he was carrying $15k and wearing a Casio wristwatch. given, the third reason cites that “One of the detainee’s known aliases was on a list of captured hard drives (sic) associated with a senior al Qaeda member.”; however, this allegation goes largely unconfirmed, and the president of the tribunal which tried him didn’t even know what the alleged alias was. yet the tribunal ruled that Kandari was an enemy combatant.

he was not the only man detained for wearing a Casio, there were a few others. these men lost years of their life, time with their family, watching their children grow up, because they had money and a watch, so we deemed them terrorists. I’m not okay with that.

I used to align with the utilitarian school of thought – that is, that the very small minority should sometimes suffer for the good of the majority. I now find myself on the opposite end of that spectrum, I suppose we would call it deontology – that is to say, that every minute action we take, we better be sure it’s the right one. because destroying an innocent man’s liberty is against the most basic roots of this country, and I am not okay with that.

last note: if we suspect someone of terrorism, fine. detain them, but afford them due process, one of the least of all human rights, not just an American right. 5 years is too long; 5 months, or WEEKS, even. there is an international standard of holding someone for no longer than 30 days before trying them; I see no reason why we can’t follow this example, since we are following global policy in almost every other area these days.

please add your two cents in the comments, or in the original thread here!