DON’T GET BERNED

Rock legend Mick Jagger could have had his lifesaving heart surgery in the UK, but he chose to have it in the USA. Jagger’s decision speaks volumes about health care in the two countries. But beware: Democrats, led by Bernie Sanders, want to bring UK-style care to our shores under the guise of “Medicare for all” or “single payer.”

First, let’s dispense with the cute focus-group-tested names and call Medicare for All what it really is: a hijacking of our healthcare system that would make Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez proud. When government commandeers an entire industry, it’s called nationalization. Instead of “I want you to have Medicare for all,” how about “I want to nationalize your healthcare.” At least it’s honest. Scary, but honest.

Before we turn over our health care and our lives to the government, Bernie and company need to answer some questions. Why is a massively inefficient government the best vehicle to administer health care? What’s proposed is a socialist model; every socialist takeover of any industry has resulted in shortages and long waits; why will it be different this time? Will they create an agency to deny care like the UK has done with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)? Politicians only know how to count votes and money; why are politicians the best choice to run health care for every American? Democrats had a chance to reform health care and instead gave us the mess that is Obamacare, fraught with high premiums, high co-pays and high deductibles. Why do Democrats deserve a second chance? Every Democrat who voted for Obamacare lied about it (including Sens. Sanders and Gillibrand– why should we believe anything they say about health care now?

All they have to do to cover every American is to just say “you’re covered.” It’s that easy, but getting people to a doctor is a much tougher trick. Currently, there are 940,000 physicians practicing in the US. Throw in 388,000 physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners, and that brings the number to 1.3 million healthcare providers in the US to care for 325 million people. With these numbers, we can draw up the waiting list right now. Getting a medical degree takes smarts and loads of determination. It takes four years of undergraduate study, four years in medical school and 3-plus years in residency. That’s why doctors are rare. Doctors in Canada and the UK are paid less, so many go abroad to work, creating doctor shortages in their own countries. Where is Bernie going to get the doctors? Or does he plan to wave a magic wand and make them appear?

They say we will save oodles by having the government as the single payer. Not true. Every doctor’s office already submits claims on the same form and uses the same codes to bill for services. All a government takeover will accomplish is to change the mailing address of the bill. The government will have to hire legions of bureaucrats to administer health care to the masses (that’s us). How many? In the UK the National Health Service (NHS) employs 1.5 million to run health care for 66 million Britons, making the NHS the biggest employer in the UK and the 5th largest employer in the world. Extrapolating from the NHS number to 325 million Americans means we will need 7.4 million new bureaucrats. Medicare, the government program designed for seniors, already has unfunded liabilities of $37 trillion. Efficient? No. Money-saving? I don’t think so.

Bernie and his followers love the British system. They always cite the per-capita healthcare spending of the US ($10,224) versus the UK ($4,246) to scold us about how stupid and wasteful we are. The per-capita number is so cold. Let’s try it in human terms. Would you volunteer to have less spent on you or your loved ones when they are in need? Bernie, Kirsten, I don’t see your hands up.

The National Health Service is virtually all that remains of Britain’s brief and painful flirtation with socialism. Like any socialist system, the NHS is centrally planned. A fixed amount of money is allocated by Parliament and is then distributed to where the planners think it should go. When the money runs out, so does health care. The central planners are often wrong. Circumstances arise that the planners didn’t anticipate.

In 2015, an NPR report found that hospitals and ER’s in the UK were overcrowded. It was so bad that ambulances full of suffering patients were left outside hospitals for five hours. Paramedics were forced to treat these unfortunate patients. Hospitals locked doors to keep patients out. To quote the NPR story, “the horror stories just keep coming in.” A 2009 story in the Daily Telegraph found thousands of hospitalized patients were thirsty and hungry. Thousands more were suffering from repeatedly canceled operations. As recently as 2018 the NHS was having a “Winter Crisis” with the influx of patients overwhelming the NHS ability to care for them. That’s the tragedy of central planning: no anticipation, no flexibility equals human suffering. It’s not because of a lack of funding. Health care spending in the UK has increased 160% from 2000 to 2015. Guess what else has increased from 2000 to 2015? Britons’ spending on private health care. It has gone up 233%.

Mick Jagger chose us for two reasons: timeliness and quality. The socialist model always forces people to wait and diminishes quality. No amount of money will fix that. Put yourself in the shoes of a union member or a senior. Nationalization will take away your hard-won plan. Medicare will no longer be for seniors, and deluxe union plans will be outlawed. There will be no choice; it’s the government plan or no plan. There are many lessons to be learned here. Let’s make sure we all get it and tell everyone about it. Our lives depend on it.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

SANCTUARY DENIED

I got a kick out of President Trump floating the idea of releasing recently captured illegal aliens into sanctuary cities. Naturally, Democrats and their allies in the media lost what’s left of their minds. Here’s the headline from USA Today: “Report: White House wanted to release immigrants into sanctuary cities to punish Democrats.”

The link to the story follows:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/04/11/white-house-release-immigrants-sanctuary-cities-report/3442543002/

Punish Democrats? Are you kidding? This is a gift, an inner city revitalization plan on steroids. Remember what Democrats have been telling us. There is no crisis on the southern border…so the number of illegals must be a mere trickle. No big deal for any city to handle, sanctuary or otherwise. Illegals commit less crime than Americans, making their cities safer. The more illegal aliens, the lower the crime rate, and the safer the city, right? (Just ignore the teensy matter of crossing the border illegally.) Also, according to Democrats, illegals boost the economy. They will not be a drain on local governments by gobbling up social services; quite the contrary, they will rev the economy into overdrive. So, bring on the border hoppers! The more the merrier, because more illegals means more economic growth. Illegals, who are just looking for a better life, will do the jobs lazy and stupid Americans won’t do. And since diversity is our strength, more illegal border crossers means more diversity and, naturally, stronger communities. Besides – and never ever forget this, you Trumpers – the sanctuary city crowd are far better people than you!

I don’t understand why it took President Trump to come up with this idea. Given all of the benefits that under-educated foreign lawbreakers bring to a community, you would have thought Pelosi, Cuomo, et. al. would have thought of it first. But no, their heads are exploding, and the propaganda arm of the Democrat party -the news media – falls right in line.

Lying hypocrites? You bet.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

IS SOCIALISM ASCENDANT?

Socialism is on the rise in the US, according to an August 2018 Gallup poll. Democrats have a more positive view of socialism than capitalism by 57% to 47%. The trend is even more pronounced among young people aged 18 to 29, who favor socialism to capitalism by 51% to 45%. Obviously they don’t know about the repeated failures of socialism and the misery it always causes.

Membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has increased. Two DSA members are now in Congress – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and Rashida Tlaib (D). The DSA’s mission statement is: “…we share a vision of a humane society based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equity and non-oppressive relationships.” This may sound compassionate, but to achieve “control” they must confiscate private property, regulate anything they don’t confiscate and then prosecute anyone who breaks any of their many new rules. There is nothing “democratic” about this, and it is not compassionate.

The latest example of this failed idea is Venezuela. Since Hugo Chavez took over in 1999, 1.5 million have left the country. The Venezuelan economy contracted by 16% in 2016, 14% in 2017, and the prediction is for another 15% in 2018. Starving Venezuelans are looting stores to find food, and nationwide rolling blackouts have resulted in the death of hospital patients.

Another blazing example of socialism’s utter failure comes from the mother country, the United Kingdom. The UK gave us the hallowed institutions of private property rights, common law, rule of law and representative government. It is an efficient country; the trains and buses run more or less on time and the mail gets delivered. If any country could make socialism work, it’s the UK. But they couldn’t make it work.

In 1945 Britons tossed the conservative government of Winston Churchill in

a landslide in favor of Clement Attlee’s Labor government. The Labor slogan was “a socialist party and proud of it,” and they meant it.

The Attlee government nationalized banking, utilities, transportation, health care, mining and steel. What they did not take over they hyper-regulated. The coal industry is a prime example. At the time, coal was used to heat homes and power industry and the railroads; it was the fuel that made

British society go. The Minister of Fuel and Power (similar to a Cabinet appointee in the US but more powerful) appointed a board of nine coal industry leaders to run every coal company in the UK. Coal shortages left Britons in the cold during the unusually chilly winter of 1946-47. But the misery didn’t end there.

Britons still had food rations three years after the end of WWII. In 1948 the average weekly ration for each citizen was 13 oz. of meat, 1.5 oz. of cheese, 6 oz. of butter or margarine, 1 oz. of cooking fat, 8 oz. of sugar, 2 pints of milk and 1 egg. That’s for a full week. Naturally, people were losing weight.

When people are hungry and cold they will find ways to fill those needs, and that leads to prosecutions. The Ministry of Food criminally charged a grocer for selling a few extra pounds of potatoes. Another shopkeeper was fined for selling candy made with his own sugar ration.

Every vestige of this failed program has since been torn out, root and branch, except for the National Health Service (NHS). Why the creaking NHS remains is the subject of another article.

Certain of their success and giddy when they seized the reins of power, the socialists had said,“…a planned socialist system is more efficient than a private enterprise capitalist system…within democratic socialist planning the individual can be given broader social justice, greater security, and more complete freedom than under capitalism.” Does this sound familiar? These same tired promises are heard now from Bernie Sanders, AOC and the rest.

The term Democratic Socialist is literally non-sense. The DSA attaches the word “democratic” to socialism to make it sound friendly. The Nazi party was elected, too, but was Nazism democratic? No. An elected totalitarian is still a totalitarian. Fancy language and gaudy promises disguise the true intent, which is the intent of every totalitarian: control. Elections will not change the ugly spots on this dangerous cat.

Here’s what Winston Churchill said about socialism. “The French have a saying, ‘Drive nature away, and she will return at a gallop.’ Destroy the free market and you create a black market: you overwhelm the people with laws and regulations, and you induce a general disrespect for the law…you may try to destroy wealth, and find that all you have done is increase poverty.”

And now Democrat presidential candidates are proposing to nationalize health care and energy production in the guise of a “Green New Deal” and “Medicare For All.” Having failed to learn history, they want us to recreate the human misery caused by socialism.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

MUELLER CLEARS TRUMP

This is a great day for America. The Mueller report is in and the headline should be:

MUELLER: NO RUSSIA COLLUSION – NO OBSTRUCTION – NO NEW INDICTMENTS.

As usual, a great day for America is a bad day for progressives and the Democrat party. They hoped that Mueller would get Trump. Their in-the-tank media told them so. How many times have their dull pundits said, “the walls are closing in on Trump?” Democrats by nature are unprincipled. Adam Shiff said he had proof of Trump’s collusion. Speaker Pelosi repeatedly said that Putin had something on Trump. Democrats sowed the seeds of distrust in our elections by saying “Russia hacked our democracy.” Winning at any cost is not a principle; it is the absence of principle.

This has done real damage. Polls find that registered Democrats now believe votes were changed or somehow manipulated. This makes no sense. How is it even possible to change votes in our very decentralized system? President Obama himself acknowledged this and said that no votes had been changed.

This shameful hoax began in the Obama administration with a fraudulently obtained FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign, using a demonstrably false dossier paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign. Democrats and their media allies conspired to corrupt our elections, intelligence agencies and the justice system because they lost an election.

The Mueller report will not end the Democrat effort to delegitimize President Trump. They will find another pretext to smear, damn with innuendo and investigate. It is who they are. But the big takeaway is that the Obama-led FBI and Justice Department spied on an opposition political campaign. Democrats didn’t just “hack our democracy.” They did far worse—they tried to overturn an election, thereby destroying democracy to gain power. This must be fully investigated, and the perpetrators of this fraud must be held to account.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

CHANGE TO WIN

Running for office as a Republican is needlessly difficult. It’s a system that is crying out for reform.

Just to get on the ballot, Republican candidates must go through the “petition process,” getting petitions from the Board of Elections and getting them signed by not less than 3% of registered Republicans in the district in which they’re running. To accomplish this, the candidate and members of the Republican Committee, all good people and volunteers, go door to door to obtain the required signatures. A Republican candidate for Corning Town Council, for example, will need about 70 signatures to appear on the November ballot.

Gathering signatures may sound simple. It is not. Citizens can be reluctant, even defensive, when asked to sign a document they’ve never seen before. They ask, “What is this? Why do you need my signature? What for? Why are you bothering me with this?” Lengthy explanations are necessary.

Finally, the completed petitions are submitted to the Board of Elections, and only then does the candidate get on the ballot. At this point, the committee members are done, and it is up to the candidate to campaign in the fall election. No one can blame the committee people for feeling they have done enough.

Republicans front-load all their volunteer time and energy into signing petitions. It’s hard to imagine a greater misallocation of people’s effort.

In contrast, the Democrat Committee in the Town of Corning does not circulate petitions to put their candidates on the November ballot. They caucus and select a candidate. I’ve never met a Democrat who is burning to circulate a petition or is angry because they did not sign one. They don’t waste their volunteers’ efforts months before the general election. Democrats focus on the contest that matters—THE ELECTION! In 2017, Democrat Committee members in the Town campaigned alongside the candidate and helped elect a Democrat in a largely Republican district.

I rarely agree with Democrats on anything, but they have us on this one. New York is a deep blue state that gets bluer by the day. As of now, Democrats enjoy at least a 2:1 advantage over us in voter registration. Doesn’t it make sense to put our energy into the November election?

We are, incidentally, discouraging good Republicans from running for office.

We need to abandon petitions and go to a caucus system. We need to change the role of a committee person from late winter signature-gatherer to fall campaigner. Republican Committee members could concentrate on knocking on doors, distributing literature and lawn signs, stuffing envelopes – in short, doing what is necessary to win an election. The focus of committee members should not be on getting signatures in March, but on helping candidates win in November.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph.D.

NO PRINCIPLES!

Democrats have no principles. A bold statement, to be sure, but I can back it up. Just watch Governor Cuomo twisting himself into a logical pretzel over SALT (state and local taxes.) The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, better known as the Trump tax cuts, passed in December of 2017, limiting the amount of state and local taxes deductible on federal income tax returns to $10,000. This effects only wealthy taxpayers. Who else has deductions of state and local taxes of $10,000 or more?

Cuomo and his Democrat buddies run New York. They have held every statewide office since 2007 and enjoy a 2:1 advantage in voter registration. Democrats are always trying to increase taxes on the “rich.” They have demonized the rich

since FDR – he called them “princes of privilege” and “economic royalists.” Now Democrats call them greedy, selfish and so on. This is as dumb as it is cynical. So when the Republicans limited the SALT deduction, effectively raising taxes on the wealthy, you would think Democrats would be rubbing their hands in glee. But no, they were angry. They blamed Trump and his Republican colleagues for raising taxes on the wealthy – which wouldn’t be possible if Cuomo and company hadn’t raised them to begin with.

The following may be too sensible for most Democrats to grasp, but state and local taxes are the responsibility of the states and localities. What Cuomo is angry about is that his high taxes are no longer subsidized by other states with lower taxes. Cuomo and his cronies are now exposed, they have to own the effects of their “tax the rich” policies, and he is not happy.

New York is now facing a shortfall in projected revenue of $3.2 billion, the direct result of wealthy New Yorkers leaving the state. Cuomo calls this “serious as a heart attack.” The top 1% of New York’s highest earners pay 46% of all taxes. Maybe Democrats should now love the rich; 46% of all taxes sounds like the rich are “paying their fair share.” A reporter asked if the state should yet again raise taxes on the rich.” Cuomo said, “Tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich. We did! Now, God forbid the rich leave.” When average New Yorkers leave the state, as they have been, Cuomo is unfazed. We’ve lost 1.9 million people between 2005 to 2016, well before the SALT limitations took effect. First Cuomo blamed the weather for the New York exodus, now he blames Republicans.

Democrats (progressives) love taxes and regulations and hate incentives, which is what is needed. In the competition between the states for jobs, taxpayers wealthy and not, New York is the loser. Cuomo never mentioned the things that would bring people back to the state, a meaty tax cut and a corresponding reduction in New York state’s bloated government.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

HEALTHCARE FACTS

In full disclosure, I’m a psychologist in a busy private practice which is in its 28th year. So I know a bit about health care from the inside, including health insurance. This is a view that few if any politicians have.

Ever since Obamacare was passed, I’ve noticed two things. One, every patient I’ve seen with Obamacare insurance has had gargantuan deductibles, usually in the neighborhood of $3,000 to $5,000. This means that the patient must pay for everything up to that number before insurance kicks in. From a practical point of view, they have no coverage. This illustrates the great lie of government health care, which is the promise of coverage with no access to a doctor.

If that wasn’t bad enough, try the next one on for size. Every spring, to comply with the ACA (Obamacare), I’m asked to turn over the “complete medical record” of a selected few patients for audit. When I tell them I must first ask my patients, they invariably say that the patients have already signed a consent, and that I must surrender the records NOW! Consider for a moment the deeply personal things patients confide in a therapist. My response is, has been, and ever will be: No, I must first talk to my patient and I’ll get back to you. When I call the patients to tell them of this demand, they are uniformly horrified and outraged. But, not to worry: a consent given can be revoked. And every patient I contacted has revoked their consent.

Healthcare should always be between doctor and patient, a bond of trust. I work for the patient, and my primary interest is his well-being and health. This is the way health care has been and should always be. Your doctor should never be an agent of social change or social justice (the government.)

Progressives say that eliminating insurance companies and having one centralized source for claims will save money. As of now, every healthcare professional already submits claims on one form (HCFA 1500), uses standardized codes for billing, and submits claims online. We may realize savings from not having to call for permission for various medical procedures, but that pre-supposes the single-payer (the government) will always says yes. I have my doubts about this. In the end, it’s not much of a saving.

To keep health care between doctor and patient, we must reject single-payer.

Michael Morrongiello, Ph. D.