Archive | July 2011

What I believe: Entitlements

As with every post in this category, I beg you… please do not shut off your brain and start assuming you know everything I believe because of a single phrase. If you’ve taken the time to come here and read this, please actually read it. And think about it.

Here’s the tl;dr version: I think entitlements need a massive overhaul. Those who really need care should get it, because we are a civilized country and we should, therefor, not leave those who can’t help themselves out in the cold to die. However, those who are abusing the system need a swift kick to the curb. Of course, the question becomes – does overhauling and then enforcing the system actually save money? Is it possible that “fixing” it would cost us more than just leaving it alone?

The right would have us believe that everyone on welfare is cheating the system, living the high life on your hard earned tax dollars, and squeezing out an extra kid every year or two just to maintain their luxurious lifestyle – The Welfare Queen, as they like to call it.

On the other hand, the left would have us believe that everyone on welfare is helpless to help themselves, unable to better their situation, and therefor must be supported by the state.

I’m not sure which view offends me more: the assumption that they’re all cheats, or the assumption that they’re all sheep.

Now, I have no idea what the proportion of cheats to actual needy is, but I do know that there ARE actual needy, there are people who can not help themselves, and that I do not want to live in a nation that turns its back on the helpless. There is one other category of needy to consider, those who are on welfare and desperately want off. These people take advantage of programs that help them go to college, provide day care for their children so they can go, and then they become taxpayers themselves.

The SoonerDVM Plan

I simply don’t have the knowledge of the system required to come up with the details but the broad version goes like this: reopen and examine the case of every individual/family receiving Aid for Families with Dependent Children (do they still call it that?), medicaide, food stamps, housing assistance, disability, et al.

  • We can then divide the results into four broad categories:
    • Those found to have been abusing the system – genuine fraud.
      • All assistance removed immediately and prosecuted for fraud.
    • Those who do not have any barrier to employment (I am NOT talking about people who are on unemployment, here – not people who are unemployed d/t the economy).
      • This group will be given a set time (say, three to six months) and then their assistance will end.
      • Why the delay? According to the right, this and the above are the largest group. It will do more harm to the system than good to dump millions of people with no legal way to support themselves into the street overnight.
    • Those who are capable of working but have barriers – for instance an unskilled high school dropout with five kids cannot find a job that will pay her more than it will cost for day care for her children.
      • For these people, I suggest a model somewhat like the student loan program.
      • Will be provided assistance to obtain training (GED, vo-tech, college, whatever is appropriate, day care), for a reasonable length of time (that single mother of five probably cannot complete college in four years, for instance).
        • By the way, this sort of assistance already exists in the system.
      • At the end of that “reasonable time” they will have an additional X months to find a job.
      • Once they have a job, they will be expected to pay back the cost of their assistance. Payments will need to be low enough and long term enough so that they don’t become another barrier on their own.
    • Those who genuinely cannot support themselves.
      • this would mainly be the disabled. Their assistance will continue.
  • In addition, those who are capable of work should work. There are plenty of volunteer, community service type positions available. I am in no way suggesting those on welfare should be treated as indentured servants, but helping out in some way will help them in so many ways, from self-esteem to gaining skills.
  • Drug testing for those receiving assistance – I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, if you can afford drugs, then you should be able to afford to pay your own bills and buy your own food. On the other hands, there’s a whole litany of constitutional and ethical considerations including assumption of guilt that we have to remember. On yet another hand, there’s questions whether the cost of testing actually outweighs the benefit of removing those testing positive. Whether I’m for or against drug testing those on welfare varies from day to day.

So, what would “The SoonerDVM Plan” cost? I have no idea. Would it save enough money long term to pay for itself? Would the continued cost of investigating new cases be offset by the reduction in those receiving assistance? I don’t know. But I do know entitlement spending has got to come down. We simply can not afford to sustain an entire class of people who could be working and contributing.

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A non-story – Sarah Palin and Canadian Health Care

(originally posted on Facebook June 30, 20110)

Guys… let’s make sure there actually is something to get outraged about before we start getting all puffed up about something.

 

This morning, while doing my morning self-caffeination  and web browsing, I happened across a comment about Sarah Palin having taken advantage of Canadian health care.  “Woah!” I thought, “This is awesome!”

 

I immediately googled it and found lots of hits. Tee hee!  I scanned down until I found a source that wouldn’t be immediately dismissed as a liberal smear campaign and started gleefully reading.

 

Caught in the act of blatant hypocrisy, right? Well, no….

 

To start with,  it happened when she was a kid. Which means her parents took advantage of Canadian health care.

 

Then, it turns out they were living in a little town right on the Canadian border. Meaning that in an emergency, of course they went to the closest medical facility – which was, in this case, the one across the border.

 

And, since they aren’t Canadian, they had to pay for it, and their insurance wouldn’t.

 

And finally, Canada didn’t enact the current version of their health care system until the ’80s.

 

So… bottom line: This isn’t a story. Her parents sought emergency care at the nearest emergency facility a few times. I’d be more offended if they’d ignored the nearby Canadian hospital in order to seek US care in an emergency.

 

I’m reminded of the recent Rick Santorum “got his wife an abortion” story that is 90% complete fabrication. And the thing that really frustrates me about that is that the thing he actually did say was bad enough… why did we have to make stuff up?

 

Guys – and this goes out to everyone – for your own credibility – make sure there actually is a story before making a big deal out of something because it just makes it even more likely that the other side will blow you off if you get caught making a big deal out of something that isn’t, or something that isn’t even true.

 

I don’t care that Sarah Palin’s parents occasionally got medical care in Canada. I don’t care. It’s not a story, it’s not an issue.

The problem with gun laws

(originally posted on Facebook Jan 14, 2011)

Here’s the problem with gun control laws: Criminals, by definition, do not obey the law. If you, say, ban extended capacity magazines then all the extended capacity magazines do not suddenly go POOF! and vanish. No, instead, the criminals all keep theirs, and the law abiding citizens no longer have access to them. Meaning that once again, criminals become better armed than the good guys.

Banning handguns on campuses only prevent people who are inclined to obey rules from carrying. Those who regularly ignore rules will walk right on past that imaginary boundary with their weapon. And when some kook does decide to try to top the “worst mass shooting on any college campus!” all the “good guys” will be disarmed, because they obeyed the rules. There will be no one armed and able to stop him until police arrive. And how long is that going to take?

The same is true of Gun Buster signs on business doors. Do you really think that a criminal intent on robbing the place will see that sign and say, “Oh, gosh… I can’t bring my gun in there. I guess I won’t  rob it.” No, in fact, he’ll look at it and say, “Oh.. great! There probably isn’t anyone armed in there who can stop me from doing whatever I want!.”

Every time you put a restriction on our ability to legally buy and possess firearms, you need to understand that you are only restricting people who obey the law from buying and possessing the means to defend themselves from the bad guys. The bad guys already have the means to illegally purchase and possess whatever weaponry they want. The criminals aren’t particularly going to worry about breaking another law – they are not going to plan a home invasion, including plans to kill anyone who sees their faces, and then suddenly say, “Oh, gosh… it’s illegal for us to HAVE these weapons. We should scrap the whole plan.”

When you hear about something like the shooting in Arizona, a very reasonable response is to look for some way to prevent similar tragedies from happening. And I am all in favor of preventing similar tragedies. But let’s make sure that in trying to do the right thing we’re not just preventing the good guys from being able to defend themselves from the bad guys.

Politics and Controversies: About this category

I was inspired to create this category after I noticed something interesting. My conservative friends have always called me liberal. I accept that label (even though I don’t see myself that way)  because, for the most part, I am more liberal than they are. However, recently, I’ve been amused to discover that my liberal friends consider me conservative. Or at least more conservative than they are.

Which leaves me wondering… “What the hell am I?”

So, when the mood strikes me to blog, I will pick up a topic and just discuss my thoughts and feelings on that topic.

Now, one thing to keep in mind:

I am a veterinarian, I am not a political science major. And since I am a veterinarian, I don’t especially have the time or the inclination to spend a lot of time researching.  I admit this freely.

My mind CAN be changed (I have done nearly a complete 180 degree turn on guns and gun rights in the last 5 years or so, for instance), but it will NOT be changed by Fox News sound bites. If you think I am wrong, feel free to point it out, as long as you can be civil and talk about facts.

I despise Fox News. I genuinely consider them a major part of the complete destruction of the art of civil discourse. It has suddenly become OK to not just hold in complete contempt someone with whom you disagree, but it is OK to SCREAM that contempt in a verbal tidal wave of Fox News rhetoric and personal insults.

However, I don’t watch MSNBC either. I generally avoid any “news” source that includes a clear bias.  I don’t like to be told how to think, and I am truly disappointed in many of my friends, many of whom are otherwise very intelligent people, who apparently have no problem with being told how and what to think by people with a clear agenda.

So, to sum up, I welcome civil, polite, respectful discussion on any topic I post, here, or otherwise, but whatever hateful drivel is being spewed on fox, and whatever they said on MSNBC last night – I don’t want to hear (yes, I know, I used much stronger language for Fox. I don’t respect MSNBC, but they are at least less hate-filled, fearful, and angry).

I will include some things I’ve already written and posted elsewhere (mainly Facebook), but I will try to put out new stuff at least weekly.

My prayer

I used to pray for a lot of things – strength, courage, guidance, and – if none of that – just help. Now, I find my prayer every night goes like this:

 

Dear God, please…

Please, God, please.

Please.

Themes galore

I cannot find a theme I like. I found one I loved for my business blog – http://athomemobilevet.wordpress.com/ but I keep trying new ones for this blog. I should spend as much time blogging as I do messing with the appearance!

Well, I’m back

I didn’t even remember I HAD a wordpress blog until I tried to create one and it said my email was already in the system.

Looks like I started trying to write about my feelings after my divorce, and never came back. Well, that doesn’t surprise me, really… I was very messed up after my divorce.

I started to delete those two posts… but…. Ya know, they were real, they were what I was feeling then. So, I’m leaving them. I might even add to that category a every now and then.