Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Way of "Public Options"

I have been worried a little about the “public option” the Obama administration has been pushing to include in the Health Care reform now making its way through both houses. The administration is claiming such things as increased competition and reducing costs as a reason for needing the government to take on the role of insurer. First, the government is already fully vested in insuring millions of people. There is a very large constituency who have a large stake in keeping the status quo as far as the government’s health care. They are the retired population who utilizes the system we know as Medicare.

Let’s take a moment and look at something a little unassociated with the current debates going on in Washington about the Health Care reform. Student Loans. The student loan program started back in 1965. It was a private/public partnership. In the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL, pronounced fell) the banks would loan money to students who would pay them back. The Federal Government would reimburse the banks for up to 97% of defaulted loans. That is a simple way to put it. Oh, I left out something many in Washington want everyone to remember. The Government took on the bad leaving the good (and the profits) to the banks. That too is a little over simplified.

So, in 1993, congress created an alternative to the banks. Students would cut out the middle man and borrow directly from the Federal Government. The excuse at the time was that the banks needed to have another source of competition. This was the way to reduce the cost to borrowers while increasing profits to the Government, who was insuring all the loans anyway.

Enter the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA). The house passed the bill the week of September 18, eliminating the private sector’s role in federal student loans altogether. If this bill passes the senate, the approximately 4,500 colleges and universities that are currently signed up for FFEL will have to abandon the program and start using the direct-loan option by July 1, 2010.

Now, is there a parallel between the government’s involvement in health care and the way the student loan programs have gone? I don’t know but there is an eerie familiarity to the argument for a “public option”.

This morning I got another message from requesting my money. Yeah, that is another thing I always like to read about in my inbox. In any case, they’ve created a new advertisement that suggests the “public option” is all about making it more competitive. An organization that is all about social medicine is arguing the lesser offense of a “public option” for health care that would stimulate competition.

I do not believe everyone arguing for a public option is seeing it as the gateway into a more socialized system. Some do, however.

The “public option” is considered by some the most important part of the Health Care legislation. Many, like the organization, are more interested in moving on a larger agenda that can benefit from a “public option”. I don't see the “public option” as truly beneficial to the citizens as a whole. Do you? Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Boycott a News Network?

You know I got myself on this mailing list. It was an accident, completely unintentional. Really. likes to send me things. They’re always looking for me to jump on the band wagon, sign petitions, contact my congressman and senators. It’s serious when I get a message from them. No, really serious and always urgent. Everything must be addressed today. Do not wait!! It was one of these messages I got this morning.

I guess President Obama has called for a boycott of Fox news. I have a hard time believing this but it is true. The man is concerned enough with what Fox has to say that he doesn’t want anyone to listen to the message.

I don’t remember ever hearing a past president take the time to call for such a silly effort in all my life. OK. There are sillier things. I don’t know if you remember when Natalie Holloway disappeared and there was some pressure for the Bush administration to something about it. His response, "My daddy hated broccoli and I'm gonna hate arugula. I don't see how this is gonna help find Natalie but my crack staff tells me it's the right thing to do. Ya'll let me know if this works because I'm just looking for a reason to boycott navy beans and beets. Did I ever tell you of the time I ate some beets and the next day my stools made me think I had a colon problem?" the President said. Now that is silly.

Still, President Obama is calling out the entire news network because of what a few commentators have allegedly done by attacking his nationalization of the health care system. No, I’m sorry. He isn’t trying to nationalize the health care system. His administration is just trying to get a better grasp on Health Care for all Americans. It is certainly considered a human right by many. Since it is considered a human right, then it is imperative we make health care available to all people. In any case, the White House communications director said FOX is a "wing of the Republican Party...let's not pretend they're a news network."

Let me see. FOX is a “wing of the Republican Party”? I don’t subscribe to this belief. Concerning the claim that they aren’t a news network I’d like to suggest a couple little points we should all consider. Brit Hume and Chris Wallace. Two members of the news staff at FOX. Two very good examples of what Journalism should be. Two members of the journalistic world that used to work for ABC and NBC respectively. While they spent a portion of their careers in the “real network news” they were both considered exceptional journalists. What happened?
I have watched NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX national news. I would suggest that none of the other networks can put anyone up against the experience either of these two men bring to the table. “Unbiased reporting of the news” is a fine descriptor of Brit Hume’s reporting style. Incredibly, I would be hard pressed to find any other reporter on today’s national stage that can match Mr. Hume.

The Democrats don’t like FOX. OK, I understand. There, on the FOX news channel, they won’t find many friends opining. President Bush and the Republicans would have been hard pressed to find a friendly opinion on any of the other networks. I do not recall any such call for action from the past administration that matches this call from the White House to stop listening to a valid news source.

I open myself to your best. Fillet me for my opinion. I’m ready. Still, it is quite silly to call for such an effort. has grabbed a hold of this bandwagon and is rushing to put some weight behind it.

This is a change in which I refuse to believe. Please, tell me why I am wrong.