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The Tentacle


January 22, 2009

Itís a New Day

John W. Ashbury

Well, it‘s done. Barack Obama is president. His inauguration was a historic event. The emotion and the tears are appropriate when you consider our history as a nation, and what this election declares to the world about us.

 

President Obama has done, so far, just about what I would have wanted him to do. He has chosen strong-minded people to serve with him, and people of diverse political affiliations and backgrounds.

 

He has taken unprecedented steps in the direction of inclusion, his dinner with John McCain the night before his inauguration being a prime example

 

His intelligence and his grasp of complex issues are uncanny, not to mention his ability to communicate them to others.

 

He is behaving in many ways like a normal guy. I loved it when he responded to the uproar that ensued when he went outside without a shirt while on vacation, by saying it was silly; and that he was becoming accustomed to the fact that there is a lot of silliness associated with his new job. It was silly!  Since when can a guy not take off his shirt in Hawaii?

 

I like his ideas about reforming our health care system better than any I’ve heard. For a quick start, I suggest he begin by mandating that health care providers not be penalized for accepting cash payment from the uninsured equal to that of the lowest insurance reimbursement. At present cash payments are billed at a higher rate than insurance companies pay.

 

That way the uninsured could more afford their medical bills. Those who could afford some insurance could purchase catastrophic only, pay the rest of their bills in cash and save a lot of money over regular insurance premiums. This would certainly help more people to manage their own health care. I, for example, have health care costs generally that are about one fourth of my monthly premium. If I could get a discount for cash, I’d be in heaven.

 

My liberal friends are delighted with the election, convinced that this man will bring us much needed change. My conservative friends are quite unhappy. They are adamant that big government is bad, and they are convinced that Barack Obama and the Democrats will take us down the path to bigger government.

 

I, descendent of independent country farmers, some of whom probably still have their money buried in fruit jars somewhere, have always been on the small government side. From the time of the infamous $600 defense department toilet seat, to the Oliver Hazard Perry elementary school on a small U.S. military base in the Philippines, where the teachers asked for art supplies and got instead an unwieldy computer system, I have believed in small government. Just leave me the heck alone, I and my forbears shout.

 

It doesn‘t quite work, though. For one thing, we don‘t have the guts as a society to let the chips fall where they may, and that is essential to small government. Deregulation and bailouts do not work together.

 

If people don‘t want to wear motorcycle helmets, they – and society – need to allow them the consequences in the case of an accident. It would not be fair to tax-paying society to provide government-funded medical care or rehab to a head-injured, non helmet wearing motorcyclist.

 

I personally believe that, in a relatively wealthy society, there is a moral requirement to care for the helpless. I don’t see individuals and small communities footing the bill for this. Government, therefore, has to provide some sort of safety net.

 

In the last decade or so, we have seen, many times, the opposite outcome of that projected by laissez-faire capitalists. Instead of the building of capital and wealth, we have seen bandits and scam artists scuttling off with fraudulently obtained loot. Every regulatory loophole has been exploited for private gain. I’m afraid man is just not noble enough to do without government.

 

On the other hand, speaking of man’s ignobility, government is excessively costly, and fraught with waste. It’s hard to stomach listening to an aspiring politician propose to spend my tax dollars on some just-thought-up scheme to make the world a better place, or on pork for his local community. Excessively idealistic I may be, but I think our national government representatives should be concerning themselves with the betterment of the country. Silly me!

 

What I like about our new president is his call for careful review of government spending, and government regulation, along with increased personal responsibility.

 

Allow me to suggest that he add general government transparency, simplification of legislation with removal of earmarks and pork from all bills, dramatic simplification of our tax code and clear and simple regulations without redundancy.

 

Thanks, President Obama, for calling for a return to America’s core values, and to human rights.

 

Thanks for your call for responsible spending.

 

Thanks for asserting to our enemies that we won’t let them win, and that our spirit is strong.

 

Thanks for standing up for inclusion of people of all religions, races, genders, and sexual orientation into the mainstream of society.

 

Thanks for your call for community service.

 

Thanks for reaching out to the world in a respectful way.

 

God Speed! But…

 

…I’m watching, praying and keeping my fingers crossed, too.

 



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