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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand and Howard Roark

More on that $716,000,000,000 in Medicare Savings

In the last posting, an extensive article on the $716,000,000,000 in savings which the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will provide appeared.  Breaking down that amount, 

a. About one third will come from reduced payments to Medicare Advantage Plans which cost our government significantly more than traditional Medicare.  These plans often provide fringe benefits such as fitness services which other Medicare recipients do not get and also cover some co-payments and deductibles which traditional Medicare does not cover, making Medicare "supplements" unnecessary.

b. About one third will come from hospital payments which will be offset for the hospitals by more "paying" patients being admitted and finally, 

c. About one third will come from reducing waste, fraud and instituting efficiencies in the providers' delivery systems, none of which will reduce benefits presently received by those on Medicare.

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Political Trivia
Missouri Congressman Todd Akin won that state’s senatorial primary two weeks ago.  The other day, he made some sincere but nevertheless offensive comments about abortions in situations involving rape.  He attempted to distinguish between legitimate (or "forcible") rape where he contended the female body naturally reacts in a manner which would avoid pregnancy, and "other" kinds of rapes, which might result in pregnancies.  As a result, he may not get any votes in November from women voters.  None at all.  Probably not even his wife.  There is a possibility that he may end up being replaced on the ticket despite his winning the primary. 
The Democrats should recognize, however, that this is a man who has been re-elected to his Congressional seat five times and legitimately won the Missouri senate primary.  Could it be that his constituency backs this kind of thinking? 

(It might be noted that Congressman Paul Ryan has co-sponsored extremist legislation introduced by Akin over the years, including a bill which would permit coverage of abortions only when made necessary by "forcible" rape, but not the "other" kind of rape. Both Congressmen also have supported a "personhood" amendment to the Constitution which would make all abortion illegal.) 

  Peas in a Pod:  Todd Akin looks on as Ryan introduced the G.O.P.'s 2012 Budget in the House of Representatives

To paraphrase the late H.L. Mencken, “No one ever lost an election by underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” Democrats, beware!


Ryan, Rand and Roark 
A Repudiation of Isaiah, Jesus and John Donne

“Only by taking responsibility for oneself, to the greatest extent possible, can one ever be free.  And only a free person can make responsible choices between right and wrong, saving and spending, giving or taking.” 

 . . .  Paul Ryan

This is taken from the introduction to “A Roadmap to America’s Future,” the economic blueprint authored by Paul Ryan early in 2010.  They are beautiful words and to some extent influenced voters who sent a Republican majority to the House of Representatives later that year.  It remains the touchstone of his economic and political beliefs today.  It thrusts forward personal responsibility as the key to the freedom necessary to make important life decisions. 

This is the personal philosophy of Howard Roark, the fictional architect in Ayn Rand’s famous novel, The Fountainhead.   It is the antithesis of letting the government, or anyone else, take responsibility for you, thereby taking away your freedom to make your own choices.  This also is the philosophy found in Austrian economist Frederich Hayek's Road to Serfdom in which the idea is expounded that once such responsibility starts being given to government, as happened in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, there is no turning back.

                                     Hayek                                         Rand

Paul Ryan is an admirer of Rand, and asks his office staff to read her works.  Now that he is to be the G.O.P. Vice-Presidential nominee, however, he has backed off a bit, trying to make it clear that his admiration for Rand doesn’t go so far as sharing her atheism nor her personal philosophy of objectivism.  Ryan also has mentioned discussing Hayek, whom he also admires, with his college professors.

It would be wonderful to be a nation of pure individualists, each taking full responsibility for themselves.  Unfortunately, this would result in some of us being winners and some of us being losers. It amounts to "winner take all, and the devil take the hindmost."  And if the government has to be responsible for the welfare of the "hindmost," it also must involve itself in the choices which all individuals, including the winners, make for themselves.  Howard Roark in The Fountainhead worshiped at the shrine of the individual ego from which he believed all creativity flows, shunning anything even remotely “collective” or dependent on others.  And conversely, he owed nothing to his fellow man, despising altruism as a vice. 

The Fountainhead is a great book, published in 1943 in the shadow of totalitarianism which the author feared would spread to this country and would squelch individual rights.  Today, however, a nation of Howard Roarks would be an unmitigated disaster. Unfortunately, I suspect that Paul Ryan sees a little bit of Howard Roark in himself.

If you have not read The Fountainhead, I recommend that you do so.  At the least, read Roark’s famous courtroom speech, reproduced below. Although it will take a few minutes, it will be time well spent.  (If you google "roark courtroom speech," you can easily find and view via U-Tube the speech from the 1949 movie in which Gary Cooper played Roark, but reading it exactly as it appeared in Rand's novel is better.)


Jack Lippman

Howard Roark's
Courtroom Speech
From The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand (printed without permission)

“Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light. He was considered an evildoer who had dealt with a demon mankind dreaded. But thereafter men had fire to keep them warm, to cook their food, to light their caves. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had lifted dardness off the earth. Centuries later, the first man invented the wheel. He was probably torn on the rack he had taught his brothers to build. He was considered a transgressor who ventured into forbidden terrritory. But thereafter, men could travel past any horizon. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had opened the roads of the world.

“That man, the unsubmissive and first, stands in the opening chapter of every legend mankind has recorded about its beginning. Prometheus was chained to a rock and torn by vultures—because he had stolen the fire of the gods. Adam was condemned to suffer—because he had eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Whatever the legend, somewhere in the shadows of its memory mankind knew that its glory began with one and that that one paid for his courage.

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received—hatred. The great creators—the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors—stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.

“No creator was prompted by a desire to serve his brothers, for his brothers rejected the gift he offered and that gift destroyed the slothful routine of their lives. His truth was his only motive. His own truth, and his own work to achieve it in his own way. A symphony, a book, an engine, a philosophy, an airplane or a building—that was his goal and his life. Not those who heard, read, operated, believed, flew or inhabited the thing he had created. The creation, not its users. The creation, not the benefits others derived from it. The creation which gave form to his truth. He held his truth above all things and against all men.

“His vision, his strength, his courage came from his own spirit. A man's spirit, however, is his self. That entity which is his consciousness. To think, to feel, to judge, to act are functions of the ego.

“The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power—that it was self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover. The creator served nothing and no one. He lived for himself.

“And only by living for himself was he able to achieve the things which are the glory of mankind. Such is the nature of achievement.

“Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. Man has no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons—a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man—the function of his reasoning mind.

“But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act—the process of reason—must be performed by each man alone. We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach. No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred.

“We inherit the products of the thought of other men. We inherit the wheel. We make a cart. The cart becomes an automobile. The automobile becomes an airplane. But all through the process what we receive from others is only the end product of their thinking. The moving force is the creative faculty which takes this product as material, uses it and originates the next step. This creative faculty cannot be given or received, shared or borrowed. It belongs to single, individual men. That which it creates is the property of the creator. Men learn from one another. But all learning is only the exchange of material. No man can give another the capacity to think. Yet that capacity is our only means of survival.

“Nothing is given to man on earth. Everything he needs has to be produced. And here man faces his basic alternative: he can survive in only one of two ways—by the independent work of his own mind or as a parasite fed by the minds of others. The creator originates. The parasite borrows. The creator faces nature alone. The parasite faces nature through an intermediary.
“The creator’s concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite’s concern is the conquest of men.
“The creator lives for his work. He needs no other men. His primary goal is within himself. The parasite lives second-hand. He needs others. Others become his prime motive.
“The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary.

“The basic need of the second-hander is to secure his ties with men in order to be fed. He places relations first. He declares that man exists in order to serve others. He preaches altruism.
“Altruism is the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self.
“No man can live for another. He cannot share his spirit just as he cannot share his body. But the second-hander has used altruism as a weapon of exploitation and reversed the base of mankind’s moral principles. Men have been taught every precept that destroys the creator. Men have been taught dependence as a virtue.

“The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves. The relationship produces nothing but mutual corruption. It is impossible in concept. The nearest approach to it in reality—the man who lives to serve others—is the slave. If physical slavery is repulsive, how much more repulsive is the concept of servility of the spirit? The conquered slave has a vestige of honor. He has the merit of having resisted and of considering his condition evil. But the man who enslaves himself voluntarily in the name of love is the basest of creatures. He degrades the dignity of man and he degrades the conception of love. But this is the essence of altruism.

“Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution—or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement.

“Men have been taught that their first concern is to relieve the sufferings of others. But suffering is a disease. Should one come upon it, one tries to give relief and assistance. To make that the highest test of virtue is to make suffering the most important part of life. Then man must wish to see others suffer—in order that he may be virtuous. Such is the nature of altruism. The creator is not concerned with disease, but with life. Yet the work of the creators has eliminated one form of disease after another, in man’s body and spirit, and brought more relief from suffering than any altruist could ever conceive.

“Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone.

“Men have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egotist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge or act. These are functions of the self.

“Here the basic reversal is most deadly. The issue has been perverted and man has been left no alternative—and no freedom. As poles of good and evil, he was offered two conceptions: egotism and altruism. Egotism was held to mean the sacrifice of others to self. Altruism—the sacrifice of self to others. This tied man irrevocably to other men and left him nothing but a choice of pain: his own pain borne for the sake of others or pain inflicted upon others for the sake of self. When it was added that man must find joy in self-immolation, the trap was closed. Man was forced to accept masochism as his ideal—under the threat that sadism was his only alternative. This was the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on mankind.  “This was the device by which dependence and suffering were perpetuated as fundamentals of life.

“The choice is not self-sacrifice or domination. The choice is independence or dependence. The code of the creator or the code of the second-hander. This is the basic issue. It rests upon the alternative of life or death. The code of the creator is built on the needs of the reasoning mind which allows man to survive. The code of the second-hander is built on the needs of a mind incapable of survival. All that which proceeds from man’s independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man’s dependence upon men is evil.

“The egotist is the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner. He does not function through them. He is not concerned with them in any primary matter. Not in his aim, not in his motive, not in his thinking, not in his desires, not in the source of his energy. He does not exist for any other man—and he asks no other man to exist for him. This is the only form of brotherhood and mutual respect possible between men.

“Degrees of ability vary, but the basic principle remains the same: the degree of a man’s independence, initiative and personal love for his work determines his talent as a worker and his worth as a man. Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. What a man is and makes of himself; not what he has or hasn’t done for others. There is no substitute for personal dignity. There is no standard of personal dignity except independence.

“In all proper relationships there is no sacrifice of anyone to anyone. An architect needs clients, but he does not subordinate his work to their wishes. They need him, but they do not order a house just to give him a commission. Men exchange their work by free, mutual consent to mutual advantage when their personal interests agree and they both desire the exchange. If they do not desire it, they are not forced to deal with each other. They seek further. This is the only possible form of relationship between equals. Anything else is a relation of slave to master, or victim to executioner.

“No work is ever done collectively, by a majority decision. Every creative job is achieved under the guidance of a single individual thought. An architect requires a great many men to erect his building. But he does not ask them to vote on his design. They work together by free agreement and each is free in his proper function. An architect uses steel, glass, concrete, produced by others. But the materials remain just so much steel, glass and concrete until he touches them. What he does with them is his individual product and his individual property. This is the only pattern for proper co-operation among men.

“The first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man’s first duty is to himself. His moral law is never to place his prime goal within the persons of others. His moral obligation is to do what he wishes, provided his wish does not depend primarily upon other men. This includes the whole sphere of his creative faculty, his thinking, his work. But it does not include the sphere of the gangster, the altruist and the dictator.

“A man thinks and works alone. A man cannot rob, exploit or rule—alone. Robbery, exploitation and ruling presuppose victims. They imply dependence. They are the province of the second-hander.

“Rulers of men are not egotists. They create nothing. They exist entirely through the persons of others. Their goal is in their subjects, in the activity of enslaving. They are as dependent as the beggar, the social worker and the bandit. The form of dependence does not matter.

“But men were taught to regard second-handers—tyrants, emperors, dictators—as exponents of egotism. By this fraud they were made to destroy the ego, themselves and others. The purpose of the fraud was to destroy the creators. Or to harness them. Which is a synonym.

“From the beginning of history, the two antagonists have stood face to face: the creator and the second-hander. When the first creator invented the wheel, the first second-hander responded. He invented altruism.

“The creator—denied, opposed, persecuted, exploited—went on, moved forward and carried all humanity along on his energy. The second-hander contributed nothing to the process except the impediments. The contest has another name: the individual against the collective.

“The ‘common good’ of a collective—a race, a class, a state—was the claim and justification of every tyranny ever established over men. Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive. Has any act of selfishness ever equaled the carnage perpetrated by disciples of altruism? Does the fault lie in men’s hypocrisy or in the nature of the principle? The most dreadful butchers were the most sincere. They believed in the perfect society reached through the guillotine and the firing squad. Nobody questioned their right to murder since they were murdering for an altruistic purpose. It was accepted that man must be sacrificed for other men. Actors change, but the course of the tragedy remains the same. A humanitarian who starts with declarations of love for mankind and ends with a sea of blood. It goes on and will go on so long as men believe that an action is good if it is unselfish. That permits the altruist to act and forces his victims to bear it. The leaders of collectivist movements ask nothing for themselves. But observe the results.

“The only good which men can do to one another and the only statement of their proper relationship is—Hands off!
(Here and elsewhere, I've highlighted what I feel are important parts of the speech.)
“Now observe the results of a society built on the principle of individualism. This, our country. The noblest country in the history of men. The country of greatest achievement, greatest prosperity, greatest freedom. This country was not based on selfless service, sacrifice, renunciation or any precept of altruism. It was based on a man’s right to the pursuit of happiness. His own happiness. Not anyone else’s. A private, personal, selfish motive. Look at the results. Look into your own conscience.

“It is an ancient conflict. Men have come close to the truth, but it was destroyed each time and one civilization fell after another. Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.

“Now, in our age, collectivism, the rule of the second-hander and second-rater, the ancient monster, has broken loose and is running amuck. It has brought men to a level of intellectual indecency never equaled on earth. It has reached a scale of horror without precedent. It has poisoned every mind. It has swallowed most of Europe. It is engulfing our country.

“I am an architect. I know what is to come by the principle on which it is built. We are approaching a world in which I cannot permit myself to live.

“Now you know why I dynamited Cortlandt. (a low-income apartment complex which he had designed but which was not built the way he designed it.)
“I designed Cortlandt. I gave it to you. I destroyed it.
“I destroyed it because I did not choose to let it exist. It was a double monster. In form and in implication. I had to blast both. The form was mutilated by two second-handers who assumed the right to improve upon that which they had not made and could not equal. They were permitted to do it by the general implication that the altruistic purpose of the building superseded all rights and that I had no claim to stand against it.
“I agreed to design Cortlandt for the purpose of seeing it erected as I designed it and for no other reason. That was the price I set for my work. I was not paid.

“I do not blame Peter Keating. (an inferior architect in whose name Roark designed Cortlandt.) He was helpless. He had a contract with his employers. It was ignored. He had a promise that the structure he offered would be built as designed. The promise was broken. The love of a man for the integrity of his work and his right to preserve it are now considered a vague intangible and an inessential. You have heard the prosecutor say that. Why was the building disfigured? For no reason. Such acts never have any reason, unless it’s the vanity of some second-handers who feel they have a right to anyone’s property, spiritual or material. Who permitted them to do it? No particular man among the dozens in authority. No one cared to permit it or to stop it. No one was responsible. No one can be held to account. Such is the nature of all collective action.

“I did not receive the payment I asked. But the owners of Cortlandt got what they needed from me. They wanted a scheme devised to build a structure as cheaply as possible. They found no one else who could do it to their satisfaction. I could and did. They took the benefit of my work and made me contribute it as a gift. But I am not an altruist. I do not contribute gifts of this nature.

“It is said that I have destroyed the home of the destitute. It is forgotten that but for me the destitute could not have had this particular home. Those who were concerned with the poor had to come to me, who have never been concerned, in order to help the poor. It is believed that the poverty of the future tenants gave them the right to my work. That their need constituted a claim on my life. That it was my duty to contribute anything demanded of me. This is the second-hander’s credo now swallowing the world. 
(I have highlighted the following portion which I feel is the crux of Roark’s position.)
“I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need.
“I wished to come here and say that I am a man who does not exist for others.
“It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.
“I wished to come here and say that the integrity of a man’s creative work is of greater importance than any charitable endeavor. Those of you who do not understand this are the men who’re destroying the world.
“I wished to come here and state my terms. I do not care to exist on any others.
“I recognize no obligations toward men except one: to respect their freedom and to take no part in a slave society.
To my country, I wish to give the ten years which I will spend in jail if my country exists no longer. I will spend them in memory and in gratitude for what my country has been. It will be my act of loyalty, my refusal to live or work in what has taken its place.

“My act of loyalty to every creator who ever lived and was made to suffer by the force responsible for the Cortlandt I dynamited. To every tortured hour of loneliness, denial, frustration, abuse he was made to spend—and to the battles he won. To every creator whose name is known—and to every creator who lived, struggled and perished unrecognized before he could achieve. To every creator who was destroyed in body or in spirit. To Henry Cameron. To Steven Mallory. (an architect and a sculptor who inspired Roark.) To a man who doesn’t want to be named, but who is sitting in this courtroom and knows that I am speaking of him.”
Ayn Rand                                                           Paul Ryan  
And THIS, my friends, what you have just read or heard and seen via U-tube, is what has had a tremendous influence on the thinking of vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan.  This is why he wants tax breaks for the wealthy job creators and why he de-emphasizes altruistic "do-gooder" programs for the unfortunate.  Frederich Hayek, Ayn Rand and the fictional Howard Roark would be very proud of Paul Ryan.  

By choosing Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has selected an "ideologue" whose philosophy will permeate the vacuum where his own philosophy ought to be.  In the words of Howard Roark, "The only good which men can do to one another and the only statement of their proper relationship is -  'Hands off!' "  And further, Roark attributes America's success to  the "private, personal, selfish motives" of individual achievers.

Because of the influence Ayn Rand has had on the thinking of Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican program will be a denial of the words of the prophet Isaiah (feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked) along with the trashing of the intent of the biblical Golden Rule as professed by Jesus, and as for poet John Donne's advice to "ask not for whom the bell tolls . . .  it tolls for you," Roark, Rand and probably Ryan couldn't care a whit about for whomever the bell is tolling. 


                                    John Donne, the Prophet Isaiah and Jesus



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Jack Lippman
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

What's Your Tax Bracket? - A Butterfly Update - The 716 Billion Dollar Lie - and Sid's Plane Flight

At What Rate Are YOU Being Taxed?

Here is a little exercise for you.

1.  Get out your copy of your 2011 tax return and have a calculator handy.

2.  Enter into your calculator the total amount which Uncle Sam wanted you to pay in income taxes, based on your income after you took your deductions and credit for exemptions. This is the called “Total Tax” and it appears on line 61 of your form 1040.

3.  Now push the division key on your calculator. 

4.  Now enter the total amount you paid taxes on, after all deductions and exemptions due you, which you will find on line 43 of form 1040 where it is called “Taxable Income.” 

5.  Now push the percentage sign key (or the equal sign key if you don't have a percentage sign key) on your calculator to see what percentage of your taxable income you paid in taxes. You might want to sit down before you do this. 

Keep that percentage in mind the next time  
Mitt Romney assures you that he always paid his taxes and that they were about 13.6% of his income. or whatever number he mentions that day.
Jack Lippman


Butterfly Corner Report

This year’s floral work in the butterfly garden out in back included the planting of a new Passiflora (Jeanette) to replace the Vida Pura which was pretty, but didn’t support butterfly larva very well, and two Dutchman’s Pipe vines along with some replacement Milkweed plants.  Meanwhile the Calliandra (pink powderpuffs) and Wild Lime have thrived along with the Pentas and Porterweed.  Also, two Plumbagos and a Firebush are growing in a wild manner and are frequented by many butterflies of all varieties.

Innumerable caterpillars have hatched from eggs laid on the Passiflora and the Dutchman’s Pipe, as well as on the Milkweed.  Butterflies spotted in the yard this summer include Gold Trimmed Black Swallowtails, Giant Swallowtails, Zebra Longwings, Gulf Fritillaries, Monarchs, Queens and White Peacocks.  Almost all of them enjoy the White Penta I planted last fall.  There is something doing almost all of the time in the butterfly garden.  Come visit if you are in the neighborhood.

Caterpillar (either Goldtrimmed Polydamus Swallowtail or Pipevine Swallowtail) on Dutchman’s Pipe vine in my yard.


Medicare, Obamacare and Lies  - It's All About  $716,000.000.000!

Over the next decade, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provides for a gradual decrease in the amount needed to fund Medicare, due to reductions in amounts paid to hospitals, nursing homes, physicians and insurance companies.  The purpose of this is to have these recipients of government Medicare money operate more efficiently, getting rid of waste, fraud, inefficiency and duplication without any reduction in the benefits available to those on Medicare.  The amount the government will not have to pay out over the next decade due to this decrease in spending is 716 billion dollars!  This is the law of the land at present.  

Let's look at what can be done with this "freed-up" resource.  Of course, if “Obamacare” is repealed, these built-in spending cuts will not be the law of the land any longer and the government will have to figure on spending, rather than saving, that 716 billion dollars over the next decade because the efficiencies which were to produce them would no longer be the law!  But more about that later.

Basically, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is designed for people who are not on Medicare.  As deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, the law mandates them all to purchase at least minimal health insurance privately so that insurance companies will be able to spread the risk among a large number of healthy and unhealthy insureds, all of whom will then be able to get health insurance regardless of their health at a fair price.   

For those who cannot afford health insurance, and those on Medicaid due to their low income, the government will provide financial support.  The Act provides that the freed-up 716 billion dollars of Medicare savings mentioned above can be used over the next ten years for this purpose.  If that were not the case, such government financial support for purchasing health insurance for those who cannot afford it would require additional revenues in the form of increased taxes of some kind.

The Republicans refer to this as stealing from Medicare to pay for Obamacare.  IF THE SAVINGS WERE BASED ON A REDUCTION IN BENEFITS TO THOSE ON MEDICARE, WHICH THEY ARE NOT, I WOULD AGREE WITH THAT.  BUT AGAIN, LET ME REITERATE THAT THIS IS NOT THE CASE!   The 716 billion dollars will come from reduced payments to Medicare providers who will be compelled to operate more efficiently. 

Using these Medicare savings over the next ten years to subsidize those who cannot afford to purchase the required health insurance on their own will put all Americans in the same boat, and neutralizes a contrast between those already on Medicare and those who are not.  We are all in this together, and that includes the providers.

Certainly, we must make provision for the future funding of Medicare but that has nothing to do with the 716 billion dollar reduction in Medicare spending over the next decade.  Perhaps the entry age will have to be changed and income-based deductibles and co-payments instituted, but that is another question entirely; both parties agree that something has to be done.  Of course, spending cuts due to the greater efficiencies which Obamacare will require of the participating insurers who will be providing coverage, as well of all Medicare providers, will have to be a permanent part of whatever is done.

Republicans are always thrilled when there is a decrease in government spending.  They are elated over that 716 billion dollar savings over the next decade, but reluctant to give President Obama and the Democrats credit for it, so they instead refer these spending cuts as “stealing from Medicare to fund Obamacare.”   The G.O.P. says this in order to appear favorable in the eyes of those gullible seniors whom they can frighten into believing the falsehood that their Medicare benefits will be reduced.  But that is not the case.  For the umpteenth time, let me repeat that Medicare benefits will not be reduced.  The 716 billion dollars will come from efficiencies instituted on the part of insurers and providers.  When Republicans tell you otherwise, remember that what they are saying IS A BIG, BIG LIE !  Medicare benefits will not, I repeat, NOT, be reduced to effect this savings.

Of course, you won’t catch candidates or the party doing the heavy lifting in perpetrating such falsehoods. 
They leave it to the unaccountable SuperPacs brought into prominence by the Citizens United decision.  When you see their ads on television, note the names of the groups sponsoring them. 

If the Republicans, after the November elections, are in a position to repeal Obamacare, the 716 billion dollars in Medicare savings will no longer be the law of the land.  They will not happen. In all probability, however, the G.O.P. will then enact legislation instituting these very same spending cuts so that, under their own label, the same 716 billion dollars in Medicare savings cuts over the next decade will still be there, based on the same more efficient delivery of benefits by providers as is the goal of the current law.  

But with Obamacare repealed, there would be no longer any need for this freed-up money to help provide health insurance coverage to the uninsured.  What other use might be made of it?  Hmmm?

I suspect that the 716 billion dollars would suddenly be available to justify a continuation of the Bush tax cuts and to eliminate  any need to provide additional revenue by raising taxes. Thus the wealthy would have more untaxed resources available for supposed job creation.


That, at least to my way of thinking, is the way Republicans look at it.  I would hope you can see through their curtain of falsehoods.
Jack Lippman


Sid's Corner 

Sid Bolotin

“What time is your flight tomorrow morning, dad?”

 “9:30”, I answered, even though I knew it was actually ten minutes later at 9:40.

And so began our inevitable ritual that always reminds me of the Passover ceremony wherein the youngest child asks the four questions of “why?”.

“What time do you and mom want do get to the airport?”

“Well, you know that I like to get there two hours before takeoff; so get us there at 7:30.”

“Dad, why do you get there so early? Just to sit at the gate for an hour? Remember that you printed your boarding passes on line and just have to drop off your two checked bags. You can get there at 8:00, zip through security in fifteen minutes with no problem, and be at the gate well before the 9:10 boarding time.”

“Al”, I responded with a sigh, “we go through this every time mom and I visit. Rationally you’re right; but it’s a matter of my comfort zone. I’d rather sit longer at the gate than risk a “what if” delay…traffic, security, call of nature, whatever…that could exacerbate my travel angst. You know I hate to travel. Just give me my thirty minutes more of comfort.”

“Okay, okay, dad; but we’ll have to leave before 7:00 to beat the Monday morning traffic out of town rushing to get to work in Boston.”

So, the next morning after I arose at 5:30 to allow time for my yoga stretches, toilette, and breakfast cereal, I was pacing the kitchen at 6:45 eager for my son to load our bags into his wife’s car for Phyllis to zip us to Boston’s Logan Airport…normally a twenty minute jaunt from their home in Swampscott, just north of Boston.

Because Phyllis and my wife, Barbara, were less brisk than I in their timeliness, we didn’t get on the road until 7:10, got snagged in heavy traffic, and didn’t get to Logan until 7:45.

Oh well, I thought, my thirty minute margin was to allow for just this. We’re still okay.

But then our nightmare began as we entered the airport, approached the bag drop off counter, and saw a sea of like-minded travelers in a serpentine queue seven rows wide. With my heart pounding we inched along as I kept watch on the time and wiped my sweating face with paper towels. As we looped round and round, I caught sight of the line forming up to go through security just beyond the check-in counter, and my gut wrenched at its length leading to the actual security area.

After clearing check-in Barb and I schlepped our two carry-on bags over to the security line as fast as my arthritic knees and pounding heart would allow, only to discover that while we were at drop-off, the line had swelled to the length of a basketball court. Exhausted and hurting we positioned ourselves at the end and proceeded to crawl toward the entrance to security. The only encouraging thing was the airport personnel coming along to gather travelers who were in danger of missing their flights.

At about 8:30 we entered the security area to discover another five-row serpentine queue snaking its way slowly toward the scanners…clearly lacking in the number of TSA examiners.

TSA personnel marched along the lines admonishing everyone that the slowness was being caused by us because we were not adhering to the 3-1-1 rule, especially that we were not keeping the plastic bag separate from our carry-on bags. They were enforcing the rule to the letter of the law.

Having travelled many times from Florida to New England to visit our children I had never been reproached for having left my plastic bag with gel, toothpaste, and such in my carry-on. “Why now? Why today?” I wondered aloud to Barb. Then it dawned on me that this could be a deliberate slow-down in response to the just-published newspaper account of possible racial profiling at Logan.

Because I gambled and did not present my plastic bag separately, my carry-on was pulled, and I had to explain each liquid…including medications…to the nice TSA lady. After a second run through the scanner we were cleared to go to the gate. It was 9:15…five minutes after scheduled boarding had begun…and ninety minutes after our daughter-in-law dropped us off.

So much for my son’s zip-through analysis!

Luckily we were leaving from Gate 11…fairly close to security…and we huffed and puffed as quickly as we could, secure in the knowledge that we were checked in, and that take-off was at 9:40.

When we staggered into the gate area, we discovered that boarding had been delayed due to a computer glitch on the plane. Thankful for a chance to recoup my emotional and physical wellness, I sank into a chair with gratitude.

My respite was short-lived when after thirty minutes; they announced that the glitch was not fixable, and that we had to change to another plane at Gate 26. Everyone began to rush to the new gate which was at the other side of the terminal. Barb and I chugged along behind the parade with my knees screaming in vain protest: “Get a wheelchair, macho man!”

Murphy’s Law was in full enactment when we gathered at the new gate because nobody had informed the flight crew to join us at Gate 26; they were still at Gate 11. I had lost track of time and was exhaustedly grateful when the crew, paperwork, and inspection were complete. Pleading medical necessity, I stumbled on with the pre-boarding elite passengers, nestled into my seat, and obtained water from the flight attendant for my meds. Safe at last!

“Oh, oh! Why have they stopped boarding?” I wondered aloud to my wife. The announcement came quickly that the engine cowl had a small crack in it and was being evaluated. An answer would be forthcoming within two hours. Meanwhile we had the option to exit the plane to wait at the gate or stay on the plane and enjoy the refreshments. I chose the latter because I was physically and emotionally drained…orders of magnitude more than my usual angst-filled travel obligations.

Sometime later we were again directed to shift to a third plane that had just landed from Chicago at Gate 32. Off we went again!

As they say, “Third time’s the charm!”

We finally landed at West Palm at 5:30 P.M., about five hours later than our originally scheduled arrival, were picked up by patient friends who had shared our day-long odyssey via cell phone, and then enjoyed our usual on-the-way-home repast at our favorite Greek restaurant.   And Jet Blue gave each of us a $100 travel credit.



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