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Utilitarianism

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Personhood “TBD” 

“To Be Determined,” or the Schrodingder’s cat* version of human rights.

Does the possession of inalienable human rights depend on unknown future facts? Can the moral worth of a human being be determined by the actions of another human being – or by fate, the available and utilized medical technology?

Sherif Girgis discusses the theory of Princeton philosopher, Elizabeth Harman, in today’s Public Discourse. The professor’s view that abortion is – or may be – a neutral act has been the subject of discussion since she appeared in the YouTube video, Philosophy Time, produced by actor James Franco and Eliot Michaelson.

Besides the obvious problems pointed out by Girgis of defining “consciousness” and the TBD “kind” of a human fetus, there are other problems.

First, any concept of “inalienable” human rights would need to be discarded. There goes the Declaration of Independence and the basis of the United States Constitution.

In addition, Professor Harman’s theory would presumably allow the use of bodies of the human species for the benefit of humans with “moral worth,” as long as those bodies are never allowed to become conscious. This is the current practice of researchers using embryos, including those created for the purpose of manipulation and destruction.

But there’s nothing in this philosophy to prevent the intentional manipulation of a human body for research or to benefit others, as long as the body is never allowed to develop consciousness. Continual sedation or mutilation of the brain from the beginning – before consciousness – would prevent the development or acquisition of moral worth and rights.

In the process, “human” rights would cease to exist. The actions of others, laws and location and the potential use of technology would finally determine who is human enough to possess the right not to be killed. (Forget the right not to be “enslaved.”

What happens if (as Girgis proposes) the abortion itself is aborted or fails? Or if the brain isn’t damaged sufficiently to prevent consciousness?

Forget about opening the box: don’t put humans in there in the first place.

*I saw this analogy on a Facebook thread, but thought the same thought before I stole it.

Edited to correct my misspelling of Dr. Harman’s name.

Autonomy and aiding self-harm

​It’s very rarely good medicine to encourage a symptom of disease, especially one that leads to harm. I don’t help raise a patient’s temperature when they have a fever. I treat the infection and to keep the temperature from going up to dangerous levels.
In every case of cutting and self harm that I saw in my practice, the several girls and one boy had already been the victim of sexual abuse and were also abusing alcohol or drugs. The cutting was a symptom of depression, post-traumatic stress and the victimization that started the cascade.

And yet, the Journal of Medical Ethics has published an article arguing that since cutters are going to cut, doctors should aide them by providing sterile knives or razors. 

The Journal  is actually a forum for public arguments on controversial topics in bioethics, rather than a policy manual or review of facts and best practices. However, far too often the subjects are treated with respect and support those same controversial ideas. 

The online bioethics newsletter, Mercatornet, disputes this normalization of pathology and outlines the history of support and opposition to the concept of “safe” self harm.

Indeed, the argument for limiting harm is often given as the reason for elective abortion, physician assisted death and other forms of euthanasia.

Please, apply the suicide or cutting to illegal drug use. Does the rationale follow through? If a person is only happy after heroin, should we assist him by allowing and providing a cleaner, more pure product – as well as the needles so many State laws have made possible?

Cook sarcastically sums up with an imaginary Tweet:

“Bioethics is broken. Doctors respecting patients who make really BAD decisions. All because of AUTONOMY. DUMB!!! Back to human dignity!!!” 

I have long described Bioethics as “the formal study of who we can kill.” Now, we can add, “and aid in harming.”

Not-Libertarian Town Hall

Watched the John Stossel “Libertarian Town Hall” from August 26th on YouTube.   I believe I will “discriminate” against these two. Johnson and Weld don’t seem to understand the basic tenets of either the Libertarian Party or their former Republican Party. They have moved far to the Left and openly  advocate force against anyone who works in the public

Basic Ethics: It’s not aggression ( or harmful “discrimination”)  to refuse service – to refuse to act. In direct contrast to the statements made by these two, religious freedom is not restricted to “the church” or within the church worship service. Integrity requires that people practice their religion in all aspects of our lives. And, business regulation cannot legitimately be used to enslave by forcing future labor or giving the government the power to allocate private property.

Both men argued that the government may force a Christian baker to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Johnson repeatedly refused to answer Stossel’s question about the Muslim delivery owner being forced to sell pork. Such simple question!


Johnson tried to make a distinction between selling a cake and decorating the cake, calling the latter a matter of free speech. The point is that the right to liberty is an inalienable right which gives rise to religious and speech liberties.

In the cases that have been brought against bakers who won’t sell cakes, the cakes have been *wedding* cakes which are, indeed, decorated. Those cakes would have been the result of future labor, and made to order, not cakes already baked, waiting in a display shelf. 


In order to justify Federal interference, Weld said of one program, “The proof is in the pudding.” In other words, the ends justify the means. No, in an ethical world, illicit means are illicit, even if they work.

The bottom line is that neither Gary Johnson nor Bill Weld displayed an understanding of ethics, or the rationale behind Libertarian or Republican policies. 



Human rights for this class of persons?

How human is human enough for human rights?

Justice Taney on slavery, in the ruling on the Dred Scott case:
“”

The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement [people of Aftican ancestry] compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them. “

Nevertheless,  today’s Supreme Court hearing didn’t deal with the question of whether the zygote/embryo /fetus is human enough. It dealt with the regulations for abortion businesses and the doctors who work for them. These are essentially the same rules imposed on Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers.

Doctors must offer continuing care and the buildings should allow safe egress and sanitary standards of care.  The challenge is against State protections for the women who have chosen abortion.

Posted from WordPress for Android. Typos will be corrected!

News: “U.K. Scientists Given Green Light To Edit Human Embryos” | IFLScience

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/uk-scientists-given-green-light-edit-human-embryos

Cute. We’re assured that it’s still illegal to implant these “edited,” engineered embryos – but until now, it wasn’t legal to edit them! See the pattern?

The experiments are only supposed to only  use “surplus” embryos conceived by in vitro fertilization. Next will come the argument that embryos should by designed “from scratch” as a couple’s right (or group marriage partner’s rights.

The only embryos that will be helped as a result of this line of experimentation wold be extracorporeal embryos that are to be edited, themselves! Job security for the experimenters, perhaps.

We can be sure implantation will happen, moving closer to “designer babies.” Lots of science fiction has often dealt with the good and bad, the intended and unintended consequences of “editing” the humans or transhumans we conceive.

The unintended consequences can’t be known, but we can know that they will occur. And yet, that child of tomorrow can’t consent, his or her contemporaries can’t consent and their off spring certainly can’t consent.

The nascent  human once again unquestionably becomes the means to another’s end, rather than an end in himself.

Yes, someone will point out that  many or even most parents may have children for their own purposes other than to truly become one with their spouse or to reproduce and pass on their genes. The mere fact that anyone can contemplate “spare” or “excess” human beings is proof of that. (And don’t forget the “unwanted” child the abortion advocates constantly remind us of.)

Will there be a money-back guarantee for the “failed” comodified child?  Will those future generations think better of us than we regard past efforts at breeding a better human? Let’s hope that if we live among them, they tolerate us!

Death, lies and video

Death, lies and video

Supported only by his imagination, what he saw in videos produced by Texas Right to Life lawyers, and a news article,Dr. Phillip Hawley, Jr., M.D., wrote “A Tragic Case of Modern Bioethics; Denying Life-Sustaining Treatment to a Patient Who Wanted to Live” about the truly tragic, but inevitable death of Chris Dunn. Hawley erred by pretending to read the minds of doctors and hospital representatives and calling complete strangers “utilitarian” “murderers.” Before discussing the ethics of his accusations, it’s necessary to explain the meaning of the documented facts, available in news sources, blog posts and court records:

  1. Dunn was not “alert and cognizant” as he had documented delirium secondary to hepatic encephalopathy and over a month on the ventilator with sedation and pain meds
  2.  The hospital voluntarily, without a court judgement, promised to continue life-sustaining treatments in place until the legal guardianship question was settled.
  3.  Food and water, legally termed as “Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration” or AANH and including total parenteral nutrition, cannot be removed against the objection of patients or surrogates, under Texas law.
  4. The doctors stated that they believed the “life-sustaining treatments,” were causing suffering.
  5. The hospital never sought guardianship for themselves, only for “a qualified family member,” and listed their names and locations in the original petition.

It is very unlikely that Chris understood his condition, the questions the lawyers were asking or the consequences of his “prayer.” That he was unable to make medical decisions is supported by the fact that his parents had been making his medical decisions. The Harris County judge agreed with the hospital’s request that a single legal guardian be named by a separate court.
“Life-sustaining treatment,” “medically inappropriate” and “Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration” are legal terms defined in the Texas Advance Directive Act (TADA), which outlines the exact procedure and language for communications between doctors, the hospital committee, and patients or their surrogates. The use, monitoring and adjustment of a mechanical ventilator is in the definition of “life-sustaining treatments.” TADA specifically excludes “Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration” (AANH) in the definition of “life sustaining treatments,” which would argue against the accusation that his doctors planned to withdraw “food and water.”
The only legal reason under TADA to remove any “life-sustaining treatment” is that it is deemed “medically inappropriate” by the attending physician and then only if the hospital medical or ethics committee “affirms” that decision. If and when they are withheld, the Act specifically prohibits “mercy killing” or otherwise intentionally intervening with the intent to cause death by artificial means.
Additional demands by Chris’ mother, Mrs. Kelly, and the lawyers in blogs and news articles would have also fallen under the legal definition of “life-sustaining treatment.” These demands included a biopsy in order to determine a definitive tissue diagnosis for the clinically apparent pancreatic cancer and liver lesions, a surgical tracheostomy and the removal of the ventilator (to be fair, I believe they meant the tube through the vocal chords), less sedation, searches for and trials of treatment of the cancer, and the non-standard use of an indwelling drain for the ascites (large exudates in the abdomen due to high pressures in the liver and the failure of the liver to make necessary proteins). These are invasive, potentially painful and, based on the reported size and effects of the mass, the extent of liver damage visibly evident in the videos as temporal wasting and copper-colored skin, ascites and the GI bleeding – they were very unlikely to lengthen his life, much less cure his cancer. In fact they could be very likely to hasten – or be the immediate cause of – his death.
Chris died in the ICU on full life-sustaining treatments, including the ventilator and intravenous AANH.
The doctors are on record as basing their decision on the suffering caused by the treatments to their patient, Chris. This is consistent with the known side-effects of the ventilator and even reports from Chris’ mother, who told reporters that Chris suffered from the treatments and fluid building up in his lungs despite the ventilator. And yet, Dr. Hawley made sensational statements such as:

“For patients with terminal illnesses, this standard often leads to the utilitarian question: Is the patient’s life still worth living?
“In Chris Dunn’s case, the committee’s answer was “no.” Relative strangers with little or no knowledge of his values and beliefs weighed his “quality of life” and decided that he no longer deserved to live.”
And,
“. . . How did these committee members who had only recently met the patient—if they ever met him at all—know that it was in his best interest for them to end his life?”
And,
“. . . But, somehow, we are to believe that these committee members were able to deduce existential truths about what was in Chris Dunn’s best interest?”

The physicians who cared for Mr. Dunn for over a month had certainly met him and members of the Methodist Hospital Biomedical Ethics Committee met with the family several times. Court documents are clear that the doctors believed the life-sustaining treatments were causing suffering and that the committee agreed that the treatments were medically inappropriate. There certainly is no evidence that the doctors or the committee members sought to intentionally “end” Chris’ life. “Medically inappropriate treatment” is not an “existential truth” and never in the patient’s best interest.
(Some may remind us that suffering can have benefits. However, Mr. Dunn couldn’t consent to suffering, much less benefit from the suffering, whether as a medical treatment or a willing religious self-sacrifice.)

Robert P. George is one of my heroes a conservative tenured professor of law and ethics at Princeton and one of the founders of the Witherspoon Institute, an organization known for its defense of Judeo-Christian ethics based on natural law, and the parent organization of Public Discourse. He has helpfully outlined a “key” to evaluate the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining care:

“[T]he key is the distinction between what traditionally has been called “direct killing,” where death (one’s own or someone else’s) is sought either as an end in itself or as a means to some other end, and accepting death or the shortening of life as a foreseen side effect of an action or omission whose object is something other than death—either some good that cannot be achieved or some evil that cannot be avoided without resulting in death or the shortening of life.”

George and Hawley each point to a value in medicine that is higher than autonomy or even preserving life at all costs: the duty of physicians to care for the patient. “Cure when possible, but first, do no harm.”
The lawyers didn’t just sue to maintain “life-sustaining treatments,” or even Mrs. Kelly’s right to force the doctors to treat Chris the way she wanted them to. The lawsuit, blog posts and public statements document the ultimate goal to have TADA declared unconstitutional and to force all doctors to give patients and surrogates the right to demand any and all desired treatment indefinitely. The power of State courts, law enforcement and licensing would be used to force Texas doctors to carry out acts against our medical judgment, education, experience and conscience.
What justification can the lawyers and Dr. Hawley give for not believing the physicians who care for patients daily and hourly when those caretakers document that the patient is suffering?

What kind of physicians will we end up with if the State can force us to act without judgement or conscience?

What kind of State would we have?

Based on a video and his imagined conversations between “malevolent” and “utilitarian” doctors and hospitals, Hawley declares Texas a “morally impoverished society.” Ignoring sworn statements from the physicians and misrepresenting TADA, he distorts the purpose of the Texas Advance Directive Act, which is to address the problems encountered when patients and surrogates disagree., Only by assuming evil intent is he able to force doctors to prove a negative and distract from any possibility of a conflict between the equal and inalienable rights of the patient and the doctor.

While the video of Chris apparently praying to be allowed to live wrenched at our emotions, it was used to tell a false story upon which Dr. Hawley built his harmful assumptions. We would all do well to remember my Mama’s advice: Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.”

Edited for grammar and decrease wordiness and formatting (1-15-16). BBN

Chritianity is self-sacrifice, not killing others

The Colorado policeman who was killed Friday, Garrett Swasey, is the Christian, pro-life man we should all be talking about.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

On the blog, Cripple Gate, Jonathan Standbridge has posted excerpts from officer Swasey’s last sermon. Mr. Standbridge notes that one of the tenants of the church where Swasey was an elder, is to oppose elective abortion as the taking of human life.

And yet, Officer Swasey put his life in danger for, and died as a result of, an attempt to protect the occupants of that Planned Parenthood business!

The frequent justification for elective abortion is utilitarian: we are told that in the interest of the greater good, the mother must sacrifice her unborn child in order to have a better life. Officer Swasey, in contrast,  sacrificed himself for the lives of others.

There should be no more talk about pro-life “zealots,” “killers,” or “haters.” Instead, remember Garrett Swasey and how he served Christ and even the people of Colorado Springs with whom he disagreed on abortion.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:6-8

“Duty” to use human tissue?

Robbins smoking fetal researchWe should at least have as much care for the donation of tissue from aborted human fetuses and embryos as we do for the donation of organs from those killed by capital punishment. Both scenarios involve purposeful intervention to cause death and the collection of tissues, at least, must be carried out by licensed and regulated medical personnel.

Robin Alta Charo (a law and ethics professor at the University of Wisconsin) has an opinion piece in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, “Fetal Tissue Fallout.” in which she claims that society has a “duty” to use tissues harvested after elective, intentional abortions.

I object to the idea that society has a “duty” to make use of the end products of either procedure. Both scenarios involve purposeful intervention to cause death by licensed and regulated medical personnel, making those of us who vote for the legislators who write laws complicit in the actions, at least remotely. Under a strict philosophy of ethics based on the protection of inalienable rights, each act should be weighed individually and should only be carried out when the one killed is a proven danger to the life or lives of others.

Robin justifies her elevation of the use of fetal tissues after elective abortion to that of a “duty” by citing past benefits of research using fetal tissues. She is more political and names past Republican supporters in an earlier op-ed, published in the Washington Post on August 4th.

Yes, society has benefited from these tissues.  However,  that picture at the side of this post depicts Dr. Frederick Robbins, one of the scientists who utilized fetal tissue in the 1950’s development of the Salk polio vaccine. Dr. Robbins is depicted smoking at work in the laboratory, while handling test tubes without gloves. We know better than that, now.  Isn’t it time that science and medicine researchers catch up with our knowledge that the human fetus is a human being from the moment of fertilization?

Where are the Ethics Review Boards that monitor for the unethical behavior we’re hearing about in the videos from the Center for Medical Progress?

In 2013, the science journal, Nature, published an article covering the history and evolution of informed consent and compensation for donors of human tissues, including the fetal tissue culture, WI-28.  Ms. Charo was quoted as supporting monetary compensation:

But, says Charo, “if we continue to debate it entirely in legal terms, it feels like we’re missing the emotional centre of the story”. It could be argued, she says, “that if somebody else is making a fortune off of this, they ought to share the wealth. It’s not a legal judgment. It’s a judgement about morality.”

Yes, “It’s not a legal judgment. It’s a judgement about morality.”

Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”

Okay, hunker down in the bunkers, y’all.

Atlas ShruggedThere is truth to be found in the multi-page soliloquies in Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s opus that has won over readers in generation after generation. John Galt’s philosophy appeals to individualists and is rooted in classic liberalism that we now call libertarian or conservative.

But where Rand excelled was as an excellent observer of statism and socialism, as well as faithfully reporting the justification made by the proponents of each. Since reading Atlas Shrugged in the mid-1990’s, I’ve heard and read adults make the very claims that some of Rand’s characters make about the duty of producers and employers and the “rights” of the people who want benefits without obligations and who are willing to use the  power of guilt, class warfare and greed to control both.

However, Rand’s objectivist libertarian philosophy goes too far. She was anti-religious, anti-altruistpro-abortion and left her husband in order to live with a much younger man who was also married. In fact, her portrayals of relationships between men and women too often resemble warped rape and dominance games. Her earlier book, The Fountainhead, includes a controversial scene that Rand is said to have described as, “If it was rape, it was rape with an engraved invitation.  Fifty Shades of Gray from the ’50’s?) The fact that John Galt would hide away with fellow rich, intelligent and successful elites in a remote enclave and allow the rest of society to self-destruct is selfish and impractical.  (Rand herself certainly didn’t attempt to “go Galt.”)

If you want to understand today’s political debate, I believe you must read  Atlas Shrugged. The beginning is online, here.

“How Government Killed the Medical Profession”

Contrast the Hippocratic ethic in which a physician recommends treatment to his patient, based on his best medical judgement in the patient’s interest, with that of the “veterinary ethic,” where decisions are made by the “payor” — or owner. Now, consider the effect of Government regulations which arbitrarily force doctors to learn protocols and guidelines (rather than adjust to the patient’s course of illness), to fit a patient’s illness into International Clinical Diagnoses (out to the nth decimal place) and which withhold payment when a patient becomes ill enough to need readmission to the hospital within 30 days of the last admission.

In an article published online by Cato, Dr. Jeffery Singer lays out the history of the destruction of Medicine as  a profession. In the past, Dr. Singer described the ethical transition toward the “veterinary ethic.”

Each of these articles is worth your time and consideration. The first article gives one of the best explanations of the Government move to “coding” of medical diagnoses in exchange for payment “reimbursement,” on through the forced move to Electronic Medical Records without evidence that patients will benefit and Accountable Care Organizations which assign patients to employee “providers.” The second, earlier article, reviewed the necessary change in medical ethics to allow doctors to practice without – or in contradiction to – their conscience.

Forget patient autonomy, long elevated by the lawmakers, lawyers and  Ph.D’s (in the name of “Bioethics”) above the traditional physician Hippocratic values of beneficence and its foundation, non-maleficence. In the world of Government medicine, your life is in the hands of the “payor:” the Golden Rule of “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

 

 

 

NEJM admits “ObamaCare” isn’t “Affordable” without subsidies

The New England Journal of Medicine has some free articles you might want to read this week. (I’m afraid you will have to register – will you let me know if you do?)
The first asserts that we’re stuck with ObamaCare – but it calls ObamaCare, “ObamaCare.” The author, Jonathan Oberlander, Ph.D, also acknowledges that the only way the ACA (the Affordable Care Act) is “Affordable” is if the Federal government hands out cash subsidies. In fact, if the Supreme Court rules that the language of the law forbids subsidies in States that don’t have their own exchanges,

Here’s an excerpt:
“The calendar cannot be turned back to 2009. The ACA has made some irreversible changes in U.S. health care.

“Even if they have unified control of the federal government in 2017, Republicans will confront the reality that Obamacare has redefined U.S. health policy and the terms of the debate. In practice, future repeal legislation would probably not scrap the whole ACA, but rather remove specific provisions and remake other policies to conform to a more conservative vision. A Republican President could, through waivers and other means, undermine Obamacare in important ways, but he or she could not eliminate it.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case (King v. Burwell) challenging the legality of providing premium subsidies in federal exchanges is crucial to the GOP precisely because the chances for legislative repeal of Obamacare are so remote. The Court can seriously damage the ACA in a way that congressional Republicans cannot. A decision to prohibit subsidies for helping the uninsured to purchase coverage in the 34 states that have federally run exchanges would destabilize the health insurance marketplaces and unravel the individual and employer mandates in those states, exacerbating the already large disparities in insurance coverage among states. It would cause both a sizable increase in the uninsured population and sizable losses for the insurance industry and medical care providers as millions of Americans lost their health coverage.  Such a ruling could, in turn, produce enormous pressures on affected states and Congress to adopt measures to stave off those outcomes. Yet the ACA’s shaky political foundations would complicate policymakers’ responses, and Obamacare’s opponents would be emboldened to resist any fixes. A ruling against federal subsidies could have a spillover effect, dampening the chances for Medicaid expansion in some states. (Emphasis mine)

 

The ACA appears to be on track to destroy the financing of health care in our country, whether or not it is fully implemented.

 

Marriage of three women

Down the slippery slope, we have a “throuple,” a three-woman marriage, performed in Massachusetts in August of last year. One of the women is now expecting a baby.

All men and women may take advantage of the “benefit’ of marriage. However, it required a redefinition of marriage for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman. Such a redefinition was never required to allow the black man and woman to drink from the water fountain or for a black man  to marry a white woman or a black woman to marry a white man.

Once the redefinition began, what is there to stop anyone from making their own meaning?

I agree that freedom and the recognition of rights means that I will live among people who don’t agree with me. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for over forty years; I know that reality very well! However, I don’t have to sit quietly while throuples and others change laws to force me to involuntarily subsidize their choices. It is the duty of the ones desiring change to prove it beneficial or harmless *prior* to the change. Instead, we saw illegal acts by the mayors of San Francisco and other cities, lawsuit after lawsuit, after lawsuit . . . And suddenly: “it’s the law of the land!”

Edited – Added that last paragraph – BBN

 

Who’s really gone crazy?

“Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Sen. Paul said in an interview with the New York Times this week. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.”

via Rand Paul sounds off on voter ID: Will it help the GOP with black voters? (+video) – CSMonitor.com.

Our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The First Amendment protects political speech, which includes donating what we want, when we want, and to whom we want.

The Supreme Court today did not get rid of the individual candidate limit with the ruling, only the limits on overall donations to multiple candidates. You still can’t give more than $5200 per campaign cycle to any one candidate for Federal office.

Like the signers of the Declaration of Independence, we may pledge our fortunes to political candidates – within limits.

 

Taking vs. Redistribution

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”  Alex De Tocqueville

A March 27th Op-ed in the San Antonio Express News by Nicholas Kristof calls us a “Nation of Takers,” claiming that the US government gives welfare to the wealthy with mortgage tax “subsidies” for the wealthy and lower capital gains taxes as opposed to earned income taxes.

Forget that Kristof doesn’t understand the difference between taxes – where the government takes from some – and subsidies – where the government gives tax money to the benefactors the government selects. Taxes take, subsidies and benefits give.

Kristof assumes that all money is the government’s to tax, rather than the property of individuals who have the unalienable right to earn and accumulate what they earn to provide for themselves, their dependents, and for the future when they are unable to earn. The money doesn’t belong to even the most utilitarian – or Utilitarian* – government plan for its use.

Those capital gains taxes are on money already taxed and invested for a certain period of time. If you want to encourage investment, don’t tax it. If you want to encourage hoarding on the other hand . . .
As to those yachts and beach homes – people who don’t use these dwellings as their actual homes can’t claim the mortgage deduction. In any case, thanks to the effects of the alternate minimum tax, the wealthy don’t receive any mortgage tax deduction.

*Utilitarian good is the idea that government should rule “for the greatest good.” We end up with the biggest gun, the most charismatic leader or the majority voting — and eventually, “might makes right.”

 “I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you’ve earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.” – Thomas Sowell

Food Stamp Enrollment Growth (with Interactive Map)

If Federal Food Stamps Map WSJIf the Federal government increases spending and decreases limits, is it surprising that people take advantage of it?

If you’re concerned about the news that the Federal food stamp program funding will be cut 5%, take a look at this map from the June, 2013 Wall Street Journal, showing the percentage of population in each state which receives Federal food stamps.

It is accompanied by a graph of growth of food stamp enrollment depicting periods of enrollment. Food stamp growthThat bright red line is Texas’ growth, which is nearly parallel with the US average, shown as a grey-green line. (Take a look at the annual spikes of Alaska’s enrollment, which I guess is due to the disbursement of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend.)

But take a look at the growth since the “Stimulus” was passed by the Dem-controlled House and Senate, nearly doubling funds for food stamps and increasing the number of recipients from 28 million to 48 million.Food stamp growth 2008 2012Since the increase in enrollment has been over 70%, that 5% cut in payments will not bring the spending levels back to pre-recession levels. Wouldn’t it make sense to tighten up on the eligibility requirements, rather than make an across-the-board cut?

 

Texas abortion clinic not safe

Who’s surprised that the abortionists aren’t concerned about sterile instruments, monitoring patients’ heart rates or keeping up with their life saving skills or equipment? They’re not in the business of saving life. They kill.

The October 3 inspection at Whole Woman\’s Health of Beaumont turned up potential health issues.

The report says the facility failed to provide a safe environment for patients and staff. The suction machines which were used on patients had numerous rusty spots which, \”had the likelihood to cause infection.\”

The report also says, \”the facility failed to have the EKG monitoring equipment ready if an emergency situation occurred…\”

Fatima Gifford, the spokeswoman for Whole Woman\’s Health, said Tuesday that at this time, the clinic did not have a comment

via Inspection of Beaumont abortion clinic raises health concerns – 12 News KBMT and K-JAC.

At least this news organization reported on the local facility. You won’t find much coverage, even among the “journalists” who are all over the lawsuit news.

From LifeSite News, here’s the rest of the story:

Whole Women’s Health facilities all over Texas failed inspections for the last two years, time and again. There were holes in the cabinets, rust on machines used during the procedures, and the staff didn’t know the proper method of sterilization or checking that supposedly sterile tools actually are sterilized in the autoclave. Where they were found to be lacking last year, they made no changes, no improvements.

Their focus and skills lie in taking life, not preserving or saving it.

 

PolitiFact Texas Defends – and Interprets – Davis On Abortion

If I were being exceptionally kind, I’d interpret Texas Democratic Governor candidate (and portable urinary catheter user) Wendy Davis’ position on abortion restrictions as, “Whatever the Supreme Court rules is good enough for me.”  When not so generous, I’d say she’s not answering the question.

What Wendy Davis said,

 “Davis, while addressing the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2013, was asked, “Could you discuss what legal limits on abortion you do support?”

She replied, “You know, the Supreme Court has made that decision. And it’s one of the protected liberties under our Constitution. And I respect the constitutional protections that are in place today.”

.”

Politifact’s interpretation:

 

So in her response in Washington, Davis signaled that she both accepts letting states limit abortions after the first trimester and limit or ban abortions after fetuses are viable, unless the mother’s life is at risk.

via PolitiFact Texas | Davis opposes late-term abortions, with certain exceptions.

How refreshing it would be if one of the “fact-checkers” actually asked the hard questions of a pro-abortion Dem!

Obama Stumbles Despite Friendly Press « Commentary Magazine

After explaining his “history,” of posturing and hiding unpopular legislation by attaching it to another Bill, President Obama truly stumbles:

“And you know, we don’t get to select which programs we implement or not.”

via Obama Stumbles Despite Friendly Press « Commentary Magazine.

Iguess it depends on the meaning of “select,” because as the article notes,

“Obama chooses which parts of which laws he wants to implement and enforce at will, as if Congress were a supercommittee brainstorming ideas rather than a coequal branch passing laws . . “

NEJM “I want” ethics

In the Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis notes that, “When all that says ‘it is good’ has been debunked, what says ‘I want’ remains.”

Last week, the New England Journal of Medicine published a “Perspectives” column, “Life or Death for the Dead Donor’s Rule?,” in which the authors  illustrate Lewis’ point with their redefinition of non-maleficence to better serve a re-defined autonomy.

They would convince us that there is no harm in hastening the death of a dying patient even by intentionally causing it if he or his surrogates ask. They ignore a 2500 year old First Principle of Medical ethics,focused on the health of the patient in front of us: “Cure when possible, but first do no harm, ”

Autonomy, like all rights, is a negative right: the patient has the right to refuse invasive medical interventions that will harm him or that he does not want. Patients and surrogates, if they can compel the use of medical skills and invasive technology, can only do so for the medical benefit of the patient himself.

Illogically, in these times of reducing costs, the authors would have us consider taking a patient from the ICU to the OR “and then take him back to where life support would be withdrawn.” The return to the ICU is nothing but our own “medical charade.”

 

The Abolition of Man can be read online, here, or you can buy the Kindle version at Amazon.com.

I want to thank Nancy Valko, who runs an email list covering a range of traditional ethics issues, her email alerting me to this editorial.

Study: 20,000 a Year Will Go Without Abortions Due to Texas Law

Texans paid for this study by the University of Texas College of Liberal Arts, Texas Policy Evaluation Project, founded to “evaluate” the effect of the 2011 State budget cuts on Family Planning, ignoring the deep cuts on everything else the State funded. (Speaking of ignoring: the website hasn’t updated the information on Family Planning since the 2013 Legislature added over $200 Million dollars to the program.)

Tx-PEP, as they call themselves, got some publicity on a San Antonio radio station, WOAI, today, complaining that women will have to “go without” elective abortions.

A pro choice activist group says the strict new abortion restrictions which were approved by the Texas Legislature in July will result in more than 22,000 Texas women per year being unable to undergo an abortion, 1200 WOAI news reports.

“Women particularly in rural areas and outside of cities who want to terminate a pregnancy, will have no recourse because there will be no late term providers left,” Jody Jacobsen of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, told 1200 WOAI news.

Elective abortions are “elective.” These are not abortions to save the life of the mother. They are abortions due to “choice.”

Of course, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project doesn’t admit that none of the current abortionists are in rural areas. In other words, anyone seeking an elective abortion today must go to a big city and may be inconvenienced.

Forget any pretense at impartiality:

  The laws do not cover women who are less than twenty weeks gestation, and abortions will still be available to them.

  But Jacobsen says it’s all a matter of personal freedom.

  “Who is Rick Perry to tell me what decisions I should or should not have made, or what any other woman should or should not have made,” she said.

“Choosing Wisely: Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question”

Bookmark this page: “Choosing Wisely: Lists.”

Whether you are seeing your doctor for a cold, a routine physical or a “new patient visit,” or when you suspect that he’s offering you the famous notorious “blue pill or red pill,” how do you as a layman know whether a medical test or procedure is needed? Will it lead to a treatment decision or just more tests? Does it help? Or does it actually cause harm?

Or politically, will ObamaCare cost cuts and rationing deny you a procedure, test, or treatment that would be helpful?

The American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation asked the various physician sub-specialty organizations in the US to list tests, treatments and procedures that don’t help or might actually hurt patients. The lists are published on the “Choosing Wisely” website.

Remember, there’s a difference between screening tests that look for something you might have, and diagnostic tests to explain a symptom from your history or chief complaint, a finding on an exam or to determine whether a treatment is working or harming. And there’s certainly a difference between starting a treatment, doing a procedure or ordering a test that leads to more risk than the disease or condition we’re treating just because . . . of money, out-of-date knowledge, or patient desire. Or because we can.

Whatever health care problem or concern you have, take a look at the list from the medical specialty for the pertinent body part or organ system. Which tests and procedure do you need, and which have you had that are on these lists?

I don’t quite agree with all the items on all the lists. After all, patient care is not a recipe from a given cookbook – and besides, patients’ bodies can’t read the books to follow the recipes.

Let’s talk! Ask me questions and/or let me translate the jargon.

Texas or DC: Who do you want regulating your doctor?

Peggy Fikac once again proves that she’s not a reporter, and most certainly not anything like a fair and balanced media representative.

From the Houston Chronicle’s coverage of events in Austin, today:

“Obamacare is the wrong prescription for American health care, and I will never stop fighting against it,” Abbott said, joined by small business people and a doctor who also oppose the law at a company, the Texas Mailhouse.

One reason that Abbott gave for fighting the law came in response to a doctor who asked him from the audience about what Texas could do to keep the federal law from interfering with doctors’ judgment about the best way to treat their patients.

“You’re raising one of the more challenging components of Obamacare, and a hidden component in a way, and that is government is stepping in between the doctor-patient relationship and trying to tell you what you can and cannot do, interfering with both your conscience and your medical oath to take care of your patient,” said Abbott, who is campaigning to succeed Gov. Rick Perry.

That is similar to arguments raised against tighter abortion restrictions approved in special session, including a ban on the procedure at 20 weeks, along with stricter regulations on clinics and abortion-inducing drugs.

 

I am that doctor from the audience. Ms. Fikac is correct that I voiced concern over the Federal interference between the patient and the doctor. She’s flat wrong about Texas regulation of medicine by bring abortionists up to standards being equivalent to the

I prefaced the question by noting that it is the State of Texas that properly regulates Texas Doctors and medicine. At the State level, patients and doctors have more influence on our elected officials and the people they appoint to write regulations and enforce the law than we do on the Federal level.

I also noted that because of the increasing interference over the years by Medicare, I am concerned about the reach that this new set of regulations will have, including ever-invasive micro-reporting of patient’s private medical conditions. (I named the upcoming move to the ICD-10, which will be a nightmare, requiring doctors to make distinctions between medical conditions, out to five (5) decimal places.

As bad as the bureaucracy of the Office of the Inspector General for the Federal Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been in the past, I don’t look forward to the additional layer of IRS income verification, audits and enforcement.

We could stick closer to home, with the Texas Health and Human Services, the Texas Medical Board, and the Texas Insurance Commission!

Freedom2Care: Now Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid

Conscience? More “Trust me, I’ll violate my conscience” news:

Tolerance. Diversity. Broad-mindedness. Those are the words.

Bullying. Discriminating. Compelling. Those are the deeds.

The contradictory words and deeds often come from one and the same individuals–and in a case I learned about today, companies. Turns out the words of tolerance, diversity and broad-mindedness only apply to those who comply with the dogma and submit to the will of the speakers.

Here’s an email I received this morning from a pharmacist member of the Christian Medical Association:

“Subject: Forced to resign over mandate to sell the morning after pill.

“Just to let you know that Rite-Aid corporation came out with a stricter policy on July 5, 2013 that requires all employees to accommodate the sale of the morning-after pill to all comers, of either gender and of any age.”

Read more via Freedom2Care: Now Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid.

While I don’t believe that Plan B is an abortifacient, I do believe it’s a powerful drug and that adolescents shouldn’t be able to buy it over the counter. I also find it hard to trust someone who will agree to go against their conscience!

Texas Still Fighting Funding to Planned Parenthood!

In spite of repetitive fraud, in spite of Texas’ laws prohibiting sending money to affiliates of abortionists, in spite of all our work.

Planned Parenthood clinics could be facing a legal fight that could keep them from receiving funding for impoverished Medicaid patients.

When the state passed the Women’s Health Program in 2005, legislators said the intent was to provide more family planning services, but not abortions, to low-income Medicaid patients.

State Sen. Bob Deuell said due to a loophole in the law, Planned Parenthood is part of the program, but thinks they shouldn’t be. As such, he has requested the attorney general clear up the matter.

*****

While Sen. Deuell admits he isn’t in favor of Planned Parenthood, he said his “goal is to provide comprehensive care and — abortion issue aside — the Planned Parenthood clinics don’t provide comprehensive care.”

It could take Attorney General Greg Abbott months to give his opinion.

In a brief HHSC officials sent to Abbott, they told him if the agency limits providers based on the way the law currently reads, the state risks violating Medicaid rules. State health officials said that could result in a loss of federal funding for the program.

via AG to rule on Planned Parenthood funding question – YNN – Your News Now.

Texas Planned Parenthood pays $4.3M (but media attacks Greg Abbott)

The $1.4 Million previously reported was the part that Texas will receive, not the total. Can you guess how the (very few) media reports (if you can find them) are playing the story?

From the July 30, Houston Chronicle:

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Tuesday settled a whistle-blower lawsuit that alleged the Houston nonprofit engaged in fraudulent Medicaid billing for $4.3 million – nearly $3 million more than was announced last week by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Yes, Planned Parenthood is quoted as claiming that the settlement for the AG’s finding that they are guilty of over $30M in fraud is “baseless” and simply a way to end harassment and to avoid turning over the (altered) medical records of patients. But the spin on the story is that Texas’ Attorney General, Greg Abbott, didn’t report the total and sent out his announcement before the settlement was signed by all parties.

My news search yields some op-eds and stories by Texas’ newspapers and a few more on pro-life sites.

‘Obamacare’ National Marketing Campaign To Cost Nearly $700 Million « CBS DC

In the meantime, doctors who still accept Medicare (not hospitals or other “providers”) are facing decreased payments and increased hassles.

As President Barack Obama’s health care law moves from theory to reality in the coming months, its success may hinge on whether the best minds in advertising can reach one of the hardest-to-find parts of the population: people without health coverage.

The campaign won’t come cheap: The total amount to be spent nationally on publicity, marketing and advertising will be at least $684 million, according to data compiled The Associated Press from federal and state sources.

via ‘Obamacare’ National Marketing Campaign To Cost Nearly $700 Million « CBS DC.

Texas DPS director on “Tampon Gate”

Evidently, there were men who tried to enter the Senate Gallery ith tampons. Sounds suspicious to me!

“The possession of these and other items is not a crime, and therefore, there was no basis to arrest and detain visitors who possessed such items; however, they were denied access unless they discarded the items,” McCraw wrote. “The Department never took possession of these items and had no justification to do so.”

No officer questioned by the San Antonio Express-News or the Texas Tribune could confirm they had confiscated feces or urine or that they had any knowledge of such items being in the Capitol.

McCraw explained the basis for which officers did not allow feminine hygiene products including tampons and sanitary napkins into the gallery.

“The arbitrary prohibition of feminine hygiene products, for example, on its face would seem absurd,” McCraw wrote. “However, the Department received reports that some visitors planned to throw feminine hygiene products onto the Senate floor. One woman attempted to enter the Senate gallery with approximately 100 feminine hygiene products and she was denied access, as were two men who possessed approximately 50 feminine hygiene products each.”

He also said names of visitors with “suspicious jars or other items” were not documented because they did not commit a crime by possessing them and ”it would be unreasonable to document names of visitors based on what they might or might not do.”

Howard responded to McCraw’s with “disappointment with the lack of clarity that he provides.”

“At the end of the day, we are still left with unsubstantiated claims, allegations of suspicious jars but no actual evidence,” she said. “The lack of onsite documentation or eyewitnesses — either from officers or members of the public — seems to undercut the assertions laid out in DPS’ original press release and now their response letter. To be frank, it doesn’t pass the smell test. ”

McCraw added to the list of items that were confiscated and discarded by police including ”paint, confetti, glitter, bottles of bubbles, bags of balloons (not inflated), handheld air horns, a bag full of tomatoes” and two bricks, which were being used to prop doors open and were not going to be used as projectiles, he said.

The Express-News has requested records from the Department of Public Safety regarding the July 12 searches and items discarded.

Pro-abort McClendon Amendment Redefines “Child”

McClendan Amendment July1 2013 to HB2

. . .as someone whose mother chose not to abort him!

Democrat Ruth McClendon, from District 120 of San Antonio, proposed an Amendment to HB 2 today that she thinks is necessary, “if we’re not going to allow women to control their own bodies.” The Amendment would re-define “child” as one,

B. whose mother declares in writing in accordance with rules adopted by the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission, that, because of Section 245.010 (a), Health and Safety Code, or Subchapters C and D, Chapter 171, Health and Safety Code, the mother chose not to or did not have access to a facility to exercise her right to an abortion at the time the child was born.

Isn’t it obvious that the mother of each and every born child chose not to abort them? Whether or not there’s a “constitutional right?”

And, please, “at the time the child was born?” Does that mean the mother chose not to abort at birth or that she made the declaration at the time of birth?

Representative Kenneth Sheets, Republican from the Dallas-area District 107, explained that his family is going through adoption and that he knows that the same benefits are available to his family and to everyone.

 

Planned Parenthood, big abortion and the battle to save lives in Texas | Fox News

[R]emind me again why pro-abortion activists want healthy five-month pregnant women to abort their healthy child in dirty, unsafe abortion clinics?

via Planned Parenthood, big abortion and the battle to save lives in Texas | Fox News.

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