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First they came for the communists,
but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists
and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they
came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they
came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
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|Revolt of the Geezers - Monday, August 03, 2009
Revolt of the Geezers
David C. Stolinsky, MD
The other night I had a dream. No, it wasn’t a beautiful dream of brotherhood, like Dr. King’s dream. But it wasn’t a nightmare, either. In a nightmare, terrible things happen. In my dream, terrible things were about to happen, but prompt action prevented them from happening.
Before going to bed, I had been surfing the Internet for information on ObamaCare, the Health-Care Bill that purports to cover the uninsured, while leaving untouched those who are satisfied with their insurance. In fact, when Investor’s Business Daily tried to read the thousand-page bill, it was necessary only to reach Page 16 before finding that private health insurance will end − which is the plan. And the impartial Congressional Budget Office states that costs will be overwhelming.
Revealingly, members of Congress want to exempt themselves from the law and keep their current plan. And no wonder − politicians don’t want their health care rationed. Ted Kennedy wouldn’t want to be denied treatment for his brain tumor because he is “too old,” so it wouldn’t be “cost-effective” to treat him. Arlen Specter wouldn’t want to be denied treatment for his lymphoma because he didn’t meet arbitrary “guidelines” decreed by remote, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats.
If our health-care system is “broken,” why does America have the best cancer survival statistics? Britain’s National Health Service, with its waiting times and rationed care, results in lower cancer survival. And why is America responsible for the majority of advances in health care? So as I went to bed, I was troubled by the thought that instead of improving our current system, the Democrats plan to uproot it completely − based on erroneous assumptions.
As I dozed off, I was mulling President Obama’s view of surgery for the elderly: “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.” I was pondering Obama’s opinion of cardiac pacemakers for the elderly: “If we’ve got experts that are advising doctors that the pacemaker will save money...” I thought that health care was about saving lives. Perhaps my medical-school professors misinformed me. And then, predictably, even the painkillers can be eliminated.
So it was no surprise that I slept fitfully. I was aware that under ObamaCare, my prospects for a long sleep will be excellent. Movie mobsters call it a “dirt nap,” while bureaucrats call it “cost-effectiveness.” That name sounds much more benign and scientific, but the result will be similar.
My dream began at a table. It looked like an ordinary dinner table, but the people sitting around it were far from ordinary.
There was a retired Army officer who had served in Desert Storm. He was told he had prostate cancer, but because of his age, “watchful waiting” would be the only treatment available. He managed to suppress his awesome temper, but he could not hide his leadership abilities.
There was a lean man with gray, crew-cut hair. He had been a Marine in Vietnam, but now he had a neurologic disease. Medication was relieving his symptoms, until someone, somewhere decided that continuing it would not be “cost-effective.” The gunny now walked with a cane, but his eyes hinted that he was not a man to provoke.
There was a computer expert who had a low-grade but incurable lymphoma. He hoped for a cure, but he feared that medical research would be slowed by oppressive regulations and removal of the profit motive. Two-thirds of the annual increases in health-care spending result from medical innovations, so cutting spending will necessarily reduce innovation. Because of his work, he was able to hack into government computer systems.
There was an older woman who was a prosecuting attorney. She worried about whether her aged father would continue to receive proper care. She did not understand how people could be so kindhearted that they couldn’t bear to execute brutal murderers, yet at the same time be so coldhearted that they remained silent when their president proposed leaving the elderly with broken hips and no pacemakers. Because of her work, she had many friends in law enforcement.
There was a gray-haired nurse whose mother had had a stroke and required a feeding tube. The old lady remained alert and enjoyed visits with her daughter, but she needed the tube to avoid choking on food. That is, she did until an anonymous committee decided that her “poor quality of life” required removal of the tube, so she would die slowly of dehydration and starvation over a week or two. Of course, the committee asked neither the patient nor her daughter their opinion of the now-standard Schiavo Treatment. Because of her work, she had access to all types of drugs.
There was a construction contractor whose older brother had broken his hip. But instead of surgery to repair it and allow the man to spend his later years pain-free and walking, anonymous bureaucrats offered only pain pills. Of course, the bureaucrats asked neither the contractor nor his brother their opinion of the now-standard Obama Treatment. Because of his work, he had access to heavy equipment.
There was a young woman whose grandfather had been on Social Security. He received government-mandated “counseling,” advising him of his “option” not to get medical treatment but just to die and save the state money. This “counseling” made the old gentleman feel useless, so he killed himself, thereby saving the state even more money. His granddaughter had access to no weapons − except her deep anger, which can be the most dangerous weapon of all.
The retired Army officer led the discussion. Everyone contributed ideas on how to overcome the destructive effects of ObamaCare.
But no one could think of nonviolent methods to undo a system that had become entrenched.
No one could think of nonviolent methods to dismantle the vast bureaucracy that had grown like a cancer, infiltrating almost every aspect of society, while masking its deadly intentions in the camouflage of “health” and “fairness.”
No one could think of nonviolent methods to convince sheep-like people to give up the passivity to which they had become habituated, even when they were being led to the slaughterhouse.
No one could think of nonviolent methods to convince the self-anointed “elite” to give up their privileged status, and their prompt access to top-drawer medical care without waiting in line with us “common” people.
So the discussion turned to other methods. No one around the table was willing to sit idly while they and their loved ones were bureaucratized to death. But as plans were being formulated, I woke up.
I awoke with a smile on my face. Things were not as hopeless as I had feared. Despite the socialist, statist fantasies of the self-anointed “elite,” for the most part America remains a nation of individualists.
People like that are unlikely to remain submissive as they watch the lives of their loved ones and themselves being sacrificed to the arbitrary rulings of paper-shuffling bureaucrats, penny-wise accountants and power-hungry central planners.
People like that are unlikely to remain passive as control of their health care is seized by bumbling incompetents and self-important dilettantes who couldn’t even run a simple program like “cash for clunkers,” much less keep Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac from going broke.
Americans, even the disabled and the elderly, will not line up on railroad platforms to be taken away in box cars, either literally or figuratively. The strength of old people is that they remember how things used to be. If all else fails, the geezers may recall the words of Churchill: “You can always take one with you.”
Churchill was bracing the British people for an anticipated invasion by Nazi troops. A similar thought may occur to people who anticipate an invasion by Nazi-like ideas and Nazi-like methods. One should be careful not to give people the idea that they have nothing to lose.
But as I said, it was only a dream.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.