Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in San Antonio

I have often read of peaceful and quiet Christmas interludes. One person, alone, in the still of a late Christmas eve or an early Christmas morn surveys a still and serene landscape. Often the ground is pristine white with snow and the heavens are clearly ablaze with brilliant stars. A time for introspection, for remembrance, for reverence.

Christmas time is generally different here in San Antonio. Our sub-tropical clime very rarely brings us snow; warm, muggy, and misty is often the natural backdrop for our holiday celebrations. The bustle and crowds of a city and dense suburban neighborhoods can push away the serene and the quiet. Still, the holiday season and Christmas time are a time for celebration, a time for family.

This evening I got a rare treat. A Christmas-eve cold front has brought a crisp, clear night to bless us. My dog and I walked our neighborhood at about 7:30 tonight and found the sky alight with stars; the heavy vehicle traffic on the freeway, one mile away, muffled—barely there; yards and eves ablaze with Christmas lights and decorations.

It was still. It was peaceful. For a few moments I could enjoy the chill weather, remember northern Christmases past, reflect on the heavens and the love and sacrifice of God’s own son for us. In this spirit, as we, my dog and I, returned to our home and the cozy Yule-time fire, Christmas future seemed very bright, indeed.

Merry Christmas to those who share my faith. Whatever your faith, I wish you all a Happy New Year and the very best for you and for yours. May peace be with you, now and always.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The U.S. Senate Health Control Plan...I mean Health "Care" Plan.

The only "entitlement" is life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equal treatment under the law. We PAY for everything else: police to protect us, highways to drive on, the FAA to monitor air safety, the schools that educate us, we that pay taxes pay for it all. The representatives who pass our laws? They are our employees, not vice-versa, we pay their salaries and expenses. When I show up sick at the ER and cannot pay, the rest of you will pay through taxes or higher insurance. There is no free lunch. I think health care is something that we, as a society, should choose to pay for. An online acquaintance put it to me this way through a quote from a renowned American Jurist: "I like paying taxes; with them, I buy civilization." -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Seems my opinions are considered strange by both extremes: I'd like to see a national single-payer system available for all (and I do mean all) which would include good health maintenance (including encouraging people to take appropriate responsibility for their own health -- liberal social engineering at its finest that this near-libertarian loves) as well as routine, emergency, and catastrophic care. This should be paid for through taxes, and it should be administered by a not-for-profit agency accountable to congress. All this, while at the same time allowing people who can and choose to do so to pay for care above and beyond -- like for purely cosmetic, experimental, or luxury-spa-type clinics and hospitals which are allowed to operate on a for-profit basis--call it a hybrid between public and privately funded systems. Our streets and highways are an analogy: The government (local, state, national) builds and maintains the roads with our tax money where we as individuals could not do so. Each person then can buy the compatible transportation module of his/her choice and means from many for-profit sources. I can drive my eco-friendly ultra-low-emissions econobox or a scooter while a person who can and wishes to pay more for the vehicle itself (and more in highway costs through sales taxes and fuel taxes) can drive the luxury boat of their choice. States run their own highway programs, meeting Federal standards. One difference from highway funds -- I'd like to see the states collect ALL the tax money for health care and manage the single-payer health care within their states -- meeting, of course, Federal standards. On the plus side, this builds incentive (and competition) for efficient management. On the minus side, it opens up more opportunities for fraud and would have to be closely monitored as we do now with the collection and management of employment taxes and sales taxes.

How about the Constitutional issues of requiring everyone to have coverage and the issues of how to fairly collect the taxes that would pay for universal health care? These are two topics worthy and needful of discussion on their own merit but are much too involved to touch here.