Friday, May 30, 2014

The Veterans Administration: The VA Has Failed - What Now?


The problems with the Veteran's Administration seem to be just beginning.  Apparently, in a cover up with regard to wait times, the VA has published false reports about veteran wait times in place of the real numbers for wait times American Veterans have actually had to endure with regard to getting healthcare access.

Making matters worse, VA officials received bonuses based on the false reports on wait times.  In fact, there have been reports alleging that many veterans were dying because there was such a lack of access to healthcare providers.

Compounding the problems, as vets return from the foreign wars with all kinds of health issues ranging from war wounds to psychological challenges, the VA has found itself overwhelmed with requests for assistance.

Eric Shinseki, former head of the VA, had resigned his position on Friday amid the breaking scandal.  Now President Obama faces the need to fill the post with a "FIX IT" man who can address the scandal and make sure the VA is fully funded and staffed to meet the needs of vets who are returning home and in need of medical attention.

Matters on this issue seem to be deteriorating rapidly.  Republicans have blocked the Veterans Bill from passing that would have given the VA more funding but Democrats couldn't find the votes to override Republican criticism of "pay-for" spending that was proposed by Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) Senate bill 1982. Apparently, Republicans find it absolutely necessary to deny funds to veterans who desperately deserve access to healthcare.

According the New York Times, veteran visits to healthcare facilities has grown by 26% over the past 5 years while healthcare staff has grown by 18%.  The $156 million budget has more than doubled since 2006. Additionally, Democrats are clamoring for more more hospitals and staff as demand is outpacing supply and will continue to do so unless it is matched with the adequate numbers of healthcare staff and facilities up to 2015 when the remaining troops stationed in Afghanistan return home.

In conclusion, the Republicans and Democrats have a mandate from the American People to meet this need. The VA system will need to be improved, if not overhauled.  There will need to be more hospitals and staff in place to meet the rising healthcare needs of veterans as they age and face new health challenges such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other healthcare matters.

As a final thought, it would be wonderful if Congress could put veteran needs first before the Almighty Dollar budgetary considerations.  Veterans have already more than earned their right to have their healthcare needs met by our great country.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Was Edward Snowden A Patriot: UPHOLDING the Law & NOT Breaking It?


The real questions that face the United States of America are important.  What Snowden did was to uphold the law (the Fourth Amendment).  Leaking top secret government information is considered treason.  But the party Snowden leaked the information was his fellow patriots - not an foreign regime.

WHO IS MORE GUILTY?

Was it the Patriot, Edward Snowden?  Snowden (and rightfully so) did not trust his government or superiors to do the right thing by disclosing to the American People just how bad the breach of privacy really was or how extensive the spying apparatus was with regard to the monitoring of the American People.

Perhaps the bigger culprit isn't Snowden at all.  It's the NSA who is guilty of failing to follow the law as it was written in the Constitution.  No one would argue that he broke his oath to keep security secrets - secret.  In this manner, Snowden broke his oath.  But the question is what is the lesser evil?  Telling the American People about this incredible breach of privacy or breaking an oath so that the NSA can continue UNCHECKED in its surveillance operations?  Snowden clearly felt that these operations clearly violated the rights of the American People to privacy and that such operations were so enormous in scope and magnitude, that to keep the silence would have been akin to to the more treasonous act of not upholding the Fourth Amendment rights of the citizenry and the Constitution - in whole - not in part.

A GREATER CONCERN

Snowden must have felt that a continuous erosion of the Constitution is a very grave concern and very much threatens the entire existence of the Republic.  Where must we draw the line?  Do we slowly ignore the Constitutional rights of citizens to the benefit of the government and security and of less privacy?  To do so, inches the Republic ever closer to a POLICE STATE.  And, when the movements of and freedoms of the citizens of country are slowly and surely eroded into oblivion, so goes the liberty of the nation.

I am sure, that Snowden must have had many thoughts concerning the issues of privacy, upholding the Fourth Amendment and also about preserving privacy and freedom.  NO DOUBT, Snowden knows far more than he is letting on and he won't disclose it completely.  But, at the same time, he was a party to something that very apparently scared him so much that to continue withholding his secret would have been a greater disservice to the American People.

THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

Interestingly, the "GENERAL SEARCH" for information of the NSA isn't all that distant in history from the disputes American Colonialists had with the British Government concerning the abuse of the Writ of Assistance which apparently the subject of much abuse and tension.  Wikipedia states:
The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. It was adopted in response to the abuse of the writ of assistance, a type of general search warrant issued by the British government and a major source of tension in pre-Revolutionary America
THOUGHTS OF THE FOREFATHERS
He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of this country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man….The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people.- Samuel Adams
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.- Benjamin Franklin
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.
- Benjamin Franklin
We the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts–not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
- Abraham Lincoln
A FINAL THOUGHT

Yes, Edward Snowden is guilty of breaking his oath.  And, yes, he is guilty as charged.  But, considering the circumstances and the graveness of the issue at hand, and with regard to his desire to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, I applaud his actions.  I do not think that the government may always be trusted to follow the law nor to disclose to the American People those things which are noxious to the liberty of this great nation.  The bigger culprit here are the men who have perverted the Constitution in the name of "national security" and who have made Edward Snowden a party to these illegal activities and which Snowden, in an act of uncommon bravery and valor, has brought to full light out of love for his country. There is no doubt in my mind, that what Snowden acted on his deepest desire to preserve the privacy and liberty of the American People, which was the right thing to do as it pertains to the Fourth Amendment.

You must now ask yourself these two questions:

(1) Did the American People have a right to know about this massive operation which was a violation of a reasonable right to privacy (in absence of probably cause)?

(2) Would you have trusted the United States Government and the National Security Agency to disclose to the American People the scope and magnitude of their surveillance operations and that such operations were conducted CLEARLY in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution?

(3) Did Snowden really break the law given the fact that he was party to (and was expected to dispense with his illegal duties) with regard to operations - which can adequately be described as massive in both scope and magnitude - that were, again, a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution?

(4) Who is the REAL culprit here?  The NSA or Snowden?

You decide.

Contributor: Michael Hathman

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Case for Obamacare & Medicaid Expansion: Why Christians Should Support It Based on Biblical Teachings

Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act) has long been regarded with fear and skepticism by many.  In fact, some of the Christian left has opposed its implementation.  While these people say they are "Christians" and they oppose accessible healthcare for millions is truly an ANTI-LIFE, ANTI-CHRIST position. And those false teachers who say that America should deny healthcare and healthcare access to MILLIONS of people, clearly are not familiar with or care about what the Bible says on the matter of dealing with the sick.

The Divine Commands

What does the Bible say about dealing with sick people and Jesus?  What does the Bible say about following Jesus' example on how to live.

First, let us consider the following...
"If you love me, you will follow my commandments."
- John 14:15
The Importance of Scripture

Let's consider that statement for a moment.  Jesus has given us several divine commands to which Christians are, as part of the basic faith principles, supposed to follow these commands and fulfill them on a daily basis. There are no exceptions.

Saint Timothy wrote the following and confirms this point - that all scripture is to be used a guide for living:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
- 2 Timothy 3:15 - 17
Real Christianity & Hypocrisy

Fake Christianity is really what we call "religious hypocrisy" and for good reason.  Real Christians try to live out all the teachings and precepts as written in the Bible.  Fake Christians (sorry for this being politically incorrect but it is painfully "on target") take what they want to live out in their lives and leave the rest out. Such people who don't care about doing the "right thing" and yet requiring others to do the "right thing" are the most painfully obvious hypocrites of all - especially to those Christians who are well acquainted with the teachings and precepts of the Bible and of Jesus the Christ himself.

Our Command to Heal the Sick

Apart from Jesus, curing the sick is true philanthropy.  No doubt, Jesus is the greatest of philanthropists EVER.  Indeed, his ministry was spent on healing the sick.  It was so important to Jesus, he made it one of his divine commands:
"Heal the sick..."
- Matthew 10:8
Jesus As Example to Heal the Sick

The Gospels were very concerned for sick people and mentioned Jesus' ministry in action with regard to curing the sick many, many times.  There are many verses that pertain to his healing of the sick: Matt 4:23, 8:16, 9:12, 9:18, 9:35, 10:1, 10:8, 14:14, 14:35, 14:36, 25:36, 25:39, 25:43, 25:44; Mark 1:32, 2:17; 4:29, 5:21, 6:5, 6:13, 6:55, 6:56; Mark 16:18; Luke 4:40, 5:15, 5:17, 5:31, 7:2, 7:21, 8:40, 9:2, 10:9; John 4:46, 6:2, 11:1, 11:2, 11:3, 11:4 and 11:6.

Jesus also said in the Washing of the Feet, the following remarks:
"You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, I am the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did it to you."
- John 13: 13-16
The Epistles of the Saints (As Part of the New Testament)

Saints Peter and Paul wrote to the Christian Churches and gave them instructions on how to live with one another and also to have a strong relationship with God.  As Teachers, their instructions to act like Christ was quite clear:
"Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ."
- 1 Corinthians 11:1
 "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love..."
- Ephesians 5:1-2
An Ultimate Love

If Saint Timothy is right, then all Scripture is God-breathed and true.  Here's another quote taken from another Epistle:
"Everyone who hates his brother is a murder; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." - 1 John 3:15 & 16
 We are called to live charitably for others.  We are REQUIRED to give much.  Charity is a sign of love as well as Godly love.

The Good Samaritan Parable

Luke 10:25-37 is the Parable about taking care of another person who is in bad health after a robbery. Although a Parable, the point illustrates that the persons who are EXPECTED to do the right thing fail and walk past the victim who is dying in the road.  A priest and a Levite left the man for dead (who were the "politicians" of their time).  Along came a Samaritan (who were not well-liked by the People of Jerusalem) and he picked the man up from the where he was laying, put him on his donkey, dressed his wounds and even paid for his stay at a local inn.

Jesus asked the crowd who was the neighbor to the man.  An expert in the law said, "The one who had mercy on him.."  Jesus then commanded, "Go and do likewise."

God Doesn't Care About Economics

God cares about whether we love one another (and he isn't concerned about cost - even if it means laying down your life for another person) - and exhorted us to love even our enemies as he stated...
"A new command I give to you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Remember, Jesus said that if we keep his commandments, this is our testimony to others that we really do love the Lord.  And, Jesus didn't add, "if it is affordable" to the sentence.  Love requires a sacrifice.  That is what makes real love - exactly that - REAL love.

Taking care of the sick isn't an option for Christians.  There is no price tag too high.

Our Bodies & Our Health Is the Greatest Asset God Gives Us

Our health is the most important asset we have.  It's more important than money, roads, bridges, electrical systems, housing or anything else we can have as a person, state of nation.  Protecting and promoting good health and healthcare habits should be the #1 PRIORITY of any nation.  Why?  Because with poor health, nothing else matters in terms of assets.  Helping our fellow countrymen recover from sickness and remaining healthy is a "common sense" requirement of ourselves, our fellow patriots and for God.
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore, honor God with your bodies."
The other reason why God wants us to heal the sick: Our bodies ARE temples of the Lord.  God wants us to tend to them always - especially in times of sickness.  Every temple must take care of every other temple because they are holy as "Temples of the Lord" and to which attendance is a divine requirement set by God himself.

Poor Health Costs Businesses OVER A HALF TRILLION DOLLARS Every Single Year

Forbes just published an interesting article entitled, "US Workforce Illness Costs $576B Annually From Sick Days to Workers Compensation" and poor health is costing business all across the United States billions and billions of dollars annually with NO END IN SIGHT.  What does this mean to states who are already struggling to make ends meet?  Less taxable revenue from businesses in every place across the country.  As a matter of fact, healthcare maintenance and getting people to stay in better health would add to corporate profitability - NO DOUBT.

No doubt, a healthy populace makes the nation and states more money.  Tax revenues increases and helps offset deficits (if not otherwise spent).  A healthy population can and does raise taxable revenues.  Healthy people are are more productive and have higher incomes are also more "well adjusted" and have less stress in their lives.  In short, better health means greater happiness and leads to a more joyful life.

Wild, Wild West Healthcare or Regulated Healthcare

There are many insurance companies that are not comprised of true Christian believers.  In fact, many companies, I would venture to guess, ONLY CARE ABOUT PROFITS.  This means, PROFITS before people and PROFITS before patients.

Christians have a duty to make certain that healthcare providers provide enough services for the policies they offer consumers.  Gone now are the days when healthcare companies can now just issue crappy, terrible consumer policies without regard to any laws or legal restrictions.  Christians have a moral obligation to make sure the consumers receive the care they need without being gouged on high premiums and served with substandard policies that offer little in the way of meaningful healthcare substance.  Consumers have an unequivocal right to receive as much healthcare as they pay to receive and the exchange for premium payments and care should be commiserate with each other.

The healthcare exchanges now allow consumers to see policies and compare plan features and deductibles. There hasn't been any kind of feature that has allowed companies to compete for consumer premiums as these plans do.  A side-by-side comparison now exists to open the door to greater and more meaningful competition among insurance providers.  Indeed, the Affordable Care Act ("ACA") now allows for insurance companies to compete in a meaningful, and real way.  In fact, www.healthcare.gov, now makes buying healthcare more affordable because competition on side-by-side premium comparisons helps drive down premium costs as providers compete for greater market share of the healthcare insurance market. Furthermore, the government website can now be likened to travel and hotel websites where several thousand businesses compete for consumer travelers all across the United States such as www.hotels.com and www.expedia.com.

In Conclusion

As a final thought, Christians have a moral obligation to heal the sick and those obligations, in the light of a divine command from Jesus, is a very serious one.  Christians (at least the REAL ones) must understand that our duty to help those are sick is not a choice that God gives us - it is a command that is not subject to change.  The costs of not healing the sick means a less fruitful life for the sick person and a less joyful one as well.  Indeed we are called to be a light to the word and provide help and service to the sick.  When we heal the sick, we restore their lives in much more meaningful ways than just their health.  We are able to give them a second chance at life, to enable them to have the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to the world.  When we heal the sick, we not only restore their bodies to health.  We become the purveyors of hope, love, joy and better opportunity.  We become their ticket to a better life.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Balancing the Budget - Mission Impossible


Are you a Democrat?  Are you a Republican?  Are you an independent?  Does it even matter when it comes to the budget and budget spending?

Here's the problem America faces: Spending more than income is a huge economic problem.  It is simply unsustainable.  Spending must meet income.  The two must be reconciled.  But, here is the worst part of the news: it can and WILL NEVER BE reconciled?  Why?  Because here's the UGLY TRUTH about what America is facing:

(1)  EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR that the Federal Reserve prints is borrowed by the United States Government WITH INTEREST.  Every single bank that is chartered by the Federal Reserve also owns a share in the Federal Reserve.  THE FEDERAL RESERVE IS A PRIVATELY OWNED BANKING ENTITY and is independent from the United States Government.  Every single dollar printed is issued at a certain interest rate.  The Federal Reserve is neither "Federal" in any sense of the word nor is it a "Reserve" in any sense of the word.  It is impossible to drive down a debt when every single dollar is issued with interest.

SOLUTION: The Federal Reserve must be nationalized so we can bring down the debt.  There was no Federal Reserve prior to December 23, 1913.  Indeed, while it is famously known that the central bank was created in response to several panic outbreaks, it was created by secular forces and ungodly men IN SECRET.  Prior to this date, the money was printed by Congress (which is the way it was designed in the Constitution) "Congress shall have the power to mint..."


(2)  Government Should Be Limited on Borrowing Money.  Could you imagine giving a borrower the power to borrower without having a plan for repayment?  Of course not!  Then why would any lender give a government a loan?  Answer: Government have nearly "guaranteed" income in the form of taxes to repay. But, the taxation base of any taxing power is LIMITED AND FINITE.  Governments are spending more than they make EVERY SINGLE YEAR and WITHOUT ANY PLAN FOR REPAYMENT? Governments MUST formalize a plan to for repayment of any money borrowed regardless of tax base and taxing power.

(3)  Government Should Be Required to "Balance the Books" Year End and Year Out.  With the exception of an "emergency" such as World War II, Governments should be focusing on spending where spending needs to be spent.  This means spending on (1) Defense; (2) Infrastructure; (3) Investing in the health, education and economic improvement of society.  This means not a "hand out" but rather a "hand up" for people who need it and promote programs the inspire and motivate people with better living conditions and opportunity.

(4) Government Should Be Prohibited from Giving Tax Breaks In Times of Financial Deficits. Giving tax breaks when government coffers are in the red is a very stupid move.  Tax breaks should only be given to businesses to "lure them" into residency only.  Driving up deficits only serves to destabilize the national economy as a part of the whole.  A failure to pay bills by governments breaks trust to people and entities doing work on the part of government because fear builds and destabilizes trust.  If trust is broken too much, the government may suffer a credit downgrade.

(5) The Budget Is Based on Trust.  Once trust vanishes, even for an instant, investors will not trust to lend to government (even in national emergencies) because of fear of default.  Once trust in government's ability to repay vanishes, the entire economic system can and will collapse.  Credit markets (which is the fossil fuels of economic markets) will seize up and there will be nothing the government can do to recover from the loss of trust.

(6) Excessive Spending Horribly Drives Down the Value of the Dollar (Leads to Inflationary Pressure).  Printing too much cash and releasing too much money into a system where the dollar is steadily losing its value is a very serious concern.  Indeed, if the dollar were to devalue further, the United States of America can very well lose its reserve currency status in the world as the "preferred currency" for domestic and international trade.

(7) Repayment of Debts Owed Is NEVER A Political Bargaining Chip.  Ethically and morally, the government, just like anyone else, should be required to pay their debts according to the terms of the borrowing agreement.  It isn't up to political debate and the budget cannot and should never be "held hostage" for some other political gain.  Fair is fair.  The repayment of debts owed must be paid on time regardless of what the current "political agenda" is.

(8) The Debt Ceiling Is a STUPID Idea.  Government should never be capped by its ability to borrow.  A "debt ceiling" is a bad idea and a political "tool" to use in political negotiations.  There is no need for a debt ceiling to exist.  But, a plan to constantly "balance the budget" is an absolute requirement.

(9) A Constitutional Amendment to Present A Working Budget.  Congress must pass a budget EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  It is about time that an amendment to the United States Constitution be enacted (in conjunction with the 14th Amendment) to pass a budget that meets the essential needs of the American People and preserves the infrastructure of our nation.

In conclusion, the dollar is the biggest bargaining chip on the table.  But, the bargaining depends on trust and value of the chip sitting between buyer and seller, investor and investee, the lender and the borrower.  Once the trust is gone in the value of the chip (which is greatly linked to financial responsibility) what is left?  The financial scenario can only lead to a bartering and/or losing financial power to another foreign replacement reserve currency or a worldwide currency where "minting power" is no longer located in the United States. The consequences of which would pale in comparison to the Economic Crisis of 2007.

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