Senate is not
built for speed
One can only hope that E.J. Dionne is betraying a sincere lack of understanding in our government when he states in his commentary "Health-care reform - stat!" on Thursday that: "It makes no sense that four or five votes can trump 54 or 55 votes. But, for now, liberals have to live with that."
Our Founding Fathers made it difficult to obtain cloture in the Senate precisely to ensure that any bill would have wide, multipartisan support. This bill certainly fails that criterion.
The Senate is not "an absurd institution, perhaps the least democratic legislative body in any country calling itself a democracy," as Dionne writes. Rather, it is part of the most democratic governing body in world history. Dionne may remember this when the bill in question is something that he does not support.
Opponents of universal health care continually promote a double-counting fallacy in estimating its costs.
Under the current system, everybody has catastrophic coverage, because the uninsured will be cared for at a hospital if they show up after a motorcycle accident, heart attack, imminent premature birth, or similar event. We the public pay for most of this "unreimbursed" care through taxes or our insurance premiums, since few people can actually afford major hospital bills and major events tend to result in bankruptcy.
Under the proposed health-care bill, everybody has to pay for health insurance, with government subsidies in some cases. This new money from the currently uninsured replaces the tax and premium cost we pay for the current system of emergency care for the uninsured. Since we are already obligated for such amounts under the current system, they are not part of the net cost of the new system.
It is particularly fallacious to add premium amounts to be paid by individuals for insurance as an additional cost of the proposed bill, as was suggested in Kevin Ferris' column on Sunday ("Time to stop and determine the true cost of health plan"). These amounts actually relieve the government and the insurance system of a cost burden, rather than increasing it.
Kevin Ferris' latest column is simply another example of a trend I find exasperating. The entire column relies on analysis from one extremely biased source - the Cato Institute - which advocates limited government in all instances. In this case, it predictably estimates dire consequences of health reform.
The problem lies with The Inquirer's choice of commentators. Lately, you have chosen to feature people such as Ferris, John Yoo, and Rick Santorum. These people tend not to discuss the issue but to use an ideological view of the world and impose those views on each subject. At least I commend Michael Smerconish, someone I don't normally agree with, for his thoughtful attemps to analyze issues.
Woods loved game
from the outset
A recent letter postulated that Tiger Woods' infidelity problem could be attributed only to an abusive father who forced him to practice golf against his will from an early age.
Woods has stated many times - and there is no reason to doubt his sincerity - that he fell in love with the game from the minute his father placed a shortened club in his hands. He never had to be forced to play golf, because he loved the game. Every hacker hits a shot or two during a round that makes the struggle worthwhile. It is a magical feeling, and Woods probably felt that feeling with nearly every shot.
It is very kind of Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell to be concerned about the employees of the Board of Revision of Taxes who may lose their jobs if the BRT is voted out of existence. ("BRT cedes majority of power," Thursday). It is very kind of her to want to protect those folks who have attained their jobs through political patronage, and have received quite decent salaries while doing very little work.
I imagine there are thousands of folks out there, probably many in Blackwell's district, who would welcome such a kind fairy godmother.
Blackwell ought to look at the bigger picture and pay less attention to a few employees who will leave the city payroll with pensions. Nobody needs to feel sorry for them.