Russell and Duenes

Archive for the ‘Health Care Hydra’ Category

If You Actually Want to Give Birth to Your Child, It’ll Cost You!

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natural-childbirth-142I have in the past remarked that it would difficult to find a culture that has outwardly promoted “feminism” and “women’s right” more than ours, while at the same time actually treating women with contempt and disdain. There are many ways to demonstrate this, but it came home to me again yesterday as my wife was commenting on a New York Times story about the cost of giving birth. (American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World). One woman without maternity coverage was told by her local hospital that her birth would cost somewhere between $4,000 and $45,000. It isn’t shocking that the hospital didn’t have a clue about the cost, since one of the massive problems with our health care system is that nobody know what anything costs because prices are not allowed to play their proper role. But I digress. The cost we’re looking at in America is, on average, over $10,000 to give birth. I’m low-balling this, and that’s an average. It’s also a travesty.

Further, the radiology department wanted to charge this woman just shy of a grand to get an ultrasound, which she was ultimately able to bargain down to $655. Moreover, the article informs us that “[i]n 2011, 62 percent of women in the United States covered by private plans that were not obtained through an employer lacked maternity coverage,” like the woman above. Here in the land of “feminism” it cost more than double the highest cost in Europe, and triple the highest cost for a C-section.

The article goes on to chronicle the manner in which we pay for maternity care in America, showing it to be highly inefficient and cost-intensive. It also discusses the fact that if states have to foot the bill under government health plans, many states are going to go broke: “Medicaid, the federal-state government health insurance program for the poor, pays for more than 40 percent of all births nationally, including more than half of those in Louisiana and Texas. But even Medicaid, whose payments are regarded as so low that many doctors refuse to take patients covered under the program, paid an average of $9,131 for vaginal births and $13,590 for Caesarean deliveries in 2011.” But you can check this all out for yourself over at the Times.

I raise the issue because what I see all around me is politicians, pundits, and sundry other “women’s rights” advocates shouting from the rooftops that we need more access to abortion and contraceptives. We simply must have this, and it should be very affordable, if not free, for all women. But when it comes to a mother actually having her child, rather than having him or her killed, suddenly it costs an arm and a leg. Where’s the indignation? Where’s the outrage? There are few things, if indeed there is anything, that are more inextricably bound to being a woman than having a baby. It’s utterly unique to women, women who we as a culture claim to hold in such high esteem. But it seems we don’t hold the having of babies in high esteem. No, if you want to do that, you’re gonna have to pay, and through the nose. If we want to encourage women to have their babies, and to not look at childbearing as a “punishment,” this seems like it might be a good place to start. Maybe in the Church.

Somebody can tell me if I’m missing something, other than the relative silence about women having to pay five figures to do something that is so central to human existence, and which often does not require a lot of techno-gadgetry.



The Sequester, Entitlements, and “The Least of These”

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esolenWhen someone close to me once asked why I was generally opposed to our current welfare state, I told him it had little, if anything, to do with “taking my tax money.” If the government could take my tax money, give it to others as welfare payments and programs, and produce virtuous and thriving people, I’d gladly hand over the money. The problem with the welfare state has never finally been the money, but the effect the money has on human flourishing in every area of life, from spirituality, to the economy, to sexuality, to marriage, to parenting, to cities, to prisons, to community life, to human relationships in general. The issue has never been: “The welfare state hasn’t hurt your pocketbook, so it shouldn’t be a problem for you.” Rather, the issue is: What does it mean to love my neighbor as myself, and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you? The issue is: What do justice, mercy and the love of God require? For far too many U.S. citizens, good intentions and feeling like we’re “doing something” are quite good enough.

Touchstone contributor, Anthony Esolen, provides a more articulate and pointed answer to the question, “what’s wrong with the welfare state?” than I could have given to my interlocutor, and you can read the whole thing in his brief piece over at The Public Discourse, entitled “The Least of These.” The power of Esolen’s piece is in its presentation as if out of the mouth of the young urban male toward whom our current government entitlement policies are aimed. Esolen writes:

One group [i.e., the government] profits, in power, from the profligacy of the other, which it “rewards” with money confiscated from the general public. They thus gain millions of publicly funded jobs to manage the people whom their policies have corrupted, and they move far away from those people, assuaging their consciences by voting correctly and holding correct opinions. Their hands do not get dirty. What, on the dreadful day of doom, will that boy in Philadelphia say to the rich who have ignored him, or worse, who have profited by his confusion?

In Esolen’s telling, the young male recounts to the government what he truly needed, and what he got instead. Esolen thus lays bare the crucial human issues bound up in our welfare state, and as such, his thoughts deserve serious consideration. To that end, I could not recommend a more succinct and penetrating account than Esolen’s.


Written by Michael Duenes

February 22, 2013 at 9:49 am

Obamacare Mandate is Worse Than You Think

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Written by Michael Duenes

June 27, 2012 at 4:42 am

Obamacare Is About The Survival Of Our Constitutional Republic

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More is at stake in the passage of Obamacare than simply “healthcare.” Our very Constitutional form of government is at stake, and it is a glad relief to see that U.S. judges are seeing it the same way (so far). Federal District Court judge Roger Vinson explained it this way in his recent ruling (State of Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services):

It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting — as was done in the Act — that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only.

There’s a great summary of Judge Vinson’s ruling here.


HT: National Review Online

Written by Michael Duenes

January 31, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Response to: A Needful Reminder about Greed

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Instead of posting this in the comment section, I feel it is best served here.

If Wilson is correct in his statement that “In the Bible, greed is wanting to take other people’s money,” then the greediest people are those who devote their lives to wanting other people’s money. This is the mantra of Wall Street. It has permeated every pore of the financial sector of the world. It is not the mantra of government. I agree that government has a tendency for greed, but mostly to push agendas forward that aid their constituents (and sometimes their self interest). The constituency of Wall Street tends to be Wall Street (see Goldman Sachs). That is not to say that financiers on Wall Street don’t concern themselves with the financial outcomes of those who hire them, but their entire structure is built on making money for the sake of building wealth for themselves first and their constituents second. The government taxes to make money to provide services first. Are many government leaders greedy and corrupt: YES! But the overwhelming evidence points to Big Business as “designed for greed” versus government which is “greedy by default.” I think it makes a significant difference. I am not defending government, but rather casting the most dispersion upon the group that has the first level of blame in the current financial problem: Wall Street.

D-  I honestly don’t know why you feel you need to constantly defend Wall Street. It seems as if you are holding, as Wilson is, to some sort of conservative desire to promote unadulterated capitalism. Capitalism did not work in the housing crash- and it is OK for that to be the case. Capitalism may work in bringing us out of the crisis- that is OK too. But sometimes it just doesn’t work and greed is to blame. This is one of those times. Maybe you are seeking a sense of internal justice, to see everyone blamed for our financial mess, then we can blame the government and “common folk” too- there is enough blame to go around.

But Wall Street does not need a righteous defender. They need repentance not justification.


Written by Michael Duenes

April 27, 2010 at 11:14 am