Grassroot Perspective – April 17, 2003-Presidents Day: A Dissenting Opinion; The Future of Medicaid: Consumer-Directed Care; Bad Medicine

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Presidents Day: A Dissenting Opinion

From the Independent Institute

Every U.S. president gets some doses of criticism while in office —
a few have even suffered mass unpopularity for several years after
their term expired. But for the most part, the office of the
presidency is hailed by the public and the punditry as one of the
cornerstones of American political culture — the institution that
gives the American experiment in self-government badly needed
“direction,” thereby making it “work.”

True, no American president is on par with the worst of history’s
butchers and kleptocrats. But should this be the standard for
measuring presidential character? Maintaining a proper perspective
about American government should not mean overlooking the habitual
lying, stealing from the public purse, circumvention of the
constitutional division of powers, and other anti-social mischief
characteristic of U.S. presidents — although this is the implication
of the federal holiday called Presidents’ Day.

Readers of THE LIGHTHOUSE have read much in the past year about moral
failings of Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the most lionized of American
presidents. Honest Abe’s arrest or intimidation of “seditious”
newspaper editors alone should be enough to earn him low marks, but
America’s collective amnesia is severe.

However, a major failure of another very popular president —
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066 — which
authorized the round-up of 120,000 innocent Japanese-Americans and
their relocation to “protective” interment camps — has been
receiving great attention of late. With a little luck, the result
could mean that on February 19th of each year — the anniversary of
FDR’s interment order — the nation will publicly recognize that all
has not been right with the institution of the presidency. Surely,
that would add a measure of balance in a country seemingly enamored
with the celebrity of its popularly elected autocrats.

Above article is quoted from Independent Institute, The Lighthouse,
“Enlightening Ideas for Public Policy…” Volume 5, Issue 7, Feb.
17, 2003

– The Future of Medicaid: Consumer-Directed Care

By James Frogue

Backgrounder No. 1618, The Heritage Foundation

Arkansas,New Jersey, and Florida were the first states to be granted
Section 1115 waivers to participate in a demonstration project designed
to empower certain disabled Medicaid beneficiaries by giving them a cash
allowance with which to purchase needed services. At the national level,
this experiment is called the Cash and Counseling program. Its initial
successes explode the myth that Medicaid beneficiaries are not capable
of making their own decisions: Satisfaction rates approach 100 percent.
States should adopt the Cash and Counseling approach for as many Section
1915c beneficiaries and services as possible, and expand the consumer
direction approach to other categories of Medicaid beneficiaries via the
Section 1115 waiver process. The Bush Administration has shown itself to
be very supportive of empowering Medicaid beneficiaries in this manner
and very willing to approve waivers to this end. States should take full
advantage of this opportunity.

Above article is quoted from Heritage Foundation, The Insider 2/2003

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Bad Medicine

By Sheldon Richman, March 21, 2003

Those who have been hungering for a real political debate in this
country can’t help but be deliriously overcome with the news that CBS’s
60 Minutes will feature 10 face-offs between former Democratic President
Bill Clinton and former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole. The
history of political thought will never be the same.

Think of it: the maudlin advocate of the “third way” — that is, the
middle ground between freedom and tyranny — will square off against the
acerbic former senator who so richly earned the title “Tax Collector for
the Welfare State.” Now that’s a debate the American people can get
their teeth into.

I was about to ask what the CBS suits could have been thinking, but then
I realized that this pairing exquisitely reflects the state of political
debate in America today. Once people in this country argued over whether
government should be big and pushy or small and demure. But those days
are gone. Now the argument is over how you like your coercive meddling:
direct or indirect. Either way, there will be coercive meddling by the
ham-handed state. So Clinton and Dole are perfect representatives of the
political views that dominate accepted thinking.

There are exceptions to this lineup, but roughly it goes like this: the
Democrats’ program has government providing things to people directly,
while the Republicans’ program has government subsidizing private
companies to provide the same things. This is passes for black and white
in the current scene. But as anyone with a moral sense should be able to
see, these are colors barely distinguishable from each other.

A few examples: The Democrats want government to dispense schooling to
the nation’s children. They might like the federal government to do it,
but they’ll settle for the state and local governments, as long as from
their Washington perches they can dictate what goes on in the classroom.
If parents don’t like it, they can lump it. The Republicans will have
none of this. Under President Bush, state and local governments ladle
out learning also under Washington’s supervision, but if that’s not
satisfactory, he will let parents take their kids to other government
schools. He might even consider letting them move their kids to
nongovernment schools brought to heel by government-controlled funding.
This is called vouchers.

To us recalcitrants there is less difference here than meets the eye. In
both cases, dispensers of the government money ultimately call the
shots. The Republicans do it by an indirect route and call it “school
choice.” But government is the death, not the fount, of choice. Real
choice would let parents keep their money and buy education in the free

Another example is prescription-drug coverage for the elderly. The
Democrats want to add it to Medicare. (I’d sooner bunk with a pit bull
than believe their cost estimates.) The Bush Republicans will have none
of this “socialized medicine.” Their plan would also offer drug
discounts — bigger ones if the elderly go into private managed-care
arrangements. They promise to spend less than the Democrats.

The distance between those two positions is an illusion. In both cases,
the money would come from the taxpayers and be controlled by the
bureaucrats. The Democrats would deal with the drug companies, the
Republicans with the HMOs. Either way, strings will be attached and the
medical marketplace will be further hampered from efficiently providing
life-saving products and services.

The Democrats are honest. They say they want a monster government
bureaucracy controlling drug prices and giving orders to the
pharmaceutical industry. The administration is dishonest, or maybe just
dumb. It wants to subsidize private medical plans, while telling us that
this “free-enterprise approach” will control costs. But it is not a
free-enterprise approach at all.

The Bush plan, like the Democrats’ alternative, still has government in
the middle of the medical system. A bureaucracy will control the money.
A bureaucracy will set the standards. A bureaucracy will enforce its
expectations. When the plan doesn’t work — when costs skyrocket — there
will be a clamor for more controls. This is far different from the free
market, in which entrepreneurs prosper by satisfying consumers.

Whichever plan gets the nod, it’ll be bad medicine.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation in
Fairfax, Va., author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare
State, and editor of Ideas on Liberty magazine.

Above article is quoted from The Future of Freedom Foundation,
Commentaries 3/21/03

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will
herald the end of the republic.” — Benjamin Franklin

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’