A New Beginning
By Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort
Things have changed, drastically. We were promised by then-candidate Barack Obama that things would change if he became President, and he has kept his word. We have witnessed radical change in our domestic policies and foreign relations. The President and the Democratic-controlled Houses of Congress have turned this country 180 degrees, and all in just a few short months.
Let us examine some of the more dramatic changes that have occurred under the current administration. More than one trillion dollars have been spent (and counting) to stimulate the economy. Included in this unprecedented spending the President proudly reports that there is absolutely no pork, no special interest payoffs, and complete transparency. Some of those in Congress who went along with the spending bills admitted that they had not read all of the particulars. I am no economist but I do understand giving blank checks to the government is not conducive to pork-free spending nor transparency. In fact, the more we are learning about these stimulus measures the more it seems that there are some big-time payoffs going on. Call me a skeptic.
The President is exerting great pressure to get his dream Universal Healthcare project on the books and running. Do people have any conception whatsoever as to the radical changes this will engender in the healthcare field? Do doctors understand that they are about to lose much of the prestige (not to mention pay) that goes with their chosen vocation? If they did, they would probably be marching on Washington now. If the Government is going to control healthcare that will mean those of us who currently pay for healthcare will have to subsidize those who do not have healthcare, more than we already do. That is a noble commitment indeed. This is called a redistribution of our wealth. If Universal Healthcare goes through, it will be almost impossible to negate. No politician will be able to weather the storm if he tries to undo this entitlement program. Social Security is draining our economy at an unprecedented rate and when President Bush tried to offer the option of privatization to younger payees he was practically run out of town on a rail.
Those who feel that Universal Healthcare is a right should make donations to their favorite hospitals or health clinics, or families lacking healthcare (or illegals for that matter)? I don't understand the morality of forcing some to pay for others. To me it sounds like tyranny. What about those (and there are many) who choose not to buy healthcare? Many can afford it, but instead choose to spend their money in other ways. Why should they get a free ride (and of course we know that there is no such thing as a free ride)?
Do people not understand what is going to happen to our elderly if Universal Healthcare goes through? By necessity the Government "Allocators" of the nation's healthcare resources will have to choose how and on whom to use the resources. Like anything else there is a limit. So let's say there is one heart machine and two people who need it. Who do you think will be awarded the life-saving machine? The 63 year-old grandma, or the 25 year old stud? The value of human life will be reduced to simple numbers. Those who smoke (or work in a smoky environment), or who are overweight, or who drink, or who don't exercise enough (or who don't vote the 'right' way) will be lower in the medical pecking order than those who make all the 'choices' that the bureaucrats want us to make.
When the Government takes over healthcare, the quality and quantity of our healthcare must go down. Why will people want to spend eight years hard at work to become a doctor when the Government is going to cap their earning capacity? How will it feel having to wait weeks to see the doctor or months to have a simple procedure done, or hours to get medications? There is no incentive to get those things to the consumer faster when one's pay or job is not tied to customer satisfaction. Enjoy waiting in the post office to buy stamps? Well multiply that by several hundred times to get a sense of how it will feel to see the doctor.
The limit on resources exists even now, of course, but obviously the motivation of increasing resources will decrease when the government takes over responsibility. Just like a private businessman has incentives to work harder than the competition and stay late, a government employee gets paid the same either way and has no incentive to work overtime (when he is off the clock).
Universal Healthcare is probably the most profound change in governmental policy since the New Deal, and yet the President said that we must rush to put this through now. As it is, our current menu of entitlement programs is bankrupting the nation. That is a fact.
The Government has poured tens of billions of dollars into GM only to see the icon of American industry go bankrupt. When GM emerges from bankruptcy the US Government will own 60-70% of the company. Am I delirious? Does this sound Constitutional? Is this limited government? Do people even care?
The President stated that much as he hates to do it he has to save GM. He simultaneously dictates what kind of cars Detroit should be making. Am I going crazy? The President of the United States of America is selling cars?! This type of governmental interference with the private sector has never been beneficial to the general public. Never. And that too is a fact. We are giving away our liberty. The mainstream media is nowhere to be found. Where is the healthy skepticism of our once-great newspapers and television news sources? Why is the media more concerned with the Obama's date night in New York than the socialization of American Medicine and Industry?!
One must wonder why is GM getting this bailout as opposed to the hundreds if not thousands of other businesses that are bleeding in this recession? Within GM we wonder why are the pension plans of the UAW members more valuable than the shareholders who just saw their GM stock go up in smoke? By the way stockholders include pension plans and state governments not to mention millions of individuals. How does the President choose whose assets must be saved and whose can be sacrificed? What criteria is being used to decide "who shall live and who shall die?" I may be wrong (and overly cynical) but I smell political considerations at work here. When political considerations dictate financial policy in this way - when the playing field is purposely made uneven by the government, we can only expect mass corruption and shrinking national wealth. Call me skeptical, but I think the genie is out of the bottle.
Why is it that this Administration has chosen to penalize those who have been successful through hard work? All things being equal the vast majority of Americans are law abiding. If someone is wealthy most likely it is because he or she worked really hard at it and achieved their wealth legally. Why should they be punished for this legally-obtained success? By increasing anyone's tax burden the government is taking away the incentive for hard work. The government is encouraging others to manipulate the system and take advantage of the hard work of others. Every penny paid in taxes is less that we can spend on what we choose. In other words, increased taxes and fees means less freedom.
As much as these policies will harm the rich they will harm the poor even more. When the government tells someone, "I will be the one who will make your life worth living," that person has already lost his freedom. Self reliance is the hallmark of American greatness. Everything that I have seen this administration do seems to be undermining the concept of self-reliance. The Government will tell us whose job is more important and whose life is worth more. This is tyranny.
Does anyone really think the Government can do a better job running GM than GM (even though they went bankrupt)? Does anyone really think the Government can do a better job running healthcare than the healthcare industry? Does anyone really think that President Obama can design a better automobile or run a bank better, or make healthcare more cost-effective? Only those on the front lines, currently in those industries (who know the market trends and the context of those trends) can possibly make those determinations accurately. If they are wrong, the market will correct them. More importantly than IF the President can do these things is the question SHOULD the President be doing these things? I am no Constitutional scholar but I believe the framers did not have this type of government in mind.
America became the world's lone superpower by empowering the individual and limiting the scope and reach of government. The Chinese Government recognizes this and has therefore granted a great deal of financial freedom (though not political freedom) to its citizens. Because of this change in Chinese policy they have become a financial juggernaut. President Obama seeks to do the opposite to our economy. With these policies we cannot expect enhanced wealth. We are selling our freedom for empty promises that history has proven cannot work. We are ignoring our past. We have blinded ourselves to the facts.
The President just appointed a Salary Czar. It is a very new reality in America when the President is determining what people should get paid for their jobs. Does the President know better what an individual's pay should be than the market place? The President wants the janitors to get paid more (a living wage), and the doctors and CEO's to get paid less. The President wants more entitlements for the poor (including unemployed) to be paid for by those who do work. That doesn't seem intelligent to me. Why would we penalize one who has striven to stay in school (making significant financial and personal sacrifices) through all of those years to benefit one whose chosen career is taken without formal training or special skill? I have nothing against janitors or the unemployed at all, by the way. But I must wonder why would one work hard under such a system? Why should the President (or any government body) determine a person's worth? Is he qualified to make such determinations? Is anyone? What experience or training has the President received that makes him qualified to make such determinations? Why is he seeking to control all aspects of our lives? Just exactly whose concept of liberty is this anyway?
And now we turn to the area of foreign relations. The President is trying mightily to achieve closer relations with Muslim countries. I for one am alarmed at this trend. I have not yet seen a Muslim country that values the same things that we Americans do. Our basic freedoms, for the most part, do not exist in Moslem countries. I do not know of a Moslem Government that isn't rife with corruption. Truth be told, I find the Moslem countries backwards and repulsive. I don't want closer relations with them! I don't want to feel their influence here. Even when given the gift of Democracy they abuse this right in the must hateful and deplorable manner possible by electing cold-blooded murderers. Their actions are an embarrassment to human kind.
The President dramatically overstated the contributions of the Moslem world to civilization as we understand it. But even if those contributions would all be true (and some of them clearly are not), that does not negate the fact that America has given much more to Moslems than Moslems have given to America. Blaming America for Iranian intransigence and Saudi perfidy is like blaming Jews for Nazi atrocities.
Islam is either a religion of intolerance and violence or it has been hijacked by those who make it such. In any event violence perpetrated against innocents by Islamists is unarguably rampant and growing. The silence is deafening from Moslem Governments, and by Moslem Communities, on this disease.
President Obama has called on Israelis and Palestinians to make painful concessions to move forward. While he has been quick to articulate what the Israeli concessions should be (right now a settlement freeze), what concessions does he call upon from the Palestinians? Recognizing Israel's 'right to exist?' Israel exists; to heck with their recognition. They already recognized it. How many times does Israel have to pay for the same magic carpet? Even if they say they recognize it (again) I am not impressed. They are liars and thieves. The 'moderate' leader of the PLO wrote his doctoral dissertation denying the Holocaust. I am not interested in his opinions and I don't need his approval. If this is who the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria choose to lead them then they have damned themselves to hell. It is not Israel's fault, nor is it Israel's problem.
Even when Israel has made painful concessions (like giving away the Sinai to Egypt) what practical benefits has Israel accrued? Egypt is not Israel's friend. Egypt works daily to undermine and destroy the Jewish state. They are just not doing by shooting guns at the Israelis any more. Instead they are letting others do the shooting for them. Anyone who tells you differently is lying.
Anyone who wants peace and stability in the Middle East must be against any Israeli land concessions to their sworn enemies. Peace for peace is the only possible formula that can work. And the Palestinians and Moslem Governments are not interested in peace for peace. They want Israel. All of Israel. They find the existence of a Jewish State in their midst an affront to their religious beliefs. Unless they change their religious beliefs there can be no peace.
There are no two ways about it. Israel will not go away. The Palestinians must be absorbed into their coreligionists lands. The whole Muslim obsession with Israel is most unhealthy (and disingenuous). The US and EU most stop trying to mollify the Moslems for their own benefit as well as Israel's. The attempts at appeasing the insatiable Islamist beast will only whet its appetite for more. Enough is enough already.
If President Obama wants to have an honest dialogue, as he claims, it must start with an honest premise. The recent history of Islam has not been beneficial to civilization. It is the course of Islam, not the US or Israel, that must change for there to be a true and lasting peace.
I have been inspired by President Obama's successful campaign. I am sincerely hoping for change and thanks to the radicalization I see emanating from Washington I am determined to work for that change every day!
Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort is director of Chabad at La Costa and a scholar on AskMoses.com. Rabbi Eilfort welcomes readers comments and questions and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected].