Don’t be narrow focused on health care reform

I work in the health care industry and have worked in the health care industry for the last 4 years, minus a stretch of unemployment. I first worked for a medium company whose target market was small and medium clinics, and now I work for a large corporation whose target market is larger clinics and hospitals.

One thing that I’ve come to observe is how short-sighted the thinking appears to be on health care. There is a lot that is not being taken into consideration by those who seek to overhaul 1/7th of our economy. In my opinion it is currently immaterial whether the target is a single-payer system, because they are aiming at changes that don’t target the real causes of the increased health care costs.

Currently if you have insurance, when you visit a physician you receive from your insurance company a document, similar to an invoice, called an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) which outlines the charges from your recent visit and how much was paid by the insurance provider. Your EOB will likely show two prices for each listed charge: the price normally charged by the physician’s office, and a discounted price. The discounted price is the price that the physician agrees to charge patients with a particular insurance plan.

This is why there is a push to get everyone on insurance of some kind: the discounted rates mean that everyone pays less overall. For individuals without insurance, the discounted rates don’t apply, meaning that basically 47 million people are left with a full tab after a doctor’s visit that they have to pay on the spot or make arrangements to pay. If the person is indigent or meets certain qualifications, the government will pay the bill through one of several programs, or there may be private charities that can provide assistance. Again, though, there is no discount applied to the rates.

Part of the problem in this country when it comes to figuring out how to reform the system is that few actually understand how insurance actually works. Actually I would say that is most of the problem. For most covered individuals, there will be no problems when a billing statement is sent from the physician’s office to the insurance company. The insurance company will pay on the claim, you’ll receive the EOB in the mail, and everything goes on as normal.

Part of this lack of understanding is the patient not understanding their insurance benefits. For visits to a clinic, things tend to be relatively straightforward, even when you see a specialist for a consultation. It’s when you need treatments targeting a specialized diagnosis that you need to start reading the fine print on your insurance policy — and the problem is that few actually do. For example, I have psoriasis. Treatments can come only through one source: a dermatologist. Treatments targeting psoriasis range from the relatively inexpensive over the counter treatments that may or may not work to expensive prescriptions (even with my insurance coverage).

Then there’s the physician-side of things, namely the billing process. One of the leading causes of billing problems at hospitals and physician offices is incorrect billing and/or insurance information provided by the patient. Billing problems increase health care costs because they delay payment to the clinic or hospital and increase administrative overhead. Billing problems are also completely preventable, and most are caused by patients — something you won’t hear from health care reform advocates. The clinics and hospitals aren’t in the clear on this, either, as clinics and hospitals will have administrative issues, same with insurance companies (and practically every company with an accounting department). However the cost of their administrative issues are still passed on to their single revenue source: the patients.

This comes down to increasing efficiencies within the clinics and hospitals, as well as the insurance companies. Reduce administrative overhead and administrative errors and issues, and you reduce costs at the same time. This is why there is a push for electronic health record (EHR) systems at clinics and hospitals: they have been shown to reduce errors in the heath care setting, including administrative errors.

However you can’t completely prevent patient errors, which is another reason why a lot of people want a single-payer system. In a single-payer system, patient errors are all but eliminated when it comes to billing. The only thing you have to provide is an account number and some other identifying information — but then again, you’d probably not be surprised how often even just this basic information causes billing issues.

A secondary problem associated with billing that also keeps health care costs up is that most individuals don’t thoroughly review their EOB or billing statements when they receive them. Just like you should not pay for any other services you don’t receive, your insurance company should not pay for services the clinic did not provide to you. These billing and administrative errors need to be corrected, so be sure to go over every statement you receive regarding visits to clinics and hospitals to verify everything is reasonably accurate.

One other thing you can do as well to reduce health care costs: pay out of your own pocket when you can afford to do so. When you pay your co-pay at the front counter at the clinic, ask them the total amount of the bill. If they say they won’t know until their accounting or billing department sees the paperwork from the visit, ask them to bill you first and you’ll make the determination then of whether to bill the insurance company. I actually did this on my most recent doctor visit, and what they quoted me wasn’t affordable, but at least I gave them the chance to avoid billing the insurance company.

Note that billing the insurance company is quite different than notifying the insurance company. If you have an insurance plan with a deductible, always have a statement sent to the insurance company so anything you pay out of pocket is credited against your deductible.

When you pay out of pocket as opposed to billing the insurance company, you help reduce the clinic’s administrative and overhead costs. If more patients did this, imagine how it would start adding up. Now I know that for visits and consultations with specialists, this may not be entirely realistic — my most recent visit was with an Otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat) and the laryngoscopy alone was $150 (not to mention about 1 1/2 hours with numb nasal passages), plus I was additionally billed for the clinical consultation.

However I also had two consultations with a dermatologist about three years ago, and the total billed amount for each consultation was under $60. Had I had the foresight to ask what the billed amount would be, I would’ve paid it in full without them having to bill the insurance company.

I am against the current health care reforms for the single reason that this is not being completely thought out. Everyone involved in the legislative process thus far has been very short-sighted and narrow-focused, even with several practicing physicians in both houses. And with what is at stake, we cannot afford to be short-sighted and narrow-focused on reforming health care.

Glenn Beck fears for the President’s life

I watch the Glenn Beck program through the blog “The Right Scoop“. Today (January 20, 2010) he said something rather telling, and startling.

Embedded below is part 2 of the series of videos providing the show. Around shy of three minutes through the clip, Glenn mentions a blog post by Newsbusters.org in which far-left commentator Mike Malloy is quoted as saying this:

You crazy sons-of-bitches, you right-wingers. Do you not understand that the people you hold up as heroes bombed your goddamn country? Do you not understand that Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly are as complicit of the September 11, 2001, terror attack as any one of those dumb-ass fifteen who came from Saudi Arabia? Don’t you get that?

Read more about it here. They also have a link to the radio broadcast in which he says this.

It’s interesting that this person said that the Fox News commentators are “complicit” in the 9/11 attacks. To be complicit, they had to not only have had advance knowledge of 9/11, they also had to have been in a position to stop or interrupt the attacks and do nothing. In criminal law, that would make them accessories.

Give me a break.

Watch the full show here.

Go to about 3:54 on the video. You’ll find Glenn saying this:

Please pray for our Secret Service. Make sure that they do their job. Please, dear God, protect our President.

If I am interpreting what Mr Beck is saying correctly, he actually fears for the President’s life. I’ve watched his show, primarily whatever was made available through FoxNews.com, for much of the past year. I don’t think he would be saying something like this unless he actually had reason to believe the safety of the President of the United States could be compromised.

If this is indeed a fear of his, I certainly hope it is one that does not come to fruition.

Nothing happens at Internet pace

Tuesday January 19, 2010, in an upset victory, the Senate seat once held by John Kennedy and his younger brother Edward Kennedy went to a Republican – State Senator Scott Brown. Many in the political arena, especially the bloggers and commentators, saw this as a "referendum on health care", or a "41st vote" in the Senate, another check on the Democrat majority in Congress.

While it is certainly sobering to see the "super majority" in the Senate broken, one thing that is obvious is that most Americans, on all edges of the political spectrum, have not regained the perspective they so clearly need.

What do I mean?

Fourteen years ago in 1996, we saw the first presidential campaigns to feature web sites. Kansas Senator Bob Dole and former New York Congressman Jack Kemp ran on the Republican ticket with President Clinton and Vice Pres Gore running for re-election on the Democrat ticket. The Internet was moving into the mainstream, with the number of households with a computer and an Internet connection (albeit mostly dial-up at that time) increasing at a huge rate. The United States and the world was moving into the Internet age, and we started growing more impatient at the years grew on and we started becoming more tied to our digital lives.

Today you’d be very hard pressed to find someone without an e-mail address, and while a little easier, though not much, it would still be difficult to find someone without a Facebook profile or Twitter feed. Our society has become the epitome of "instant gratification", so much so that the people do not understand, even with almost a trillion dollars of spending earmarked in the US Treasury, why the economy has not only not improved, but has gotten worse since Obama was inaugurated one year ago this day.

The concept of something actually taking days, weeks, months, or even years has escaped most everyone today. Now if a problem cannot be corrected in minutes, let alone hours, we think there is something wrong with whomever is trying to make the corrections without realizing that perhaps the nature of the problem is the reason corrections won’t come quick.

Now Scott Brown is in a unique position, in that he has the potential to deliver on one "instant gratification" promise: stopping the massive health care bill from leaving Capitol Hill, assuming parliamentary tricks are not employed by Democrats.

And one lesson that all of Washington needs to learn is this: the Independents control the elections. You may have established party bases that you can rely on to make up a certain percentage of the vote, but you must still placate the independent majority.

Few incumbencies are like Edward Kennedy’s, going pretty much until death. Few incumbencies go until the person voluntarily decides to not seek re-election. Remember that.

To the rest of the American people, here is one lesson you need to learn: nothing happens at Internet pace. Let me give you an example.

There is an online game called Puzzle Pirates — I play occasionally and not nearly to the extent I once did. One aspect of the game seemingly unique to Puzzle Pirates is its open market economy. Prices are controlled by the economic theory of supply and demand — capitalism runs relatively free on Puzzle Pirates, though it is restricted by certain hard-coded rules within the game.

Within Puzzle Pirates one way to make money is by running a forage operation. Others come to forage for you at your operation, you pay them based on what they bring in, and you eventually sell what is foraged for a profit, assuming you can make it to your destination without getting intercepted. Running a forage operation is the epitome of patience. Profits will not come quick, and there is great expense to be made up front.

With patience and determination, things will pay off — for several months while I was unemployed, I ran arguably the largest forage operation in the game, reaping considerable profits and generating considerable wealth within the game.

But during that time I ran into a lot of people who tried to compete with me, failing miserably in the process, who thought that the forage operations were a great way to get rich. Done properly they are, but their fallacy was assuming they could get rich quick, and it doesn’t work that way. Like any business, my forage operation started out small, on one of the smaller ships in the game, and eventually grew to encompass several large ships in a kind of foraging armada.

I was patient.

And that is what we have lost in this country: patience. We now expect that things will happen at Internet pace. I’m sure there were those who thought that on Election Day 2008 or Inauguration Day 2009 things would suddenly change because Obama was elected. The only thing that changed that day was the person sitting as President of the United States. Many were newly unemployed that day, and many more, like me, were still unemployed for extended periods of time.

Since that Inauguration Day, however, the President and Congress have been trying to make things happen at Internet pace, and the rest of the world just doesn’t work that way.

And even the next election day people were counting down to 2010 and 2012. Obama was just elected, but people were not even willing to give him a chance — they were more than ready to see him gone, and could not wait for the opportunity to oust him from office. In 2006, if not 2005, we were seeing Democrats announcing their candidacy for President. Bush had been re-elected and many couldn’t wait to see him finally gone, as he was now prohibited by the Constitution from seeking the Presidency ever again.

Even this year many cannot wait for November. While those in Washington should be afraid about losing their jobs, the rest of the people need to be even more careful than before, fully vetting our candidates before going to the ballot box.

While many say that Brown’s election to the Senate should be a wake-up call to those in Washington to slow down, we all need a similar wake-up call. Nothing happens at Internet pace, and we all need to slow down and renew our patience.

The United States was founded by Christians

One thing that always irks me is when atheists use the argument “this country wasn’t founded by Christians”. And the one thing that irks me the most about these arguments, from either side, is how they always argue about the Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution. And the reason it irks me is because it makes it sound like this country didn’t exist in any form before the Constitution.

Okay, technically the United States didn’t exist before the American Revolution, but the colonies did. The foundation for this country was laid by those colonists as well, who were Christians. We just have a government that is supposed to be, by definition of the Constitution, religiously neutral.

Jamestown, Virginia, is recognized as the first successful colonization attempt of North America. Three ships, the Discovery, Godspeed, and Susan Constant, led by Captain Christopher Newport of the Virginia Company, established a settlement at Jamestown Island in the James River.

And guess what religion the crews of the three ships were. That’s right. They were Christians.

Even the majority of those who signed the Constitution were Christians, but that is beside the point. The reason the United States exists to begin with is because of the colonists who came over here and started successful colonies that grew into what would become the United States. And those colonists were Christians.

To say this country was not founded by Christians ignores the colonists who are the reason the United States exists at all. At the time the Constitution was written, there were other faiths than just Christianity in the United States, and those who wrote the Constitution recognized this.

The first Jews didn’t arrive in the New World until 1654, arriving in the already established colony of New Amsterdam, which would later become New York City.

Let me ask you this: was the contribution of the colonists not significant enough because they didn’t sign a piece of paper?

Oh, wait, they did.

The Mayflower Compact was signed by the Plymouth colonists in 1620. And the Mayflower Compact is recognized as the first constitution in the New World, though not a true constitution, and it was signed “In the Name of God, Amen”. And it begins “Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith…”

So to all persons who try to say that this country was not founded by Christians, you’re outright wrong. You cannot ignore the fact that the colonists, who are the reason the United States even exists, were Christians.

Oh but what about the Constitution? Okay, let’s go into this.

The majority of those who signed the Constitution were Christians. Of the total who attended the convention, 49 were a denomination of Protestantism, 3 were Roman Catholic (52 total). There were 55 delegates total. Plus how did the Constitution even come into effect?

It would not have mattered if the authors of the Constitution were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Pagans, atheists, or deists if it never went into effect. It would have just waned into history as another piece of paper that crumbled to dust. And even though it was ratified, it still does not matter in the least the religious affiliation of those who drafted the document.

But Constitution had to be ratified… by the States… by their legislatures – legislatures consisting of popularly elected members. And who elected those members? The majority of the populous, who were… Christian.

Ultimately the Constitution was ratified courtesy of the people of the United States. But it all started with the Jamestown settlement and the Plymouth Colony, both of which were founded by Christians.

Why is the pro-life movement going after contraception?

Back in November I watched a documentary on the pro-life movement in the United States called Unborn in the USA (Rent it on Netflix). It is nothing more than video footage of various interviews with those who are against abortion along with footage of demonstrations, rallies, and confrontations. On Netflix, I rated the documentary 3 stars out of 5.

One thing that is evident in the documentary is what those on both sides of the issue think will work in getting their point of view across to the point where it is the dominant point of view. It should be self-evident by now that shouting down your rival in an argument will not succeed, but aggravate.

I am what would be called “pro-choice”, only because I do not feel abortion should be proscribed by law. I do agree with “pro-life” organizations in that government money should not be subsidizing elected abortions. I certainly would like to see the downward trend in the per-year incidence of abortion continue, but along with that, I also want to see the downward trend in the per-year incidence of unwanted pregnancies continue.

I do not feel that abortion should be proscribed at all, actually. I feel that women who become unexpectedly pregnant should be educated on all available options – abortion included. But the education needs to be fair and balanced, providing information that is accurate instead of information blown out of proportion.

What many in the pro-life movement are doing is not education, but sensationalism. It is gaining them attention, but it is not producing the results they would like to see. In ironic contrast to the pro-life movement, the results the pro-life movement desire are being generated by some of the groups they most detest: family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood.

And family planning clinics are producing these results by going after the number one cause of abortion: unplanned, unexpected pregnancies.

By distributing birth control, allowing free and readily available access to condoms, and disseminating comprehensive information on female reproduction and pregnancy, family planning clinics are helping women to prevent pregnancy in the first place, which in turn reduces the number of abortions sought each year.

To accelerate this effort, many States through their Medicaid programs give women access to birth control, health exams, and counseling at little to no out-of-pocket cost.

Yet the pro-life movement is now turning their attention toward contraception, the very thing that is continuing to reduce abortion numbers.

“By outlawing contraception, you’re closer to outlawing surgical abortion. So if, as the pro-life community, you’re trying to outlaw surgical abortion but the court has told us its legal basis is founded on the necessity of abortion, shouldn’t the pro-life community begin to take a look at contraception? We’re trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, but the court is pointing us over here.”

— Matt Sande, Director of Legislative Affairs, Pro-Life Wisconsin 1

In 2005, Pro-Life Wisconsin pushed a bill that would have allowed pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraceptives the pharmacist believes could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus, forwarding a belief that pregnancy begins at conception, not implantation.1 This bill would, in short, allow a licensed pharmacist to refuse an order from a physician purely because the prescription alone might offend the pharmacist.

There have even been protests outside family planning clinics that do not even provide abortions. In Wausau, Wisconsin, pickets by pro-lifers, most of whom are Catholic, are apparently a daily sight outside that city’s family planning clinic.

The fight against contraceptives, however, is facing conflict from within, as other pro-life organizations do not feel that going after contraceptives is the right way to go. But it would be in the courtroom where they would face their biggest challenge.

In the landmark case Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 US 479 (1963), the Supreme Court of the United States overturned a Connecticut law that legally proscribed contraceptives by a 7-2 vote:

Any person who uses any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception shall be fined not less than fifty dollars or imprisoned not less than sixty days nor more than one year or be both fined and imprisoned. 2

The Court reasoned that the law, “in forbidding the use of contraceptives, rather than regulating their manufacture or sale, seeks to achieve its goals by means having a maximum destructive impact upon [a marital relationship].” (381 US at 485) The Court then put the nail in the coffin:

Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.

The Court in this decision chiefly applies the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Ninth Amendment basically says that just because a right isn’t specifically stated in the Constitution does not mean it does not exist. It is with this Amendment, among others, that have allowed the Supreme Court to declare “rights” that otherwise would likely have not been recognized. Griswold is the first case to declare an express right to privacy, albeit a right of marital privacy.

The decision is also uncharacteristically short. The decision itself is only 7 pages (381 US 480-486). But in this short decision, it basically puts a golden nail into the coffin of legally proscribing contraception.

The decision in Griswold, however, was limited only to married individuals. The ruling would be expanded in the 1972 case of Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 US 438, by a 6-1 ruling, striking down a Massachusetts law proscribing the distribution of contraception to unmarried individuals.

There have as of yet been no direct challenges to Griswold or Eisenstadt.

Other sources:

United States Supreme Court cases:

  1. Davidoff, Judith. (2005, August 1). “Abortion foes take aim at contraceptives“. The Capital Times. [] []
  2. General Statutes of Connecticut, 53-32 (1958 rev.) []

The Bill of Rights and Immigrants

Question: Does the Bill of Rights apply to immigrants?

Recently I’ve been getting into some interesting discussions with my cousin’s husband. Many of these discussions tend to involve abortion, as he is adamantly “pro-life”, but recently he made some comments regarding the Constitution and its applicability, or lack thereof, to non-citizens.

First, to say the Bill of Rights applies only to citizens of the United States is incorrect. Those who say this do not fully understand the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. But then again, this is not really any surprise.

The United States Bill of Rights is comprised of the first ten Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. To say they are “rights”, though, actually undermines the purpose of the Constitution, which is to establish a republican form of government, which Article IV of the Constitution requires.

It is called the Bill of Rights to mirror the British Bill of Rights of 1689, in which the people of England received in writing guarantees of certain rights by the King.

In the United States under the Constitution, the government grants no one their rights. You have them, and have always had them. They are inherent and inalienable.

Now if the Bill of Rights applied only to citizens, whether natural born or naturalized, then the government could be absolutely tyrannical toward immigrants. This means the government could:

  • arrest them up for no reason (a violation of Article I, Section 9 requirement for a writ habeas corpus)
  • arrest them if they say anything the government does not like (violating their First Amendment right to free speech)
  • seize their property without cause (a violation of both the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process)
  • torture them until they are inches from death (a violation of the Eighth Amendment)

Obviously none of this is occurring, because the government is indiscriminately restrained. Regardless of with whom the government is interacting, whether they be a citizen, legal or illegal immigrant, the government must act the same.

The Bill of Rights provides for further express limitations upon the government over what the Constitution provides. Originally they were interpreted to apply to the Federal government – the level ultimately established by the Constitution – but through the Fourteenth Amendment, they have been applied to all States as well.

Even the Supreme Court has interpreted the Bill of Rights as applying to everyone within the jurisdiction of the United States. In the case of Plyler v. Doe, 457 US 202 (1982), the Court found in a 5 to 4 majority that to deny children who are illegal immigrants a public education is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment unless the State could reasonably justify such discrimination.

In the case of United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 US 873 (1975), the Court ruled unanimously that to

allow roving patrols the broad and unlimited discretion urged by the Government to stop all vehicles in the border area without any reason to suspect that they have violated any law, would not be “reasonable” under the Fourth Amendment.

In other words, before the Border Patrol can detain individuals attempting to cross the border, they must have at a minimum reasonable suspicion that the individuals are attempting to enter or remain in the country illegally. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Any person who is in the United States, whether legally or not, is entitled to full rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are express limitations on our government, not licenses to citizens. They define the limited circumstances under which the government can do something to a person within her jurisdiction, regardless of whether that person is a citizen, legal resident, or illegal immigrant.

Does the Bill of Rights apply to non-citizens? The answer is an overwhelming Yes.

Follow-up: Please read the article “Revisiting the Constitution and non-citizens” for a more in-depth look at this topic.

With all this talk about H1N1, what is being missed?

Unfortunately H1N1 has claimed another life:

Article: “Kansas Man, 75, Dies From H1N1 Flu

And this recent death is in line with what I’ve been hearing about H1N1: if you’re in good health, you have nothing about which to worry. Save the vaccines for those at greatest risk.

Why are we a society so concerned about getting sick? It seems that in some households, children are inhaling more Lysol than oxygen. Have we lost touch with common sense? (Wait… on second thought, don’t answer that.)

Trust me, there are diseases out there that are much, much more troublesome than H1N1. Here’s my question: with all of this focus on H1N1, why are we not hearing anything about the rising measles problem in the United States? I guarantee you that measles is a much bigger problem than H1N1, and it’s a problem that is unfortunately growing.

In 1994 the World Health Organization declared that the United Kingdom no longer had an endemic strain of measles, which means that all cases of measles were the result of importation: someone contracting measles elsewhere and bringing it into the UK. The United States would receive a similar declaration 6 years later in 2000.

As a result of the declaration, vaccination of children with the MMR triple vaccine slowed to the point where health officials warned that chains of infection could now be sustainable. Further complicating matters regarding vaccination would the 1998 publication in the journal The Lancet of the since widely discredited study that supposedly showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Again, that study has since been widely discredited and the official consensus in the global medical community is this: the MMR vaccine does not cause nor aggravate autism.

As a result of misconduct and ethics violations related to the study, Andrew Wakefield has been stripped of his license to practice medicine in the United Kingdom and is completely discredited in the medical community. In 2004 several of the researchers linked to the Wakefield study would publish a retraction of their findings.

But the damage was done. Suspicions and fears would be confirmed in 2008, where it was declared by British health officials that a strain of measles was once again endemic in the British population, according to the British newspaper The Independent.

And the case isn’t looking good for the United States.

Between January through April 2008, the United States had more cases of measles through just that 4-month period than was seen for entire years between 2000 and 2007. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would report in the August 22, 2008, report of their MMWR publication that there were 131 reported cases of measles between from January 1 to July 31, 2008. In 7 months, the United States would have more than twice as many measles cases as was typically seen for an entire year.

I have not been able to confirm a total number of cases for the entire year 2008, and the current number of cases of measles for 2009 is not available. I have contacted the CDC to see if this information is available and I will post the response when I receive it.

Measles was once a major health concern, and at the current trend, it will be once again, unless it can be arrested before it grows out of control. At the current rate, the United States is on track to the same situation the UK is currently facing: an endemic strain of measles resident in the population.

Measles is the most infectious virus currently known, second only to smallpox (now extinct except for lab samples). A person who is not immune to measles has greater than a 90% chance of contracting measles when exposed to the virus. And a carrier who aspirates (cough or sneeze) will have created a cloud of measles virus that is viable for up to two hours.

With all of the focus on H1N1 and seasonal influenza, why is no one talking about this? Personally, what I’m hearing about measles concerns me more, because it is a symptom of a greater problem.

If you are a parent, make sure your children’s vaccines are current.

Maafa 21 – Quote-mining Darwin to forward a political agenda?

It’s not the first time it’s occurred…

But it’s pretty bad when I don’t have to see more than the first 10 minutes of the documentary Maafa 21 to know it’s likely full of crap. They quote-mine Charles Darwin, something until now I thought was typically the realm of the creationist, but thankfully they don’t bastardize the theory of evolution, only suggest it’s one more breeding ground for racism.

Anyway, here is a quote presented attributed to Charles Darwin, and mined from his work The Descent of Man, and Selections in Relation to Sex, published in 1871, not 1890 as the documentary contends (Darwin passed away April 19, 1882):

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world…The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state…and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

…and here is what Darwin actually says in his book (emphasis added to mark what was omitted):

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. ‘Anthropological Review,’ April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

So what is Darwin actually saying here? First of all, one must realize that Darwin is speaking in the language of a 19th century academic, so you cannot apply late 20th and early 21st century connotations to works written 120 years ago.

But to know exactly what Charles Darwin is saying, we need the quote in its full context (bold added to show the original quote from the documentary):

The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies–between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae–between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. ‘Anthropological Review,’ April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

They really left out a lot, didn’t they? Take a moment and read through it before I summarize it, and see if you agree with my summation.

Taken fully in context, Darwin’s words are talking about the evolution of life and man over time. He is addressing and responding to the criticisms of the theory of evolution, as it existed at the time he first published it and in the years immediately following, and the fact that the fossil record will never show a complete lineage of one species to another: the so-called “gaps” in the fossil record.

In the next paragraph, Darwin continues:

With respect to the absence of fossil remains, serving to connect man with his ape-like progenitors, no one will lay much stress on this fact who reads Sir C. Lyell’s discussion (19. ‘Elements of Geology,’ 1865, pp. 583-585. ‘Antiquity of Man,’ 1863, p. 145.), where he shews that in all the vertebrate classes the discovery of fossil remains has been a very slow and fortuitous process. Nor should it be forgotten that those regions which are the most likely to afford remains connecting man with some extinct ape-like creature, have not as yet been searched by geologists.

Again, Darwin is addressing his critics and the criticisms that the fossil record does not support his theory. This is one concern that many scientists today find themselves still trying to defend, despite the plethora of fossils that do, without any doubt, support a much more advanced version of evolutionary theory.

In fact, it’s been said that if Darwin were able to see the theory of evolution as it stands today, he would not recognize it, but he would, without a doubt, be completely mesmorized by it.

But one thing that is also without a doubt is that the quote that was mined from one of Darwin’s books had nothing to do with racism or advancing racism. It had everything to do with science, evolution, and addressing the endless supply of critics.

The speaker in the documentary also makes one big implication from the full title of Charles Darwin’s famous book The Origin of Species. The full title is this: On the Origin of Species, by means of Natural Selection; or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Their implication is that the title was shortened to avoid political issues.

This is partly true. The title was originally shortened in future editions because the original title is quite long. As the book and its ideas were discussed, it tended to be referred to by its better-known shorter title. Now as language changed over time, the shorter title became preferred as the use of the phrase “favoured races” certainly would have been controversial, and a scientific text explaining a theory has no place in political or social arenas.

One thing that few realize is that before negative connotations became associated with the word “race”, that word tended to be used interchangeably with either “species” or “breeds”. By the phrase “preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life”, Darwin means the same as another common interpretation of natural selection, “survival of the fittest”.

Further, the documentary tries to tie Darwin to eugenics, the bastardization of evolution by Darwin’s half-cousin Francis Galton. Eugenics is based on an argument, born in 1865 by Galton, that statistical analysis showed that moral and mental traits could be inherited (only partly true, according to more modern research) and that principles of animal breeding could apply to humans.

While Darwin agreed that compassion for the less fortunate, weak, and sick in society plays against natural selection and the population benefits natural selection provides, he also said that withholding such compassion and aid could endanger us further by “breeding away” (my words, not Darwin’s) the instinct of sympathy and our willingness to educate each other, two things which have, undoubtedly, advanced human civilization much faster and farther than the forces of evolution alone could have taken us.

If I can point out these falsehoods in the documentary even before it has lapsed 10 minutes, what else might I find if I were to analyze the entire 2:20 minutes of footage and commentary? Given just this, the rest of the documentary should obviously be taken with a grain of salt and a hurricane’s air of skepticism — i.e. research what they present and see how accurate it is for yourself.

Where are our priorities?

I’m wondering more and more where our priorities have gone. Look around and you will find…

…advisers telling individuals to not spend far beyond their means, as that is a surefire way to get into trouble, but we have a government which does this and more, and the people not only don’t question that practice, they call it “good”.

…individuals more concerned about whether they will have money today than whether they will have it tomorrow.

…individuals expecting someone, even the government, to be the insurer of last resort against their bad decisions.

…individuals more immediately concerned with the actions and views of others which have no bearing on their well-being than the actions of others that do.

…individuals feeling that their disagreements should result in the vacation of landmark Supreme Court rulings and new laws proscribing actions with which they disagree without fully examining the ramifications of such proscriptions.

…individuals referring to peaceful dissent and protest by millions of Americans as “illegitimate”, “astroturfing”, “anti-government”, yet violent protest that results in arrests, bodily harm, and property damage is called “legitimate”.

…lawsuits that result in 6- and 7-figure damages because individuals will not exercise self-restraint and personal responsibility.

…individuals and organizations blaming a particular scientific theory for all the ills of the world, while actively using deceitful and dishonest tactics to see the removal of said theory from public education for the preservation of “morality”.

…voters more concerned about whether a politician will pander to their particular political ideology than whether those same politicians will uphold and act only within the boundaries established by the Constitution.

Christopher Hitchens, in a lecture he gave before the University of Toronto, talked about how people, both Americans and Canadians alike, were willing to allow their personal freedoms to be eroded to avoid pissing off Muslims. In response to that observation, he asked a single, pointed question, “Where are your priorities, ladies and gentlemen?”

Pat Condell, another famous British atheist, famous for his uninhibited attacks on Muslims and Islam, has said in a video posted to YouTube on March 8, 2008, that we do not own the freedom we have, we are custodians of it and it is not ours to give away. It was earned for us with the blood and sweat of those who pre-date all of us.

Both men were talking about how we seem to be willingly giving up our freedom, and it is something that other parties are catering to and hoping will continue. We cannot let this happen.

We have much personal liberty and freedom, but with it comes the necessity of responsibility. There is no way around this. When you negate your own personal responsibility, you necessarily negate your own liberty. You cannot have one without the other.

You are responsible for your own liberty. So where are your priorities?

I’m really starting to hate Tuesdays

Here’s my typical route to work: US-169 SB transition to I-70 EB for a 1/4 mi before merging to US-71 SB en route to Bannister Rd. Typical travel time: 20 min on a good morning, 25 to 30 typically.

This morning: accident on US-169 SB before I-70, accident on I-70 EB before the US-71 transition, plus accident on I-35 SB around the new bridge. So my main route *and* alternate route were backed up… Luckily I was able to divert to MO-9 SB to avoid the 169 accident, but I couldn’t avoid the I-70 accident. Travel time: 45 min, and I was 10 min late for a meeting I was hosting.