All posts by Philosopher

No Fear of God In The Land

Friday December 14 will be remembered as one of the most horrific days in recent American history as one young man murdered twenty of the most innocent defenseless among us along with seven other adults.  Since that event I have read a number of analyses of the killings in Connecticut on Friday.  Some of them are good seeing the events as pure evil while others are way off base blaming circumstances.  (One of the better Christian responses using cultural data is the article by Michael Craven below.  Few others support the Christian world view with the type of data Craven uses). As most of you know I believe that the biggest cause of these horrific atrocities is the one I shared from the pulpit yesterday: There is no longer a fear of God in the land.  This is why suicide and murder occur so frequently.  No one believes anymore that upon death they will be accountable for their actions.  There is no respect for God and His Law.

Matthew 10:28 reads, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul, but fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.”  The fear of God restrains evil and without that fear then evil runs rampant. Murder and killing are not condemned as they should be thus creating a culture of violence.  When one destroys another human being created in the image of God, they are attacking a valuable intrinsically worthy being. Just as fear of the death penalty decreases murder, so should fear of Hell deter evil actions.  Without the fear of meeting a Holy, Righteous God who holds humans accountable for their actions then people are “free” to do the evil desires of their hearts. It is this lack of fear of God and His Law that has brought about the abortion culture of death.  God will bring about vengeance upon evil. Little did the young man who killed the children in Connecticut realize that the moment after he put the gun to his own head that he would find himself summoned before a Holy God who cannot look upon evil and find himself condemned for an eternity in Hell.  Like most in modern America he did not realize that God is “a consuming fire” and that he will not be mocked by self-righteous arrogant human beings.

In 2001 after the slayings of thousands of  Americans I  was publicly quoted as saying, I was afraid that God was withdrawing His protective hand over America because of its sin.  We have become too comfortable with violence, death and murder as explified by acceptance of increase of murders in our cities, indiscriminate bombing of children and the violent slaughter of unborn babies.  Restrictions on semi-automatic weapons or guards at school buildings will not eliminate the desire for violence coming from the human heart.  It will only be by a internal change in the human heart that begins with a healthy fear of God.  It is time for pastors and leaders in society to again preach God’s Law and His character of Holiness and Righteousness.

Click to see the article by S. Michael Craven


By Dr. Mark Hamilton, Professor of Philosophy at Ashland University, Ashland, OH

An Open Letter To Rep. John Boccieri

To the editor:

Though I address this letter to the editor, I am really addressing this to our 16th district congressman, Representative John Boccieri.  Congressman, it is well known that you first voted in opposition to the recently passed health care bill, but then shortly before the final vote changed your position and voted for this bill.  You have released some public rationale for your change, but since your vote was such a crucial vote in this very important decision affecting many of us in your district I am requesting that you publicly explain some things to your constituents.   Would you please address these issues?  I am sure many others share these questions and concerns:

  1. The administration is calling this health care bill a transition, what President Obama called a “fundamental changing of America” with more to follow.  Could you please explain philosophically what this means to you and how you want America to “fundamentally” be changed?

  2. In supporting this Bill, I assume you believe that health care is a fundamental right that is owed to every American, could you then explain what the basis for this fundamental right is since I do not see it in the Constitution or in Natural Law?

  3. Socialism is defined as central government control or oversight of economics, I’ve read and taught such socialists as Robert Owen, Marx, and Stalin and it looks like socialism to me; do you understand and accept it as socialized medicine, why or why not?

  4. Can you explain how this Senate version of the health care bill is a significant improvement over the one that you voted against in the House?

  5. Since you were a former state house representative how do you expect the financially strapped State of Ohio to pay for the loss of Medicare funding for Ohio that will occur with this Bill?

  6. The Senate version you voted for supports that the government should pay for abortions, that those of us who are pro-life should subsidize abortion.  Can we now assume that you support tax-payer funded abortion?  How do you reconcile that to your Roman Catholic faith?

  7. Physicians are divided on this bill.  Some reports say that as many as 30% of general practice physicians may resign their practices with the activation of this bill.  Can you explain to us how we can increase and improve medical care when there will be more patients and fewer general practice physicians?

  8. Section 52.10 of the Health Care Bill has a provision in it that allows the government to establish a “ready reserve” private army.   Why is this hidden in a health care bill?  As a person with a military background do you really support the establishment of a new private army?

  9. The health care bill has inserted a segment into it that removes the oversight of student loans from the banks into the direct hands of the government.   There are good reasons on both sides of this issue.  The question is, why do you support this hidden in a health care bill without permitting any transparent public debate on the issue?

Thank you for your kind attention to these issues.

Mark Hamilton.

Dr. Hamilton is an associate professor of philosophy at Ashland University where he has taught for 28 years.  He is also the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative at Ashland University.  He currently serves as the board chairman of the Institute for Principled Policy

HEALTH CARE: A Biblical Critique – part 1

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series HEALTH CARE: A Biblical Critique

Dr. Mark Hamilton is  Chairman of the Board of the Institute For Principled Policy, Professor of Philosophy Ashland University and an Elder for Providence Church

Health care is dominating the news and our culture.  It is also apparent that most people want all Americans to be treated fairly and compassionately and that the current costs of health care have burdened many and threaten this desire for fairness.  But the current proposed health care bill presents numerous reasons for concern and there are specific aspects of the bill which are wrong and morally unacceptable.

God cares about our health. The Bible refers to the words heal, healer, healed, health, healthy at least 169 times.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.”  We should take care of our bodies as service to God.  Jesus came to heal and redeem, and ultimately we must understand that all healing comes from God and is dependent upon Him.  Jesus alone is our healer.  He came to make us well and bring life.

God cares about our Laws.  Isaiah 10:1 says, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees….” But how do we know an unjust law?  As Christian I believe in the “sufficiency of scripture.”  This means that scripture is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”  Since this is so we must look to Scripture as the supreme standard to evaluate the proposed government takeover of health care. The only standard by which any one can really evaluate any laws is by the standard of Scripture.  In this analysis I will evaluate the proposed Health Care Bill by the standards of Scripture and particularly by the Standard of God’s Law, the Ten Commandments.

The proposed health care bill builds on the modern American trend of statism. Statism is when power is centralized and located in the state not in the people.   In statism, a person’s life and work belong to the state.  For the past 150 years America has become gradually more nationalized in its approach toward government with the state taking more and more control over economic planning and policy including the lives of its citizens.  The American Founding Fathers understood the tendency of governments to move in this direction of restricting freedom so they implemented means to block that movement.  They also understood power ultimately rests in God and that all nations rise and fall by the authority of God.  They often acknowledged the sovereignty of God.  The Declaration of Independence even states, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge our Lives, Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.”  They understood that God, not the state, society, class, or church is our security.  God alone is ultimately sovereign and all power and authority rests in Him.  Furthermore only God can be trusted with power.  Human power and freedom is always a threat or danger because of sin.

Because of the effects of sin, whenever God’s sovereignty is reduced, then humans or human institutions step forward and fill that vacuum. For example in theology when God’s supremacy is reduced then individual human authority intervenes and results in Arminian theology and a reduction in God’s work of grace in salvation.  Understanding God’s sovereignty properly leads to an understanding of the limited power and authority of humans and human institutions.  The American Constitution created a government of limited and enumerated powers with a separation of powers because the Founders and Authors understood the nature of God’s sovereignty and the dangers of human autonomy and power.  In this formula no man or department exercises all the power of even a limited government.  God alone is to be trusted with power.  This type of Federalism is based on a presbyterian form of corporate church government with a plurality of leaders and with no monopoly of jurisdiction.  The Christian should understand the need is to fragment and limit political power because of sin so it cannot threaten the lives and liberties of the people.

Statism is the modern idolatry of the state.  We must understand that the nationalization of Health Care violates the First Commandment which exclaims, “Thou shall have no other gods before me.”  Growing statism makes the state into a deity.  During the medieval periods ecclesiolatry was responsible for much of the world’s suffering.  When God’s sovereignty was reduced prior to the Reformation in Europe, the church emerged as the sovereign entity and an ecclesiocracy was established as the church ruled over the state.   The situation is now reversed.  It is now this crossing of the state into the realm of the Church which has caused the suffering of the 20th century.  “All modern dictators—Communist, Facist, or disguised—have at least one thing in common.  They all believe in social security, especially in coercing people into governmentalized medicine” stated economist Melchoir Palyi in 1949 in Compulsory Medical Care and the Welfare State (Chicago) (quoted from the November 2009 The Trinity Review) .

Here then is a second form of idolatry as the state usurps the role of the Church in its quest for sovereignty. We could say it violates the tenets of separation of church and state causing the state to enter into the realm that is the Church’s.  Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, Lenin and Stalin of the USSR, Salazar of Portugal, Mussolini of Italy, Franco of Spain, Yoshito and Hirohito of Japan, Peron of Argentina, Castro of Cuba, Mao of China, and Hitler of Germany all were autocrats and all were advocates of National Health Care (November 2009 The Trinity Review).

Virtue must be voluntary. It is not the role of government to increase the virtues, “Render to God what is God’s.” The government must give opportunity for virtuous men to act appropriately, to get out of their way.  American generosity is the consequence of Christianity and capitalism.  Compulsory charity is an absurdity like involuntary volunteerism.  The state cannot love; It cannot force compassion.  Its role is to wield the sword and punish evil-doers.  Get the state out of the affairs of the Church.  To refuse to do so is to commit idolatry.

Observations on the Healthcare Summit

By Dr. Mark Hamilton

Due to my own medical issues I load up my teaching on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a Tuesday night class. This keeps Thursdays free for medical appointments. This meant that I was fortunately (or maybe unfortunately?) able to take in the televised spectacle of the health care summit with President Obama entertaining the leaders from the Senate and House of Representatives in mortal verbal combat last week. This short expose’ will be my personal reflective thoughts on the day. Be reminded that due to my own illness, I read and reflected on the entire bill last summer and have been judiciously following the debates and discussions. Regarding this recent summit, I have been careful not to listen to many “post-game” pundits so that I can attempt to give my own untainted response to the nefarious activities of that day.

First, the sessions, especially the morning one was a good introduction to the health care debate. The primary issues were revealed and the ground clearly staked out by each side. The Democratic position was first laid out by the President followed by a clear eloquent Republican response by Lamar Alexander and Tom Coburn. After hearing their reply anyone who says the Republicans do not have a proposal for health care is badly mistaken. These men put forward specific Republican plans.

Second, the morning session, while accomplishing nothing in terms of resolution was a great educational time. My wife who understands many of the issues but who has not studied the bill in depth like I have was very attentive to much of the morning session because of the striking philosophical differences revealed.

Third, obviously President Obama was trying to find common points of agreement. Each time a Republican point would be made he would try to restate the discussion and frame it in a way that minimized the differences and magnified the agreement. I now know what Mr. Obama’s real calling is, a professional facilitator. For those of you who have been to professional planning sessions you know what I mean. These are people who are blind to disagreement and violate the law of non-contradiction by seeing all sides as part of the same side. I suspect his plan is to use this grasp at common ground as fodder to attempt to push through his bill while publicly saying the Republicans agree with much of its content.

Fourth, if the summit accomplished one great deed it was revealing the obvious differences in the sides. The Democrats want government to oversee the health care industry and to regulate it wherever possible while the Republicans want more freedom and less government control. Because there are some points of agreement, some will be persuaded to think the two sides are not far apart. They are completely polarized because they have different world views.

Fifth, the Republicans at the summit were much more eloquent and succinct in their points than the Democrats were. Senators Alexander and Coburn, and Representatives Ryan and Cantor were all very eloquent and persuasive; none of the Republicans looked confused or uncertain. I was very impressed at how fluent and philosophically consistent these Republicans were. In the past decade I have been quite critical of many of the leading Republican because of their pragmatic unprincipled approach to governing. That was not observable on Thursday. Democratic Senator Reid looked like a weasel as he denied the concept of reconciliation while networks were showing recordings of him and other Democrats mentioning the idea over the past few months. His denial of reconciliation made him look like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar saying to his mother that he was not going to eat any cookies. Speaker of the House Pelosi spoke as she always does, irrationally and haphazardly. If I ever hear of another liberal calling Palin dumb while supporting the mindless idiocy of Pelosi, I will pull my hair out. The Democrats must have used twice the time as the Republicans to say less than half of the content.

Sixth, Obama himself tried to be conciliatory and at times it worked. But his disdain for the Republicans obviously manifested itself in his rebukes of McCain and Cantor and the way he wanted to respond to each Republican directly after they spoke. Mr. Obama is the most defensive president I’ve ever seen. I’m sure he lectured and cajoled the Republicans for more time during the summit than all the combined speeches of all the Republicans.

Seven, finally it became obvious that the central issue is one of statism. The Democrats believe in it and hold fast to its tenets. Though some Republicans have been statists, like the Bushes and McCain, the emerging Republican leaders who were spokesmen at the summit are moving away from this outdated, idolatrous position. Healthcare is drawing the line in the sand and the summit painted this line in florescence green.

Random Thoughts on Socialism

TFT1One of the effects of the downturn in the economy is the decrease in divorces.  From 2007-2008 there were 300 fewer divorces in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland).  It’s also been hypothesized that this occurs because the financial challenges presented to families force them to converse more and possibly helps them to restore communication and trust.  Should we look to see the divorce rate rise as the economy rebounds?  If so, does this mean that we should pray for a greater economic recession and failure so that families might be saved?  Oh well, never mind.  I suspect that Congress will remove this option from us.  I’ve just heard that they are proposing a bill that would bail out the divorce lawyers who are suffering the loss of business, so that couples who want a divorce but who cannot economically afford one can get the needed divorce.  After all, we all know that there is a right to divorce.  Pardon my sarcasm.

I want to commend my Democratic congressman, John Boccieri.  He voted his conscience, not the party line in voting against the “Pelosi” Health Care Bill.  Afterwards, his public comment was that it was too expensive to support.  I agree, though there are many more problems than that, including the fact that philosophically it moves the United States closer and closer to a socialist and authoritarian governmental structure.  The question this expense rationale presents, however, for Congressman Boccieri is this:  How can the Health Care Bill be considered too costly or too expensive when you voted for the Cap and Trade Bill?  Why wasn’t the Cap and Trade Bill also considered too expensive for you?

I blame the educational system of America for the current crisis in the health care debate.  The American people cannot recognize socialism when they see it.  Prior to the 2008 election I wrote that Obama is a socialist, but with his support for the banking bailout McCain proved himself to lean in that direction as well.  More and more I hear people regurgitating the theme that capitalism is the cause of the economic problems.  If people knew history, they would know that this is an echo of Karl Marx.  Educated people know that socialism is absolutely devastating to a culture.

The other night I was lecturing to a class about postmodernism and the class was reading Os Guinness’ book Time for Truth.  The book has on its cover the unforgettable picture of the young man boldly confronting the row of military tanks in Tiananmen Square.  As I was pointing out the picture one of the young men in my college class said to me, “I was born on that day.”  And it immediately struck me how important it is to teach our young people an accurate understanding of history.  They don’t know what happened in Tiananmen Square, they don’t know Viet Nam, and many of us have forgotten how tens of millions were murdered, executed and destroyed by the Socialist regimes of Mao, the Soviets especially under Stalin, and the Nazis.  Socialism inevitably leads to conformity, intolerance, and totalitarianism.  History unquestioningly confirms this.

Speaking of freedom, this week we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall separating Germans, Berliners, and families from one another.  It’s still hard to fathom and I’ve walked through Checkpoint Charlie.  Ask the young people you know whether they know why the Wall was constructed and see what they say.   In most cases they do not.  They have not been taught that it was built not to keep people out, but to keep people in, to keep people from freedom, to keep them from escaping to freedom.  This is socialism.  This will be the consequence of the health care bill and is the same philosophy which says that those who do not have health insurance will be arrested and either jailed or fined as the already passed congressional health bill proposes

The Biggest Winners and Losers from Ohio’s Election

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series 2009 Election Issues

Voting MachineWith this now completed election it is time to reflect on who the biggest winners and biggest losers in Ohio were.  By this we do not want you to rant and rave but to put forth a reasoned perspective on who you believe gained the most and who lost the most on November 3.  Try to remain focused on Ohio issues and politicians, including your own local issues, and away from national politics in this discussion.  Don’t just regurgitate the talking heads who are proclaiming the Republicans won and Obama lost.  For example, let me proceed first with my opinions.

I believe the biggest winner in Ohio was Dan Gilbert and his associates.  Gilbert, who amassed a fortune through his quick loans operation and who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers professional basketball team, fronted the Ohio Casino initiative which narrowly won.  Gilbert and his associates will now have a legally constituted monopoly on casino gambling in Ohio.  The fact that the citizens of Ohio endorsed this idea of granting a few people control over this industry boggles my mind.  My reaction has nothing to do with the morality or immorality with gaming but with the control, opportunity, and money granted by Ohioans to a select few through a constitutional amendment.  This is outrageous and deplorable.  Quite obviously the biggest winner in Ohio was Dan Gilbert, the billionaire who will now along with his associates be able to reap additional billions each year from the willing naïve sacrificial citizens of Ohio.

But who lost the most?  There were many losers:  the public school systems, the governor of Ohio, those opposing state issues 2 or 3, but who lost the most?  Many lost opportunities; many lost money; and some even lost their seats of power.  But did anyone lose more than any of these?  Let me put forward my opinion and we want to hear yours.

I have always been a supporter of law enforcement.  I address police officers as “sir” and taught my children to do so as well.  When law enforcement supporters have called or written for donations or were selling tickets for fund-raisers, I willingly forked forth the bucks realizing I could never do enough or support them enough.  To me law enforcement officials have been the least appreciated and the most under-respected servants in society.  But no more!  From my vantage point the biggest loser in Ohio was the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police).  They lost their integrity and my respect.  Time after time I was bombarded on the TV by Tipton’s endorsement of the state amendment for legalized casinos.  How much money did the FOP pay for this plethora of commercials?  What are they receiving in return?  The law enforcement agencies are receiving a great deal of money from the profits of the gaming industry and this appears like a pay-off to me.

More disappointing to me than the passage of issue 3 and the amending of the Ohio Constitution to permit a legal monopoly on casinos is the support of this monopoly by a law enforcement agency that should understand the value of the Constitution, the seriousness of a Constitutional Amendment, and the essential philosophical danger of endorsing a monopoly.  The one virtue that those in law must possess is impartiality.  The support of this amendment by the FOP demonstrates partiality to me. Formal support of this amendment by the FOP seemingly places the gambling industry and the law enforcement agencies into the same bed together.  Does this disturb any of you?

As close as the vote was on Issue 3, it is quite possible that the endorsement by the FOP and the extent of the publicity generated by the FOP was just enough to get this amendment passed.  This will make it difficult for me to ever address an officer of the law as “sir” and to teach my grandchildren that they should respect these officers since I now know the truth…they can be bought off like anyone else.  The FOP won, but from my vantage point they lost their soul and their integrity and what loss could be greater?

IPP invites you to enter into this discussion on Ohio’s biggest winners and biggest losers.  If you are not registered, then please do so by registering and commenting in our Forum.

“NO” On Ohio Issue 1

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series 2009 Election Issues

Voting MachineIssue one should be a “no-brainer”.  It authorizes $200 million dollars from the State of Ohio coffers to be distributed to Veterans of the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq Conflicts.  This money would provide Ohioans who fought in these “wars” $100 per month of service , not to exceed $1000, while  soldiers stationed in other locations during these conflicts could receive $50 per month for months served, not to exceed $500.

These would be bonuses from the people of Ohio to show appreciation to those from Ohio who served.  It would also offer a $5000 death benefit to the families of soldiers killed in the line of duty.  This would continue practices established after previous wars and conflicts.   This is a quite appropriate action.

We owe those who fight on our behalf.  We are thankful for their service and appreciate their unselfish service.  The only trouble is that this money would be raised by bonds and would need to be paid back by the State to those who purchase the bonds.  And the State of Ohio does not have this money! It would need to be borrowed money.

How can the State of Ohio justify going into more debt?  And though IPP strongly supports the American military and appreciates the service of Ohio’s veterans, we do not believe that Ohio should make this type of commitment at this time without having the money in hand while knowing that the State would not be able to pay off its bonds from a State surplus.  Therefore though we support the sentiment of this amendment and support the military, but we believe the State of Ohio cannot pledge itself to this type of financial obligation.

Therefore we do not believe that this is the right time for such an action.  The State of Ohio is so desperate for funding that is relying upon legal gambling to rescue it from its financial dire straits.  IPP therefore proposes that this action be delayed.  So Vote No on Issue I.

We also propose an alternative:  that the State open a private account that it would oversee and that 100% of the proceeds go directly to these veterans divided equally among them and that this fund be an open fund contributed to on a voluntary basis by the citizens of Ohio.  This way the benefactors of the bravery or these soldiers, the citizenry, can tangibly and personally say “thank you” and that the State of Ohio would not risk further financial obligation and debt.  We believe this is the appropriate alternative to this bill and IPP pledges the first $500.00 into this account if this bill is voted down and the alternative voluntary account is established as a different option.   Then the State could run public service announcements to generate funding for this account while virtuous citizens could demonstrate their appreciation by voluntarily donating their resources directly into this fund.

Obamacare: An Analysis


I’m fifty-six and most of my life I have been unconcerned with medical issues because of good health.  I was a jock, was never seriously injured and took my health for granted.  During the summer of 2007 I began to get weary and put on weight, so I eventually went to the hospital.  l was immediately admitted and diagnosed with genetically-caused liver failure.  In September 2007 I was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic and in November I had a liver transplant.   Over the five months in the Clinic, I incurred four major infections including E-coli, MRSA Staff, C-diff, and Pseudomonas along with Pneumonia.  I was on dialysis, had a heart attack, had a major internal bleed, suffered blood clots including one which has left me permanently blind in my right eye and was reduced to 120 pounds.

Our first hospital bill was for nearly half a million dollars and total costs for my care and expenses came closer to a million than half a million dollars. Needless to say, I am now extremely interested in health care issues and medical costs. I have excellent medical insurance through my job but had not paid close attention to the details of the coverage for years, though I knew I had pretty good coverage.  Fortunately nearly all of my bills were covered by this insurance and payment of the nearly ten thousand in expenses not covered by my insurance was generously assisted by friends in Ashland, the Ashland University community, and my Providence Church family.

This personal medical crisis motivated me to read the entire House of Representatives thousand plus page health care bill proposal.  I’d heard and read numerous analyses, both pro and con, by medical professionals, journalists, and Congressmen, but I needed to see for myself.  The following are some of my impressions of the bill.

The Proposed Health Care Bill

This bill is lengthy and boring with technical language making it extremely difficult to follow especially if one is not versed in the legal nuances of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  I’m a professional philosopher with the skill to decipher challenging reading, but this bill makes Aristotle and Kant look like a piece of cake.  It will take bureaucrats years to explain and apply the intricacies of this bill and I doubt if more than a few Congressmen could even follow the train of thought.

The bill causes one to realize that we already have a large government controlled health care program called Medicare.  The majority of this new bill is amendments to Medicare leading to a major expansion and overhaul of its system.

One of the legitimate roles of government is to protect its citizens.  All I want from government is for it to protect me from those who might rip me off.   This bill has elements which fulfill that function.  It protects whistleblowers who report abuses of the system.  It attempts to bring justice by reducing disparities in already established government health care including racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities.  It provides translators to communicate about health services for those citizens (and for noncitizens) with poor English.  It reduces paper-tracking by creating standardized electronic administrative transactions.

The bill is concerned about improper relationships between physicians and distributors of covered drugs.  To reduce fraud there is close monitoring of physician owned hospitals.  This overhaul includes revising rebates for prescription drugs.  It increases inspection reports on nursing homes and more safeguards on hospice programs.  It sets up a consumer website and an improved complaint process that should improve quality control.  It enforces repayments of Medicare overpayments.  Many of these seem to be protections for the patient and society which are good.  Yet it fails to address the central issues about these programs; they are under federal management and are running out of money.  Remarkably the new bill only adds to their problems by allocating more centralized authority and more money to broke programs.

Therefore, one should be skeptical whether a government run system (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) that is going broke should be the model and foundation for a new expanded societal-wide program.  Their economic failure should warn us about the dangers of combining government and health care.

Ten Important Observations

Below are ten major observations I have:

  1. The striking realization that most comes to mind when reading this bill is the massive allocations of funds to all of the new bureaucratic layers and innovations this bill sets up.  This bill allocates billions of dollars, but there is little said about gathering funding for all these projects.  The only mention of funding is the new 1% tax on those making 350,000-500,000, 1.5% for 500,000 to 1 million, and above 1 million is 5.4%.  This whole process seems forced down our throats without any thorough-going cost analysis or plan.

  2. I appreciated and loved my doctors at the Cleveland Clinic and most of them were international.  My lead transplant surgeons were Italian and Irish assisted by fellows who were Malaysian and Japanese.  My hepatologist is Lebanese and nephrologist is Indian.  They are all world class, brilliant, and great communicators.  Why are they all practicing in the United States?  I am sure there are numerous reasons such as great hospitals, fantastic training and research facilities, a wide-range of opportunities including freedom to practice their specialties in the best health care system in the world and make excellent salaries.  I am afraid that if we cap salaries, establish fee limits as in Social Security and Medicare, and alter the system then these fantastic doctors will no longer want to practice medicine in the U.S.  They will have better options in other locations and our health care will suffer.

  3. It allows the private insurance companies to continue in business but they must comply to the regulations and standards set upon them by the government as they must submit to health coverage participation requirements.  This will restrict freedom and the free market.  The next three points expose some of the new regulatory structure.

  4. The role of Secretary of Health and Human Services will be greatly increased, becoming one of the most powerful domestic cabinet positions.  This position will have unbridled power to establish medical and health policy.  Some of the responsibilities of this office will be to control billions of dollars of allocations, provide lists of public health options, exclude certain providers from participation, exercise regulatory power as necessary, determine criteria for quality of care, oversee nursing home care, identify services which are misvalued using specific criteria they create, oversee state loans for medical education and establish a Public Health Workforce Corps along with a means of distributing these people through the country.

  5. Page 41 says, “There is hereby established a Health Choices Commissioner…who shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate” (though it does not say confirmation).   Some of the responsibilities of this Commissioner will be data collection, audits, establish uniform standards for insurance, and oversee exchange of programs.   The Commissioner will appoint an ombudsman to deal with complaints and grievances.  This Commissioner may terminate contracts and determine affordability credit eligibility.  The Commissioner will determine whether the person is Medicaid eligible, determine the income based tiered limits of funding, shall specify the cost sharing reduction in cost sharing reduction amounts, be able to determine the cost effectiveness of various health procedures, and adjust the cost of living to reflect geographic differences.  The Commissioner shall establish uniform marketing standards all ensured Quality Health Benefit Plans shall meet and establish the process for review of denied claims.  In summary this person will have the authority to reframe the private and public options.

  6. A Health Care Benefits Advisory Committee will be established and chaired by the Surgeon General.  It will recommend covered benefits for each essential, enhanced, and premium plan.  It is composed of nine who are not federal employees and appointed by the President and nine who are not federal employees who are appointed by the Comptroller General .  They will recommend initial benefits standards, including covered treatments and levels of cost sharing and give recommendations to the Secretary.

  7. Pages 769-770 speak about family planning and who qualifies.  Nothing is mentioned directly about abortion.  Since the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976 federally funded abortions have been excluded in America, however, this new bill will trump the Hyde Amendment and if the Secretary of Health and Human Services includes abortion as part of covered health care then funded abortions will again return.  If this remains in a passed bill, true pro-life supporters may need to consider civil disobedience and withhold their taxes.

  8. Advanced care planning is advocated which will include Living Wills, end of life services being explained by a practitioner, and counseling a person whether to permit life sustaining treatment, including use of antibiotics, hydration, and nutrition.  Every five years a counselor will reevaluate a person’s choices.  End of life care options will be included in the “Medicare and You” booklet Handbook.  This opens the door for counseling in the direction of euthanasia and  pressure on the elderly and infirm to equate value of life with quality of life.

  9. There is no doubt with this new massive intrastructure and funding for a public health option it will crowd out choice and the private options.  This will remove the power to make decisions about health care out of our hands.  With that development health care will certainly be rationed.  Of course health care is already rationed through Medicare which consumer reporter John Stossel calls a “Ponzi Scheme.”  Paternalism will replace liberty.  Does it make sense to allow government control through this Commissioner when we have given government oversight to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and all these programs are either broke or going broke?  Is there any rational basis to trust government with this responsibility?

  10. The first nine points are significant but the most fundamental unearthing is the quantity of power placed not only in the hands of government but specifically in the hands of the executive branch of government.  The President is given authority to appoint a Commissioner of Health care.  In conjunction with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, this person is given oversight, with a board, over the whole health area.  In other words, they have governance over 1/6th of the American economy under the directive of the President where there is no congressional oversight but only accountable to the President.  Not only is there a socialization of healthcare, but this places another large percentage of the economy directly in the executive branch of government.

Further Questions

There are sections of this bill which leave me with more questions than answers. What do they mean by a heath care excise tax on those employers who refuse to offer benefits?  Why is there a separate section specifically on California?  What are the implications of creating a National Health Care Work Force or National Health Service Corps?  Is this Corps only for those who have obligated service as the repayment for a government loan for medical education?  What will the effects of the bill be on MEDICARE ADVANTAGE?  How will they actually compute quality of performance?  What is a Telehealth Advisory Committee?  What really will Medicare and Medicaid look like after all of this restructuring?

Near the end of the bill there is an Advisory Committee on Health Workforce Evaluation and Assessment, how will this affect businesses and what power will they have other than the allocation of funds?  What is meant on p. 859 when it speaks of 600 million for medical prevention and wellness and how is this included in the Cap and Trade bill (p. 815)?   What will be the government philosophy in the school based health clinics?  Though I am sympathetic  to incentives for those who work as health care providers in underserved areas is this a legitimate role for government to give these incentives?  On p. 407 there are grants to those providers of services who are community organizers, would this be for ACORN and like organizations? Please spell out more clearly what is meant on p. 589 where civil monetary limitations are determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  What is the Health Care Comparative Effectiveness Research Trust Fund and its ability to disperse 90 million dollars and increasing each successive year ?


I watched the Obama press conference on the health bill.   It was one of the most boring hours of television I’ve ever watched.  The president’s answers were obfuscated.  I kept asking myself, “what does this do for me and my family?” but he never answered this question.  I learned nothing, except the President has not read the bill.  He was often incoherent, answering a single question with five minutes of blather.  I don’t think he understands the basics.  All he cares about is the transfer of power from the people to the government.  Even Palin’s resignation speech looked like a coherent speech in comparison.  Now I know why.  He doesn’t understand the bill…all he understands is the desire for government control and oversight.

During the ’08 campaign I heard Obama referred to as a socialist by a McCain supporter.  McCain was supporting socialist ideas as well, especially in his support of Bush’s bailouts of the banking industry.  The more accurate term that came to my mind while reading this document was Totalitarianism.  Totalitarianism is “a society in which the ideology of the state has influence, if not power, over most of its citizens.”    This is exactly what we see happening.   According to Karl Loewenstein, a totalitarian regime “attempts to mold the private life, soul, and morals of citizens into a dominant ideology.  The… ideology penetrates into every nook and cranny of society” (Wikipedia).   Totalitarian states tend to condemn and silence outsiders; they attempt to establish control over their subjects and are often lead by a charismatic leader.  Those who passively submit to Totalitarianism seem to be willing to sacrifice freedom for security.

During the campaign for the presidency, candidate Obama adamantly stated that the Bush administration was guilty of centralizing power in the executive branch of the government.  This was an accurate and astute observation and evaluation.  He went on to add that one of the changes he would make would be to alter this development.  The hypocrisy is that as president, Obama has rapidly and intensively increased this trend through the bailout of banks, through the stimulation package, the takeover of the auto industry, the cap and trade bill, and the appointment of czars unaccountable to Congress.   These will be dwarfed by the passage of this proposed Health Care Bill.   One sixth of the economy will come directly under the auspices of the Executive Branch of Government, the Presidency.  Will you sit back and idly watch as freedom is sacrificed for the appearance of security?

Dr. Mark Hamilton, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Ashland University, Board Chairman of the Institute for Principled Policy

The Spending Habits of Congressman Boccieri

CongressI read with great interest Congressman Boccieri’s explanation for his support for the “Cap and Trade Bill” in the July 8 Ashland Times-Gazette.  Congressman Boccieri is a first-term Democratic Representative for the 16th Congressional District which covers Canton, Wooster and Ashland.   It is very disappointing that he supported this bill against the expressed wishes of many of us living in his congressional district.  I know many who wrote him requesting a “No” vote on this bill.  This bill is not in the best interests of the people living in North Central Ohio.  It will cause jobs to continue to leave Ohio.  Even though this bill was generally supported by the Democratic Party, it was voted against by many Democratic congressmen from Midwestern industrial states.  They understood something that Congressman Boccieri did not:  the potential demoralizing effects of this bill on our region.  This is why many of us thought Representative Boccieri would also join the vote against this bill.  It passed because of overwhelming support of congressmen in the Sunbelt states and a minority of Midwestern congressmen who betrayed their constituents.  It should be noted that Congressman Boccieri publicly stated (as reported in the Canton Repository) in April that he would not support this bill.  This makes his change of mind a great disappointment and seems quite erratic.

It appears like Boccieri was bought off at the last minute by the availability of $30 billion loan fund for businesses.  What small businesses can currently afford another loan?  He argues this bill will not increase taxes, but it will indirectly raise taxes through increasing carbon emission costs and utility costs affecting all businesses that will necessarily pass the costs on to customers and raise everyone’s utility rates.  In his comments in the Times-Gazette article Representative Boccieri maintained that he wanted one thing changed in the Senate version:  the removal of a provision calling for a national building code that would place strict environmental requirements on homes prior to their sale.  This will cause all of you to make certain your home is environmentally suitable prior to your selling it.  It is hypocritical to say one opposes this expensive overwhelming section of the bill and want the Senate to adjust it, yet to vote for it in Congress.  If he feels so strongly about this part of the bill he should have taken a concerted stand of conscience and voted against the entirety of the bill unless the change was made.  When one votes for the entirety of a bill, one supports the bill.  This will really stimulate the housing market by raising the costs to sell and buy homes (sarcasm).  Has Representative Boccieri become a Pelosi puppet?

It is likely this bill will cause more manufacturing jobs to leave Ohio and the United States, increase costs for all Americans, boost utility rates,  weaken the housing market, and will not improve the environment or decrease global warming , especially since emerging economic nations like China and India have chosen not to participate in emissions reduction.  Forty-four Democratic Congressmen voted against this bill; Congressman Boccieri should have made it forty-five.

This bill was promoted as a partial solution to global warming and our dependence on foreign oil.  Environmental issues should be a concern for all of us.  The evidence for global warming is mixed; I’ve read scientific reports on both sides of the issue and believe it has become too politicized for most to really know the truth.  It is, however, important to be good stewards and personally leave our environment in better shape than we found it for future generations, but these are personal moral responsibilities.  But if Congressman Boccieri supports global warming issues so strongly we need an investigation into his own lifestyle, including what make of automobile he drives and what his utility bills are.  Is he an environmentally good example for us all to follow?  A good leader with strong convictions will consistently live out his views and start with himself prior to putting his values on others.  I believe in personal stewardship of the environment and want to do all that I can to make the environment better as a good use of what God has graciously given me and to leave my personal environment better off than I found it for my children and grandchildren.  There certainly must be a basic right to clean water and clean air.  This is why I’ve had solar panels for a decade (for which I could receive no tax exemptions during the Clinton era) and had an efficient log home built two decades ago.  We should understand the moral obligation for a safe livable environment for our children but it should be done incrementally with major tax cuts for environmentally friendly purchases to stimulate the economy and improve the environment not by taxing us for environmental usages.

Congressman Boccieri also voted for the 800 billion stimulus bill which has not yet stimulated the economy (and doubtfully ever will) as the unemployment rates continue to climb.  This so-called stimulus is being used to plug financial holes in State budgets, not create the long-lasting solid jobs needed.  This bill was also rushed through so it could bring immediate results which have not occurred and there has been a failure to provide adequate oversight to the spending.  Did Congressman Boccieri “misread” the economy as Vice-President Biden has recently recognized?  I think the spending philosophy of most of us in this part of Ohio runs contrary to the position and voting record of Mr. Boccieri.  This impetuous spending will lead to disaster.  Congressman Boccieri, SLOW DOWN, YOU’RE SPENDING TOO FAST!

Dr. Mark Hamilton is an Associate Professor of Philosophy, Ashland University and Chairman of the Institute for Principled Policy

Empathy and Sotomayer

blind-justiceToday the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Sotomayer begin.  It is my hope these hearings will be closely watched by the American public and that people (both Senators and citizens) will make their own evaluations of her suitability based on her legal skills, her judgment, her character, and their independent assessments rather than filtered through the predisposed media or their personal political preferences.

A few months ago President Obama expressed his desire for a Supreme Court justice with empathy.  We first discovered his value of empathy as a virtue when as a senator he voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts by explaining that Roberts lacked empathy.  Empathy is to suffer with or feeling the same feelings that the person who is suffering is feeling.  It is to feel and appreciate what it is like to be in the other person’s shoes.  It is not just an understanding of what they are feeling but feeling what they are feeling.  Empatheia means in feeling, or physical affection, passion, partiality.  It blurs the line between self and others.  It’s feeling the emotional states of others or to be in tune with the other.  Some research suggests that people are more able and willing to empathize with those most similar to themselves.  It increases with similarities in culture and living conditions.  We are more likely to empathize with those with whom we interact more frequently (Levenson and Reuf 1997 and Hoffman 2000: 62).   The empathizer’s own emotional background may affect or distort what emotions they perceive in others.

Empathy became popularized through the psychological efforts of the humanist psychologist Carl Rogers who taught that psychological healing often occurs in the inner being of the client through the emotional caring bond created by the empathic relationship with the counselor.  This concept has been elevated in our culture to be a treasured virtue second only to tolerance in popularity.  I recently read a fund-raising letter from a former student now in campus ministry who boasted of the desire to train students in empathy.

But empathy is not a virtue.  Neither is it a vice.  It is a feeling and virtues are not feelings.  Virtues are ingrained character traits created by actions.  They are objective while feelings are subjective.  A virtuous person acts virtuously; she does not feel virtuous feelings.  Virtues are things like wisdom, courage, temperance, charity, or compassion.  These things are always acted out.  To be courageous one must do courageous actions.  This should be done regardless of the feelings one is experiencing.  Love is a virtue and must be acted out.  To reduce love to a mere feeling is to remove it from the realm of virtue.  Justice is a virtue of action which must be done regardless of how one feels.  One might feel empathy for a person being sentenced for a crime, but that feeling should not influence justice being done.  A person might feel empathy for a child molester who was molested himself as a child but he should still be punished and be faced with impartial justice applying the rule of law.

Historically justice has best been understood as applying the law fairly or practicing the virtue of impartiality.  That’s what it means to portray justice as blind. The law must be interpreted objectively not through subjective feelings.  This is what we need in a judge; this is what we need in a Supreme Court Justice.  Will Sotomayor practice impartiality?  Will she be swayed by empathy?  If so, this disqualifies her from the role of Supreme Court Justice.

Judge Sotomayor’s personal story is compelling and will be at the center of the hearings.  But to let story become the basis of legal suitability is a postmodern phenomenon and threatens the idea of the rule of law and the value of impartiality.

Dr. Mark Hamilton is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ashland University and Board Chairman of the Institute for Principled Policy.