Risky Business: Health Insurance and Foreign Policy.

I have to break my hiatus. I cannot be silent on these issues any longer. Its certainly been an interesting few months since I stopped writing on this blog. But I did say I might publish an article or two if I feel really moved. There are two issues that I feel like are quite distressing. Health insurance and Foreign policy are totally different topics. So I will cover them both separately. For heath insurance, I want to discuss the failed Obamacare repeal and replace. Basically I have a way better idea of how to fix healthcare. For foreign policy, it seems that Trump has gone the military dictator route, and it might get us in big trouble.  Without further ado:

Health Insurance:

Everyone has heard about Obamacare. Its pretty much a failure. Even though it gave everyone insurance, the price was way too high. Premiums are going up. Health insurance companies are pulling out. Doctors and Hospitals are getting screwed out of jobs. The website is a mess. Trump tried to fulfill a campaign to replace it and repeal. Its failed too. Although I was not surprised when I saw the garbage they tried to replace it with. I’m young so I didn’t mind the shift of premiums to the older people since I’m young and healthy. However, the problem is the majority of older people are the ones who rely on health insurance the most. The bright spots were that Trump was going to roll back the mandatory clause and penalty. The other bright spot was the clause to keep your insurance under your parents until 26. Other than that it was Obamacare lite. Its almost like when you drink beer. If your in college you go for anything with lite in it because its cheap. Once you become an adult suddenly you can afford some Guinness.

All of this to say that I wasn’t surprised. Of course it didn’t pass. Its not just because the bill was awful either. Trump is inexperienced with Congress. Its all about lining up the votes and that’s something Trump had never done. I like the idea of repealing Obamacare because to me it violates our rights as citizens. The government doesn’t need to babysit us. We should have a choice to get healthcare or risk the consequences. Plus if you can afford to pay out of pocket then insurance is a waste of money. Its especially a waste if you are young and healthy.  So what would I do after I repeal Obamacare. Its pretty simple actually.

Once its repeal, I would write up some regulations, taking some of the good ones that exist already. I would add some new ones. It would change the government’s role in the healthcare business. If you scroll through my blog you would find that I’d do things a little differently with basic income replacing most welfare. This would enable me to privatize medicare and social security. I would continue taking government out of our personal business. The regulations would make so the government watches and monitors prices, monopolies and business practices like pre-existing conditions discrimination. Here are a just a few of the regulations I would enact:

  1. Any under the age of 26 would be able to keep their parents insurance
  2. Pre-existing conditions have to be accepted, no company can turn you away
  3. Insurance companies wouldn’t be allowed to lobby anymore
  4. No more insurance subsidies from the government
  5. Government healthcare website of all different providers (to streamline the sales)
  6. Providers would have to compete for customers based pricing and best coverage
  7. Minimum coverage requirements: like access to doctors, specialists and medications
  8. No mandatory penalties

These are just a few general regulatory things that I would enact. All together it would put the healthcare system into a free market one. The health insurance companies would be force to compete for customers.  This means the provider with the best coverage and price would attract the most customers. There are a lot of health insurances so I would allow some mergers but only for the good of the consumer. Free market will drive down premiums because of the competition element. This is what Obamacare is missing. It may include everyone but the cost is ridiculously high. Those people who can’t afford a basic plan of insurance in the free market would be put on medicare/ medicaid still. Which would be funded by the cut in both welfare costs and military budget cuts (Personnel wouldn’t be cut). Also with the enactment of basic income this will allow everyone an extra 24,000 a year to buy insurance with. If you have a job that is tax-free.

Healthcare insurance is a complicated business. Its risky to mess with it. Pulling back the government is the best way to fix the system. Government tends to make things more expensive. Free market is a better replacement for Obamacare than any alternatives.

Foreign Policy:

It interesting that Trump had almost a knee jerk reaction to the chemical attack in Syria. His bombing was definitely uncalled for but probably didn’t hurt him politically in America. However, the perception around the world is that Trump is a bit of a loose cannon. Trump should tread carefully especially when messing with Russia and North Korea. North Korea’s threat to launch missiles is a little nerve racking because in any scenario, a thermonuclear war doesn’t end well for anybody. Trump should just back off of North Korea because its not worth it. As for Syria, once again you have to be smart. The Syrians and Russians are allies. Therefore messing with Syria is always the best idea.

The good thing is that Russia isn’t as powerful as it was during the cold war. But it still wants to be assertive in its sphere of influence thanks to its President Putin. I think its best just to talk with Russia to keep them in check. Military conflict won’t end well. As for Syria itself, we really shouldn’t get too involved. We already saw what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only type of intervention we need to do is humanitarian. Make sure that innocent people are out of harms way. Accepting refugees is obviously hard to do because of the costs. Also security concerns, just look at Europe with all the terrorist attacks recently. Trump has a tricky road ahead that’s for sure.

I’ll be watching closely to see what happens next here….

I’m not sure when I will post again but probably not for awhile. Thanks for reading!

 

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US Foreign Policy: Syrian Intervention?

Many people have found the heartbreaking videos of the Syrian refugees in Aleppo to saddening and angering. The Syrian conflict has been going on since March 2011. It seems that the conflict will not come to an end anytime soon. The situation is Syria is hugely complex. The conflict itself has many sides in addition to the international ramifications that could lead to worldwide consequences. Russia has already thrown their weight around with air strikes called in by the Syrian President himself, Bashar Al-Assad. The conflict involves major powers like the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Denmark, Australia and of course the United States. It also involves archenemies like China and Russia. Its a very tense and dangerously unstable situation. In this post, I want to praise the Obama Administration for showing restraint and handling the situation in the proper way. A rare thing for me to do. I also want to discuss the pros and cons of military intervention. Its probably more accurate to say that I want to argue for a massive humanitarian effort.

To my surprise, President Obama has perfectly dealt with the Syrian Civil war. Although he did help create it by withdrawing troops out of Iraq. However, Obama cannot be blamed for the conflict, it was many years in the making. Assad’s father had re-written the constitution of Syria. He tried to move it toward a democratic government not so connected to Muslims. After his father died in 2000, Bashar took over. He opposed the Iraq war and US invasion. He promised democratic reforms but ultimately fail to implement them. This created the events that occurred in March 2011. The peaceful protest all over the middle east suddenly turned violent in Syria. Assad went to suppress the protesters with violence. This act only spurred more violence and the formation of the Free Syrian Army. By 2014, ISIS had joined the fight and then in 2015, Russia and Turkey joined the fray. All told about 470,000 people have lost their lives. As for President Obama, he chose not to intervene with full military force.

Similar to Russian efforts, President Obama opted for airstrikes against ISIS targets. I’m sure glad he didn’t go any further than that. President Obama is very much against the war in Syria but even he knows the military intervention would be dangerous option. Not even mentioning the coalition that it would bring and the international controversy but the causalities would probably quadruple. Syria is a bigger death than Iraq and Afghanistan combined. We cannot afford another extended conflict. I want to praise Obama for his restraint because I think most President’s in his position might be tempted to intervene due to the human rights violations. I think the case against intervention is that of a humanitarian effort. We also can’t forget that there would be some major foreign policy implications.

Let’s say for argument that there was invasion plan on the table with the backing of Department of Defense and a UN coalition not including Russia and China who have problems. Like usual with any UN resolution it demands that the US front the bulk of the troops on the ground. They call it a peacekeeping force to keep Assad from murdering his own people. But everyone else knows its a suicide mission to eliminate ISIS. Russia has a problem because Syria is their ally. Syria is in the Russian sphere of influence. Assad had called Vladimir Putin for air support. China is opposed because it sees the US as trying to grab influence and oil. The invasion plan calls for 100,000 troops over the next year or so. It calls for increases as necessary with full air and navy support. This plan could incur up to a million causalities in total. It could double the causality rate especially for the Syrian civilian population.

There is another plan lingering among some of the other countries who don’t feel that all out military invasion is the route to go. Germany used to be in support but pulled out. (Truth) For argument sake, Germany proposes a plan of humanitarian support for Syria. After the last terrorist attack on the Christmas flea market they can’t stand for this human suffering and refugees any longer. The humanitarian plan includes donations of at least 100 million dollars in food and supplies for each country who joins. It includes a plan for small force to protect the distributors of the food and supplies. Germany thinks that if the United States joins then it could help keep the international tensions of Russia and China at bay.

The problem with the military intervention is that Russia won’t possibly stand for more influence in their sphere. Putin has already show a willingness to intervene if it means that Russia can take that influence. Just look at Crimea, there were many pro-Russia elements even though they were separate from Russia, Putin decided that military push to annex Crimea with pro-Russia elements could extend the Russia influence and strengthen it. The pros to an intervention are far and few in between. One pro might be the decimation of ISIS. However, ISIS has shown a willingness to move somewhere better  and terrorists rarely ever stay put if they are being overwhelmingly attacked. It also a desired outcome of any terrorist to have the one of the most powerful nations come after them. It means they have power.

The cons of military intervention are those of death and destruction of the Syria society. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan dramatically change the lives of citizens. In an unforeseen turn of events, the Iraqis and Afghans have turned against the United States. The Syrians already find the US to be detestable because of their actions in the Iraq war. In a simple phrase, we have been in this situation before. However, I do think that doing nothing is not an option. The human rights violations call for action, but we can’t exacerbate an already violent situation with more violence. If a humanitarian plan is put forward either by Germany or any country it might be suggested that sanctions be issued against Syria. It might also encourage the elimination of allies trying to help fight. The more countries that join the fight, the more complicated it gets.

The humanitarian effort could save more lives. The humanitarian effort help the civilians who are stuck in the middle of this terrible conflict. According to the most recent numbers, the Syrian Civilian death toll is near 90,000. You can break it down, about 16,000 children, about 11,000 females over 18. The death toll is already too high, a military intervention could see these numbers triple.  I haven’t even mention the refugees already created, approximately: 6 million refugees according to the UN. The controversy continues with these refugees about whether to accept them. Germany has already experienced what many are convinced of. The Christmas market tragedy. I believe the UN should set up a background check system to vet these refugees for admission to safety. The dangers of a terrorist slipping through are well known.

Another unanswered question is that of Genocide. (Not to end on a dark note) Under the Geneva Convention rules on Genocide it defines a genocide by:

“Article II:  In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III:  The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide. “

Source: http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/officialtext-printerfriendly.htm

Has Assad and the Syrian Government committed genocide under the convention? Now I personally would have too look at who is being killed. We know the why. They were protesting for a democratic government, better economic conditions and the like. However, Syria has a rather large population of Muslim sects. This might need another post to cover. But it is a serious question to ask.

I want to wrap up this post on Syria with one last summary of perhaps a different of saying what I’ve already argued. The Syrian Civil war is a conflict that is extremely complicated and controversial. The conflict cannot be solved with war as evidenced by the past five years of fighting. The people of Syria are suffering the most from this prolonged conflict. The refusal of the UN countries to sufficiently act in a humanitarian effort is deplorable. However, a military intervention is not necessarily the best option in terms of the safety of the Syria people. As human beings, we have a duty to help those in need, those in suffering. We need to act to either bring help to those suffering in Syria or we need to figure out a way to sufficiently prevent terrorists from coming with those 6 million refugees to the United States and Europe alike. Humanitarian efforts keep the Syrian people safe and the international tensions at bay meanwhile a military intervention guarantees nothing but the antagonizing of the terrorist and America’s enemies.

Thanks for reading!

Sources:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/syria-civil-war-explained-160505084119966.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Civil_War#cite_note-SOHR-90

Meddling in the Middle East: Aid Trouble

Before I go into my headline topic on the middle east, I want to just take moment to say that I called the stock market crash and rebound after the Brexit vote last week. After nearly three days of down stocks, the market has returned almost all the losses. Once again I want to reiterate that the long-term economic and political results won’t be seen for at least 3 to 5 years. Now let me switch gears into a very controversial topic that relates to terrorism and the middle east. Today I want to discuss the absurdly of the US foreign policy toward Israel. I also want touch on tragic airport bombing in Istanbul, Turkey that was supposedly planned by ISIS. My main focus of this post is to make the point that Israel should be able to accept being an US ally without needing over 50 billion dollars for military aid.

First up, I want to mourn for the victims of the airport bombing in Istanbul, Turkey. It was a horrible and savage attack. The death toll has reach nearly 50 people with over 200 people injured. I think that its very necessary to use caution especially when traveling abroad. You never know when ISIS will strike. The US response was about as usual as it could be. There isn’t much choice but to strengthen the airport security. It’s very unfortunate for the Turkish people for whom terrorist attacks have been increasing in the past year. You can find part of the reason in the civil war in Syria which continues to raise havoc in the region. Turkey also has some domestic terrorist which are just as bad. Turkey actually relies on tourism for a good part of their economy. Hopefully the Turkish government can take the necessary steps to deter and stop more attacks. They can also thank Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. Unfortunately President Obama and Hillary Clinton conceived a foreign policy that led to the creation of ISIS because of power void. This absence of power is thanks to George W. Bush, however, without a stable government in the area it was pretty much impossible to stop the formation of a terror group.

On the topic of stable governments in the middle east, there is at least one US ally that is not named Saudi Arabia or Jordan. That US ally is also one of the world’s nuclear powers. The small nation of Israel, location centrally in the middle east. A key ally in helping maintain a balance of power in the thick of US hatred. Recently, there was news about the agreements that happen each year between the US and Israel. This time around it seems that President Obama is standing up against Israel. The article highlights the main facts surrounding the Israeli-American defense agreement that sends 50 billion dollars a year of taxpayer to help fund the Israeli military. It also says that Obama wants to cut out his part of the agreement. The agreement also deals with civilian aid and economic aide. For once, I think President Obama is making the right move with Israel and here’s why.

First, no other country gets such special treatment like the Israeli’s do. Not the UK, not France, not anybody. Israel is the only country in the world that gets to spend its US aid on military weapons. Now granted, this policy was formed after World War 2 because of the holocaust and the need to protect the Jewish population. However, its has been a signficant amount of time since then, about 70 years. President Obama correct asserts that Israel should start paying for their own military. Second, it is not fair to the American taxpayers (that’s me and you) to have pay for defense that typically never benefits them. The reason why it never benefits US citizens is because just look at the middle east! It’s a fucking mess. I don’t think Israel has done much to help the situation.

The third problem is that America can no longer afford to keep shoveling 50 billion a year to Israel. We have enough debt as it is. We have a huge military and trust me its enough to defend Israel if its necessary. You might say “Oh but what about Iran, don’t they want to wipe Israel off the map?” Yes, that’s true. However, I think Israel will be fine since they have nuclear weapons and Iran just signed an agreement to not have them. The deterrence factor should come into play here. My problem with this is just about the money. I think the Israeli’s have always been a great ally and never tried to play us or trick us. However, many nations are America’s ally for benefits and many of them do it without 3 billion a year in military.

I am so proud of President Obama. His foreign policy has been characterized as soft and lacking. I think this is a bold move that Israel definitely won’t like but what are they going to do? Obama is so right to play hardball. Obama should absolutely stick up for American taxpayers. I honestly just don’t give shit about how good of ally and let me explain it in simpler terms. For example, let’s say you have two different friends. Both friends you’ve known for 15 years. Both friends provide you the same support and kinship that you love about them. The difference is that one friend only hits you up when they need money. The other friend is always down to pay for their own shit. Israel is like the friend that only hits you up for money. It’s not a very good way to be a friend. If you are only in it for the money!

I don’t want to sound anti-Semitic or anything, but I really think it’s an unnecessary amount of money. America is going through its own economic crisis. This crisis has been brought on in part by the spending of the military industrial complex. Trust me, 16 trillion dollars of our national debt is not just from bailouts and social programs. 16 trillion dollars is the estimation by a great scholar by the name of Paul A.C Koistnen. He is a tremendous scholar whom I gotten advice from. He is an expert on the military industrial complex with about 10 books in publication. I recommend that you read up on him. His estimate of 16 trillion dollars is the amount that the military industrial complex has cost the US since the end of World War 2. That is nearly 76 percent of the national debt. So I just want to end by congratulating President Obama on his good move and I hope that he continues to push to get rid of the 3 billion subsidization.

Thank you for reading!

 

Safety over Rights or Rights over Safety?

I often think about the great debate that plagues Americans everywhere. It seems that all the struggles in America come down to the choice of safety and security or group and individual rights. This debate has brought out in detail by the recent mass shooting in Orlando over guns and radical muslim terrorists. This debate is nothing new. One of the problems of governemnt especially with a democratic government is that it allows free choice. Free choice in itself can be good and bad. You can choose to make good choices that help you or others. You can also choose to kill people. Of course, for every bad choice or legally wrong choice there is consequences. Our democratic government has fallen into the trap of limiting bad choices of its citizens. This is a natural process throughout our history as we advance through time. The problem with choosing security over rights is quite simply that it takes away the rights of the people. The people as the constitution states, run the government. It can be noted that dictatorships actually demonstrate a full view of an security state. The power of the government is vested in one person. That one person is the government and makes all the decisions. That dictator controls all the rights of the people. Therefore in theory, the safety of the people is guranteed because adjustments by the dictator can be made. However, many dictators are corrupted and use their power to undermine the safety of the people. Ultimately it undermines their rights. In a democratic government the debate over safety or rights is an issue because we follow a constutition which lays out the specific power limitations of government.

The constitution is a very important document that is not fully understood by many Americans. I want to point that the constitution doesn’t grant the government power to do whatever it wants. The constitution is not supposed to be taken advantage of or used to increase personal power or wealth. The constitution is supposed to make sure that our government does its job. The job description of the government is written in the constitution.  Checks and balances and Judical Review both are instruments to help keep and uphold the constitution. If people reconigze the constitution as a statue of limitations then it totally changes how you see our government. Remember the people run the government. Not government run people.

The constitution also lays out our rights as people that are basic to everybody who is an American citizen. The bill of rights is the most important addition to the constitution because it gives us those freedoms that we enjoy. Many people, politicans and groups argue over the 2nd Amendment. This is the right to bear arms. If you don’t know there are two ways to interpret the constitution, they are strict and loose interpretations. In each interpretation, the right to bear arms means the right to own a gun regardless of the purpose. The amendment actually stipulates two different laws. The first is that of a well regulated militia for the security of a free state. In a strict intepretation this would be out of date since we no longer have militias. In a loose intepretation this would mean that if necessary then a militia could be formed. The second part of the law applies to current events.

The second part states that its “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall be not infringed”. This statement in both interpretations means the right to own a gun is not to be taken away under any circumstances. The narrative after the most recent shooting is that assault weapons should be banned. Let’s set aside the fact that bans have never worked. (Tell me about bans: Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes under 18….how are those working out? If you ever drank under 21 or smoked a cig under 18 or smoke pot in a state wheres it illegal then you probably know that bans don’t work right?)  The problem with banning assault weapons under the second amendment is that there is no legal grounds to do so. A better solution that has no legal ramifications constitutionally is more extensive background checks and psychological evalutions at 1 year interevals. In this case, there is actually a way to choose safety AND rights. Unfortunately, the government would prefer safety because it increases their power. If they can take away your assault rifle then that’s techincally voiding the second amendment and legalizing all guns for bans. The logical solution is that getting a gun should be very hard through extensive background and psychological evalutions. I would propose a similar regulation to that of motor vechicles. You need to register your car every two years, get an inspectation (In NY STATE) every year, and update your plates. Its not that cheap to own a car with all the expenses like insurance and all that I just mentioned. So why can’t we do this with guns?

I think that its clear that our rights our being traded for security. I want to give one more example. The best example of government picking security over rights is after 9/11. Its obvious why the US government took the steps that it did to protect us. What isn’t so obvious is that they violated our rights while doing so. The main culprit is the Patriot Act. The Act gave legal power to government agencies such as the FBI, CIA, NRA and others to spy and keep track of all citizens. The means by which this was carried out violated many of the constitutional bill of rights. It far exceeded the power that the government should have had. The 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th amendments have been violated by the Patriot Act. This was done all in the name of security. You may ask then, how do we let this slip by us? The answer lies in who we voted in office. The congress has become very stagnant with the same people in office for many years. This allows for complacency and inactitivity.  One of the problems that occur in the safety vs. rights debate is that politicans are often on both sides. Politicans tend to claim that will defend our rights. In practice, they usually end up either creating new rights for their own advantage or taking away rights for some to help others. Politicans are plagued with self interest and greed. This is human nature. It seems that being a poltiican only makes these two vices worse.

Since 9/11, we have certainly traded a lot of rights for what seems like the same standard of security. I feel like trading rights for security has never worked. Many political observers have often noted this fact. I look around the world with new terrorist attacks every week, I can’t see how we are any safer. I also want to add another facet to the gun debate that also involves rights. The right to keep arms is usually in your house. However, the right to bear arms would suggest that an open carry policy is the constitutional standard. One of the common dominators of terrorist and mass shooting attacks is gun free zones. These safe zones are not so safe and are usually: schools, colleges, clubs, shopping malls, government buildings, convention centers, stadiums. Many people are against an open carry policy, usually offering the argument that America into Somali, a war zone. However, let me submit to you an example of open carry policy in a US state, a state that has had no mass shootings in recent memory since 1983. That is 33 years with no mass shootings. This state if you don’t know already was admitted to the union as the 49th state. It was purchased in Sewards Folly which should be a dead giveway!  Its in the arctic circle. Its Alaska! Yes, Alaska has an semi-restricted open or conceal handgun policy with similar restrictions on other guns. So basically, you don’t need a permit to carry or conceal a handgun. For other guns and assault weapons you may need a permit or not depends on where. So how can this be?

Well, my friends this is how gun control works. I want to use analogy to wrap up my post. Let’s say that Country A and Country B are neighbors. Country A has a nuclear weapon. Country B does not have a nuclear weapon. If Country A decides to nuke Country B there isn’t much that B can do about it. If both Country A and B have nuclear weapons (Same amount) then if Country A threatens to nuke B. The result will be one of two: Country B threatens to nuke or Country B is nuked and retalites. In a situation where both parties have equal strength of force it will become a zero sum game.  If country B does get nuked then retalites against A then they both loose. However, if they both decide against launching their nukes then they both win. This same logic can be applied to guns. This is usually called deterence. It can be more powerful than any passable law.

I know that personallly I would rather have my rights over safety because rights give you safety. The government can’t protect each individual its just not practical or possible. Allow me to suggest that we start advocating for rights over safety so we can guard the constitution, the law of the land.

Thanks for reading!