31 March 2010


While the administration and congress have forced through a radical health overhaul certain basic questions have not been directly addressed. Are we responsible for keeping everyone who is living today alive? Does this mean everyone in the United States or does it also mean the developing world as well, as some would have it? These are difficult moral questions, but there is nothing in the constitution to suggest that the state has any responsibilities along these lines. One could stretch the meaning of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence to encompass this, though it is unclear to what extent the state could guarantee life any more than it can guarantee happiness.

Are we responsible for taking care of those who will not bear the cost of taking care of themselves? Those who cannot already have support systems, no matter how imperfect. Clearly before any attempt to overhaul the health care system is attempted these basic questions ought to be thoughtfully addressed given that there is no consensus on them.

The left would establish a “right” to health care for everyone, thus assigning the state the responsibility for life itself. On the other hand many on the right emphasize the sanctity of life and oppose abortion and euthanasia and would involve the state in these matters. Thus there is an odd convergence of opinion that the state ought to be involved in some sense with the matter of life, although understandings as to what this means differ widely. For any overhaul to be acceptable there has to be some agreement on fundamentals. Any new right ought to have the broad base of a constitutional amendment, if not an amendment itself.

Health care literally constitutes the fundamental “cost of living.” For countless centuries basic human needs have consisted of food, shelter, and clothing. Over the past hundred years as life spans have increased due to medical innovation, health has become another need, in that people can live into old age to the extent they are healthy. In prior centuries little could be done to extend lifespans and the average person died at a considerably younger age. What was “old” in the past is now relatively young. This is what accounts for much of the increase in health care costs over the years. This is the real “cost of living,” and the administration’s health care program would effectively make this a responsibility of the state, thus transforming a need into a right. Even if such a right was established it does not follow that government should manage it, anymore than it manages our choices in food, shelter, or clothing. But they go even further, not only creating a right but a requirement.

However most of the innovation has come from society’s institutions, not the state, whether it be new drugs, medical devices and procedures, or cures for disease. Can the state effectively “control” this innovation? Or will it stifle further improvement? Part of the reason American health care costs are so high is that we are effectively subsidizing the rest of the world in terms of innovation, as reflected i.e. in domestic drug prices. As long as innovation continues unfettered there may well be an increase in the cost of living, unless or until yet other innovation leads to cost savings. This is clearly possible, as in the case of procedures that once required extended hospitalization and that can now be done on an outpatient basis. Thus innovation cuts both ways, but once the government takes control this engine will be stifled. The fallacy of the Democratic health care plan is that conditions that exist today are going to prevail in the future. Thus apart from cost factors, the Democratic plan represents a closed system based upon present day assumptions. But no one can accurately predict the future more than a few years out. Rather than expanding care it would effectively freeze it.

In addition to costs, the long term consequences of state control have not been seriously thought out. Suppose a procedure to extend lifespans was developed. There would certainly be a cost involved with this, which would effectively add to the cost of living. Would it then be then the responsibility of the government to guarantee an extended lifespan to everyone, regardless of their living habits? Prudence would indicate that we ought to think through exactly what responsibilities the state would assume. Unless and until there is a broader consensus change should be incremental at most and this monstrous legislation must be undone.

28 March 2010


As I return from vacation to hundreds of Emails, I realize how temporary and fleeting everything is and how quickly obsolescence sets in. Nothing fades like yesterday’s news. I usually don’t write about travel, but since Cozumel is a place I have revisited many times I feel as though I ought to give it a mention here. I go there often because it has some of the best scuba diving in the world, since Jacques Cousteau first discovered it in the 1950’s. I’ve never had a bad dive there. The only problem nowadays is packing dive gear given the way airlines are all scrimping. I put it all in a suitcase and put all my clothes in a carry-on.

Cozumel is an island off of Mexico in the Caribbean, just off the mainland and Cancun. However, unlike Cancun it is not overdeveloped and overrun with drunken American students. To be sure there has been some change since I started going there in the early 90s. Back then it was frequented mainly by divers and dive shops outnumbered restaurants. Now many of the diving establishments and other shops have been pushed a few blocks further in from the main road along the shore in San Miguel, the only real town. They have been replaced by large jewelry stores catering to the duty-free cruise ship crowd, since it has become a frequent stop on the Caribbean cruise routes. I noticed as many as seven cruise ships docked during the day, which is not a particularly good time to be in town. But the cruise passengers are taken to town or public beaches south of it so they don’t really inconvenience longer-term visitors.

I recommend visiting the island for a spell rather than a cruise stop to really enjoy its laid back atmosphere. It provides the best of the Caribbean as well as Mexico. Virtually the entire side of the island facing the mainland is a marine park full of gorgeous reefs and 100+ feet of visibility. This is where most of the hotels face, but there are no huge edifices and most are of moderate size. If you don’t dive there are plenty of offshore snorkeling opportunities, particularly at a park called Chakanaab.
Away from the shoreline most of the island is undeveloped jungle. We went horseback riding for nearly three hours through the jungle to some Mayan ruins, which left me quite sore. We also took a drive across the island to the “wild side” facing the ocean, which remains virtually undeveloped due to rough water and strong currents, although it does seem to be attracting a few surfers now. At the south end of the island is a national park where you are taken on a ride in an elevated vehicle past alligator swamps to a lighthouse at the end. That’s basically all there is to do, so you can have a perfectly good time lounging at the pool at a resort or on the beach. It is also only a short ferry ride to the mainland where you can visit ruins at Chichen Itza, Coba, and Tulum.

There are many good hotels that cater to divers, but for a general vacation I highly recommend the Melia Maya at the north end of the island where we have a timeshare. It has an excellent beach, nicely appointed facilities and impeccable service. There are many good dive operators on the island, where safety is a priority and generally the best thing to do is pick one that has been in business for a good number of years. I’m not going to recommend any particular dives because they are all good, and wherever your dive boat takes you, you are sure to enjoy it.

I don’t recommend doing an all-inclusive resort deal, at least not for a whole week as there are too many good restaurants in town. Among them are Pepe’s, which is a world class restaurant serving great meals like our favorite, Chateaubriand for two followed by Crepe Suzettes prepared at the table, at less than half the price you’d pay in New York. For Mexican fare, including local specialties we always go to La Choza, Casa Mission, CafĂ© Denis, Ernesto’s Fajita Factory, and Pancho’s Back Yard at Cinco Soles, a wonderful store that is always full of surprises and original material. All of these places are quite inexpensive and serve excellent food. In most places there are troubadors making the rounds in song and worth tipping. They all tend to be older, so it may something you won’t see forever.

It was unusually cool when we arrived but quickly warmed up. The climate is almost always mild, but don’t be fooled by occasional cloud cover, because you can still wind up with a sunburn. Be sure to go to the town square Sunday evening, when there is live music and dancing and the locals congregate with the tourists. Although others have now appeared, the best guide to the island is still a little Blue Book that is widely available for free. English is widely spoken and American money is the de facto currency. Finally, Cozumel is one of the safest places on the planet and crime-free. I highly recommend you pay a visit one day.

19 March 2010


As I am preparing to leave on a twice-postponed trip to Cozumel I won’t be here for the vote on the Democratic Health care bill(s). I cannot recall a time when the constitution has been so blatantly ignored, in order to achieve, what the proponents of this travesty perceive to be the “greater good.” This is a terrible precedent in trashing the Rule of Law, which I’ve written on previously. The Democratic leadership of the House cannot even muster up enough votes to pass the Senate version of the Health Care bill. Instead they are resorting to an unprecedented maneuver, in which they vote on changes to that bill but "deem" it passed without ever voting on it and then the Senate votes on the changes.

It was a stretch to use the reconciliation process in the Senate in order to pass with only 51 votes for a major piece of legislation. But this is sheer lawlessness. The constitution clearly states "Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively." But with these maneuvers no single bill with all features will ever have been voted on in the House.

This is an unprecedented travesty, the consequences of which cannot be foretold. Once the spirit of the law is violated can it be put back together again? We now have the prospect of a major piece of social legislation becoming "law" despite the massive opposition of the people and the unrepresentative methods that have been used to achieve it. These are desperate people who put an ideological commitment ahead of the rule of law and democracy itself. Opposition must not cease, but instead be further intensified. The perpetrators must be voted out, the legislation repealed (although that will face a presidential veto), and further no funds be appropriated for it. It will also be subject to court challenges on numerous grounds and could also be overturned by the Supreme Court anyway. One way or another it must ultimately be undone. Truly this will not stand.

14 March 2010


“Racism” is a term that gets bandied about very loosely these days to the point that it is virtually meaningless. This society is described as “racist” by leftists and black militants, but the truth is if anything it is profoundly anti-racist. That is why “racist” is about the worst thing you can call anyone, and once stung with it the consequences for careers can be devastating. Of course this is a term that can only be ascribed to whites. But the term is used so loosely today that it has come to mean little more than “unfair.”

Given the pervasiveness of this paradigm it is not surprising that the goofy actor Tom Hanks would describe the Pacific war as “racist,” on our part, and apparently so is the war on terror. Never mind that even if you construed this war as something on Islam it would not be in any sense racial. As for the Pacific, Hanks ignorance is truly breathtaking. Given the liberal mindset it is not possible for anyone other than white people to be racist, so it never occurs to them that the Japanese were in fact truly racist in their approach to the war. The regime regarded their race as superior to everyone else and thus their occupation of other countries was brutal. Furthermore they attacked us, and it was their own policy not to surrender and to die to the last man. On 9/11 we were also attacked.

It is unfortunate that there is a segment of this society that promulgates the view that this country was founded on “racism and genocide,” and unfortunately they occupy positions of influence in education and entertainment. Thus they warp and trash our history and encourage every minority to have some kind of grievance. This is the tragedy of our times. Our children are being fed lies by political fanatics, when the truth is there is no more open society in history. The “facts on the ground” belie this depiction and it is high time we stood up and disregarding the fear of being called “racist” and say enough!

07 March 2010


The President and the Democratic congress are trying to ram through their health care “reform” package despite serious flaws and public opposition. The only thing good about this Kamikazi attack is assured self-destruction of this radical regime. Should this monstrosity pass the opposition must run a focused campaign on repealing it. The analysis provided by Representative Paul Ryan is clearly devastating.

He points out that this plan is based upon the subterfuge of applying ten years of revenue to six years of expenditures to support the claim of budget neutrality. It provides ten years of tax increases and Medicare cuts, not a continuation of existing programs. The plan does not control costs. It does not reduce deficits despite claims to the contrary. “What this bill essentially does is treat Medicare like a piggy bank. It raids half a trillion dollars out of Medicare, not to shore up Medicare solvency, but to spend on this new government program.” There are also double accounting gimmicks but in the end the ten year cost of the bill has a $460 billion deficit, with the next ten years running a $1.4 trillion deficit. It is a total fraud and people can see through this when presented with the facts. The administration has no credibility on this issue.

It is nothing short of revolutionary to nationalize one sixth of the economy with a dubious scheme, rather than an incremental approach that would work first towards reducing costs. This disastrous course must be stopped or we all are going to pay a heavy price.

05 March 2010


Nothing is more indicative of the current government’s warped priorities more than the case of the three Navy Seals and the trial of 9/11 terrorists. The three Navy Seals are charged with….. punching a prisoner in the stomach. How horrible! We handle terrorist murderers with kid gloves while persecuting our own troops. The government is going to spend millions trying the terrorists in the United States with the full legal rights of citizens, even though they acknowledge that they are at war with the United States. They should be treated like any other enemy combatant.

You can’t help getting the impression that the people in charge of this country don’t really like it. They are more concerned with “world opinion” than American security. They think it is a flawed country that must be corrected and radically “reformed” even though they have little in the way of public support. Never has the divergent dichotomy between government and public opinion been so pronounced. We can only hope that they continue to choke on their own paralysis and ideological stupidity until November and thus minimize the damage they are doing to this country.