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Independence: Part 2

  • Posted on July 17, 2011 at 4:07 AM

So, what does independence really mean? What is its significance in American culture?

Independence is “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.” In American history, independence was primarily a political matter. As a fledgling nation, we wanted independence from the control and taxation of the British Empire. I support this kind of independence. In our Constitution, we have also ensured another kind of independence: Independence from the government, which is manifest in the freedom to speak openly, to organize, to arm oneself, and—all together—the freedom of self-determination. All these are good things.

But I can’t help but think our obsession with independence is a bit misguided. Sure, independent thought and free-will, with minimal governmental obstruction, are foundations of this nation—which I wholly support. But our obsession with independence has gone far beyond that, while at the same time neglecting the basic tenets of our founding beliefs. We focus less on self-determination and more focus on self-sufficiency. The less self-sufficient you are, the less valued you are, and the less respected your legal rights become.

I could write a political post about how government encroaches on independent thought and free-will, and how as a democratic republic we should actively resist. But that’s not the focus of this blog and my past side-steps into politics on this venue haven’t gone so well. Besides, I’m more concerned about the ways we distract ourselves with assumptions of human value based on a person’s independent living status. As if whether or not you can hold down a job, button up your coat, or drive a car are the true indicators of your human worth—rather than a belief that we’ve all been endowed with unalienable rights and we are all created equal.

I’ve been told that this focus on independent living is rooted in our colonial history. If people weren’t independent, they didn’t survive. But is that really true? Granted, I’m a bit removed from colonial days, but as I understand it neighbors actually helped each other back then. That doesn’t sound very independent to me. You need a barn built? Sure, you could take weeks or months and do it yourself. Maybe you could, depending on your access to assistive technologies, such as winches and levers. Or you could pass the word along to your neighbors and get a bunch of people together and get the barn built in a day. Which do you think they did? I’m sure some people made rudimentary barns and houses without help, but when help was available they used it. Why? Because life is better when you can and do get the help you need, whether it’s from technology, other people, or both

I believe in independence. I believe people should be empowered to do the things they can do, and that often means providing them with technologies and education to get them to a point of actionable power. Then, once they reach the point of success, it means stepping back and letting them do it. But, before you get to that point of success, you do need help. You need to learn, you need tools, and you need people to help you. That’s true whether you have a disability or not.

Ah, but the difference is some people, when given the tools and assistance they need, can become more independent then others! Really? How much of that is genuine potential, or lack thereof, and how much of that is appropriateness of tools and education? We assume some people are more able—or have more potential for “ableness”—than others. Yet, as a culture, we resist providing those who are deemed less able with appropriate technological and educational adaptations. How can we really know what people are capable of if we only provide a certain set of standardized tools and we only provide those to the people we think can use them? Does that reflect a belief in independence or a belief in standardization?

Independence: Part 1

  • Posted on July 9, 2011 at 6:21 PM

This past week we celebrated the United States’ independence from Britain. All across the country people celebrated with parades, fireworks, parties and barbeques. My family spent some time with extended family at my in-laws’ cottage. But as we celebrated our independence, I couldn’t help but think about what independence means to my family and the many people like us throughout this country. One thing is for sure, we weren’t the ones setting off fireworks, though there were plenty of them going off around our neighborhood. Just listening to these relatively distant loud bangs and pops or seeing the flashing colors was enough to aggravate my own senses. I can only imagine how much these stimulations irritated my children; though I know Alex and Ben found it difficult to sleep while all of that was going on.

My reflections on the meaning of independence were a bit more basic. What is independence? Why is it so important to people in this country? What will independence look like for my family as my children grow up? What will it look like for each of my children once they become adults? I tried to find a way to fit this all into one post. Obviously, I failed. So, consider these topics on your own and in the next few posts I’ll relate my thoughts on each of these topics and try to pull it all together into some kind of conclusion.

I know that’s not very reassuring, but try to stick with me. It should be an interesting ride!

Lingering Eugenics

  • Posted on June 21, 2011 at 2:17 AM

Often, when I try to inform people about our unsavory history—particularly the eugenics programs practiced here in the United States of America and their similarity to those practiced by Nazi Germany—I’m met with skepticism. I’m told it couldn’t happen here.

But it did.

In this news article, Renee Elder and Tom Breen report on North Carolina’s efforts to “make amends to thousands of people who cannot have children because of eugenics-inspired theories about social improvement.”

The leading paragraph states: “Next week, victims and their relatives will tell their stories to a state task force considering compensation to victims of sterilizations that continued into 1974.”

Not only did I want to post this to show those who might doubt that there is factual evidence—publicly recognized, even if not well known—that proves that the United States did practice eugenics and did inflict harm on real people in their pursuit of some kind of social ideal, I also wanted to highlight the lingering effects of this ideology.

Particularly, there are some choice quotes from Paul Lombardo, a professor at Georgia State University's College of Law, which highlights how these programs are still being justified.

He starts off saying, “The argument was, anybody who generates social costs shouldn’t be allowed to have children.”

Of course, this statement ignores the fact that we all generate social costs. The schools we attend, the roads we use, the courts we use to pursue justice or to change our legal status—these services all come with social costs. The assumption, therefore, is that some of us generate social costs and contribute to paying those costs by paying taxes, whereas others don’t. And this makes the lives of some more valuable than those of others. Those who fail to generate sufficient income for the government to fund the services they use are subject to penalties. One of the penalties the government used to inflict on people was sterilization.

Further along in the article, Lombardo says, “This wasn’t just a bunch of evil people running around. Many of these people really wanted to alleviate suffering.”

I can’t be the only one to see the arrogance in this statement. We “alleviate suffering” by denying the reproductive rights of individuals whom we’ve already devalued? How does this “alleviate suffering?” How does the government assuming the power to control reproduction “alleviate suffering?”

Besides which, evil is not merely a factor of our intentions—as the cliché goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions—but a product of what we do. When we do evil things and justify these things to ourselves by devaluing those we do these things to—well, that’s evil. It just is.

But, of course, Lombardo is not alone in his willingness to continue justifying these abhorrent practices. Mary Kilburn, a retired psychologist who worked for the North Carolina’s Social Services Department from 1969 to 1980, said she and her co-workers believed “we were doing a really helpful thing.” She doesn’t seem to understand that her belief doesn’t make it so. According to this article, “She said it has been a shock to see their work vilified because so many families welcomed the procedure at the time.”

Families are often convinced by doctors they trust to do things they shouldn’t. We can’t all be experts on everything that could be medically significant in our lives. We have to rely on those who are experts for sound advice. But sometimes those people are wrong. Sometimes the doctors are wrong, sometimes the parents are wrong, and sometimes the state is wrong.

“I looked at it not as something being done to them, but something being done for them,” Kilburn said.

And that’s how we justify the evil we do. We turn people into “them,” and the “us” knows what’s good for “them,” so we do it to “them” whether they want it or not. This, unfortunately, has not changed.

Unaware

  • Posted on May 23, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Apparently, it’s Mental Health Awareness month.  Don’t you feel more aware and stuff now that you know that?  I certainly do, or, um, well, not.  See, I’m not a big fan of awareness months.  It started with my first taste of Black History Month.  I don’t remember what grade I was in when I noticed the libraries featuring books in celebration of Black History, but I do remember thinking:  “So, what, they don’t have a history the other eleven months?”  And, sadly, according to the education I received (totally public, if you have doubts), that’s pretty much true, too.  It’s like, prior to the Civil War, there was no black history and between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement there wasn’t any either.  Now, one could assume that people with black skin didn’t do anything important in the intervening time—and I suspect some people have/do assume just that—but, that’s really just ignorant.  And so, I have to wonder, does a Black History month really change the prejudice and bias of the eleven other months?  No, not really.  So what, exactly, does it accomplish?

And, while I’m asking, what is the purpose of a Mental Health Awareness month?  It seems to me, whether the special month is set aside for autism, mental health, or black history, the purpose is to highlight how much the mass audience really doesn’t care.  Okay, so, yes, they care enough to give us a month.  Whoop-tee-doo.  And so, what, it just goes away the other eleven months out of the year?  For them, maybe.

Actually, for some people, that’s exactly it.  Some people have the luxury of being unaware of mental health 100% of the year, so—to make themselves feel like they care—they take a month out of their otherwise blissfully unaware lives and…what?  Raise money?  Talk about mental health?  Something?

Now, I’m sure some of you are going to say that I have it all wrong.  This is a month where people with mental health challenges raise awareness among those unsuspecting healthy minds and build acceptance and understanding.  Sure, well, maybe that’s the point, but it’s May 23 and I heard about this awareness month on the 20th.  In other words, though I have mental health challenges and am married to a man with mental health challenges, I was blissfully unaware of this month for 2/3rds of said month.  So, if the job is to actually raise awareness, mission totally not accomplished.

Maybe it’s just that May follows so closely after April, but I’m tired of awareness campaigns that are here and gone, accomplishing no real awareness in the meantime.  I’m tired of the “Oh, but we didn’t knows” that fail to disguise the real message of “Oh, but we don’t really care.”

Mental health, autism, black history, and all the rest…they’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.  If we, as a society, could really admit that to ourselves, then we wouldn’t need to set aside a month for any of them.  I’d rather be unaware of the month and be aware of reality, but maybe that’s just me.

Review: Waiting for Superman

  • Posted on May 20, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Waiting for Superman is a thought-provoking documentary.  Artistically, I think the filmmaker did a good job of creating a narrative arc and providing a dense piece, full of information.  However, I would caution any viewer from “buying” the message entirely.  The film was full of information; some of that information was factual and some of that information was opinion.  The danger is that much of the opinion was presented as facts.  It’s difficult to sort the two out without extensive research, so the entirety should be viewed with skepticism.

One thing I find very important in this film is that they stress how essential good teachers are to the education of children, but how the system—including, but not limited to the teachers’ unions and politicians that keep bad teachers in their positions—is dysfunctional.  That focus, that differentiation is very important.

Before writing this, I read quite a few scathing critiques.  Not surprisingly, many if not all of these critiques were written by people who have a vested interest in the status quo.  I would recommend against “buying” their messages as well, for much the same reason.  Facts and opinions are not the same, and yet both sides present their opinions as if they were facts.  This is unethical and it is not done in the best interests of the recipients of these services, namely the children.  Furthermore, over-simplifying and filtering an opponent’s message in order to set up a straw-man—which is what most of the critiques I read did—is unethical and logically fallible.  We’re talking Critical Thinking 101 here, so it’s especially sad that it was done by our teachers and administrators who should know better.  Finally, while these critiques occasionally would admit the problem is real, none of them offered a solution besides pushing forward with what we know doesn’t work.  These people are barriers to change and, for the sake of our children, change is necessary.

That does not mean that the changes proposed in the film are as solid and successful and inclusive as the makers of Waiting for Superman would have us to believe.  The narrator of the film referred to “every child,” meaning that even poor children and children “lost” in the worst neighborhoods should have access to a top-quality education.  And that’s fine.  I’m on-board with that message.  BUT that message does NOT include every child.  This film failed in addressing the needs of every child with the filmmaker’s choice to exclude special education from the discussion and from his documentary.  The discussion of quality education must address the needs of all children!  That not only includes the poor performers, but also children with special educational needs that require educational services other children do not need. 

Granted, that issue is not the point of the documentary.  However, it is my opinion that it should not be a separate issue.  Successful schools are schools that can meet the needs of all their students.  Changes in education cannot exclude the needs of children with special educational needs, including those who are behind due school failure and those who need special services to succeed in any school setting.  We must acknowledge that “what works” for many children will not and cannot work for ALL children.  There is no single SOLUTION.   This presentation, this complete absence of all things special education, damages the credibility of the entire documentary in my opinion; and yet, reading so many negative critiques of the film that offer no solutions, no alternatives, and no change leaves me feeling that we’re right back where we started.  It was even in the film.  This dialogue is not about the kids.  Instead, it’s about the adults, each with their own bias and their own self-interest and their own ideas.

Wandering: A Warning

  • Posted on March 18, 2011 at 4:10 PM

ASAN has issued a warning and a call for action.  You can read a brief overview here if you did not get the message.

ASAN has many valid concerns and complaints about this proposal.  Generalizing any behavioral pattern based on poor research is unwise and irresponsible.  From a social justice perspective, attributing a diagnosis to a group of people for whom the diagnosis is accurate to an unknown percentage of the population is an act of stereotyping, which further demeans a minority group and raises serious doubts about the integrity of the medical community.  Furthermore, “wandering” as a medical diagnosis seems questionable in and of itself.

However, as a parent of three children who have exhibited wandering behaviors, I must also object with the language ASAN used to motivate their supporters.  First and foremost, I think it is inaccurate to assume this diagnosis will “encourage” schools to use restraints and isolation.  These activities do occur and they are dangerous.  They should be stopped.  But they are used by unethical schools and staff for the sake of their own convenience; a diagnosis will not justify the use of these methods to otherwise ethical and caring individuals.  Wandering is a safety risk and schools have a responsibility to address that risk and accommodate children who wander.  All three of my boys have wandered at one point or another, and their schools have addressed those risks and found ways to accommodate them, not with restraints or seclusion, but by ensuring their safety and giving them appropriate opportunities to explore their environments.  Parents and schools share responsibility for formulating an adequate and appropriate plan to address these concerns in a child’s IEP.  I also object to the suggestion that wandering is a reaction to “abusive or sensorily overwhelming environments.”  While this can be the case, wandering is a behavior with many causes.  All the wandering I’ve seen associated with autism has been about curiosity and lack of danger awareness.  Children are curious.  Those who lack danger awareness may seek to satisfy their curiosity in unsafe ways, including wandering.  Associating wandering with abuse is far too reminiscent of the “refrigerator mother” theory and other ways that have been used to suggest poor parenting as the culprit for complex behaviors.  Such a generalization can be just as dangerous as the one ASAN seeks to prevent.

It can take less than 30 seconds for a potential wanderer to get out and away from an unsecure environment.  Hyper-vigilance does not equal safety in such an environment.  Measures need to be taken, but they need to be taken in a respectful manner, i.e. not relying on restraints and seclusion.  Attention should also be paid to the environment itself.  If the environment is uncomfortable, then corrections should be made to that environment.  But caregivers must also be aware of other factors, like curiosity and limited awareness of dangers, when addressing safety concerns for a child who wanders.

Wandering is a real problem, and it can be terrifying.  Some children who wander go missing for days before he or she is found, if he or she is ever found or found alive.  That’s terrifying and harmful for everyone involved.  Even if a child is missing for only a few hours or even a few minutes, it’s terrifying.  Yet it serves no good purpose to turn this challenge into a stereotype.  It’s an individual issue and the solutions are individual and specific.  It is irresponsible for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to attempt to make wandering—a behavior attributable to many factors—a medical diagnosis.  It is irresponsible for schools and other organizations to use such a diagnosis to justify harmful practices.  It is also irresponsible of ASAN to attempt to motivate their supporters by noting possible worst-case scenarios from a social justice perspective without also noting that there are real concerns about the safety of some individuals with autism.

Testing: Then and Now

  • Posted on February 28, 2011 at 10:30 AM

A recent article by Mike Stobbe “uncovers” the little known history of human experimentation in the United States.

Shocking as it may seem, U.S. government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates.

Ethics is somewhat progressive.  What once seemed acceptable now seems abominable.  Yet, sometimes I have to wonder how some acts were ever justified.  Then again, there are throwbacks who still can justify their behavior, though it’s clearly unethical by contemporary standards.  Now, we apologize for past mistakes:

Much of this horrific history is 40 to 80 years old, but it is the backdrop for a meeting in Washington this week by a presidential bioethics commission. The meeting was triggered by the government’s apology last fall for federal doctors infecting prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis 65 years ago.

U.S. officials also acknowledged there had been dozens of similar experiments in the United States -- studies that often involved making healthy people sick.

This ugly history of unethical human experimentation is not news to me.  American doctors conducted many studies using eugenically defined “undesirables”—convicts, disabled people, and the mentally ill—to test their scientific theories.  The AP article cited some horrific examples, which I’ll let you check out at your leisure.

Strikingly, though it was never considered particularly outrageous, once it was considered eccentric:

Prisoners have long been victimized for the sake of science. In 1915, the U.S. government’s Dr. Joseph Goldberger - today remembered as a public health hero - recruited Mississippi inmates to go on special rations to prove his theory that the painful illness pellagra was caused by a dietary deficiency. (The men were offered pardons for their participation.)

But studies using prisoners were uncommon in the first few decades of the 20th century, and usually performed by researchers considered eccentric even by the standards of the day. One was Dr. L.L. Stanley, resident physician at San Quentin prison in California, who around 1920 attempted to treat older, “devitalized men” by implanting in them testicles from livestock and from recently executed convicts.

Newspapers wrote about Stanley’s experiments, but the lack of outrage is striking.

I suspect eugenics theories made it more socially acceptable here, just as it did in Germany.  However, there’s a chance that it is NOT over—perhaps these unethical activities have simply been moved off shore to target different vulnerable populations:

Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general reported that between 40 and 65 percent of clinical studies of federally regulated medical products were done in other countries in 2008, and that proportion probably has grown. The report also noted that U.S. regulators inspected fewer than 1 percent of foreign clinical trial sites.

Monitoring research is complicated, and rules that are too rigid could slow new drug development. But it’s often hard to get information on international trials, sometimes because of missing records and a paucity of audits, said Dr. Kevin Schulman, a Duke University professor of medicine who has written on the ethics of international studies.

So now President Obama has ordered an investigation.  Has research ethics really progressed?  Or is it just that society has progressed enough to express the outrage that’s due?

Wisconsin’s Teacher Protests: What the Protests are NOT About

  • Posted on February 26, 2011 at 3:07 AM

Earlier this week, I wrote about the protests in Wisconsin that hit the national news feeds so hard.  It was the kind of political post that I try to stay away from on this blog.  However, I felt it necessary to post about what the protest were about, before I posted about what the protests were NOT about.

In the United States, we spend more to educate consumers about what products to buy than we spend to educate our children.  This fact provides a disturbing illustration of US priorities when it comes to education.  We do not pay teachers enough to hire and retain the high quality teachers our children deserve.  We do not devote enough resources to providing our children with the high quality learning environments they deserve.  We do not devote enough resources to develop the best methodologies for teaching our children, nor do we train our teachers in the existing best practices as our children deserve.

Imagine if parents, teachers, school administrators, and community leaders protested our country low prioritization of education.  Imagine if it happened in just one state.  The way the protests in Madison have spread, we could raise awareness to new heights.  Instead, teachers protest over their union rights, their pay raises, and the amount they must contribute to their benefits packages.  If the protesters in Madison are to be believed, union rights are sacrosanct, but our children’s rights to a high quality education are not.  If teachers have to be let go, if classes have to be shut down, if services for students with disabilities need to be pared back or eliminated—well, that’s fine.  Just don’t touch their union rights. 

Our public schools are in trouble.  Unions do not help the situation.  It seems like nobody is really helping the situation.  Our priorities haven’t changed.  Our country still wants to provide students with an assembly-line style education for as little money as possible.  As much as special education rights represent a dramatic shift from that mentality, that shift has only gone so far.  Too many people argue that special education deprives “real” students of the resources they need.  Providing those “real” students with individualized education isn’t even on the negotiating table.

Why not?  Why aren’t our children our highest priority?  Why is it so easy for education budgets to be attacked?  Why do we, the voting public, tolerate the federal government’s inadequate support for federally mandated education, while our politicians vote for pork barrel spending to buy off their constituents?

I’m a fiscal conservative.  I believe the government should live within a balanced budget.  But I also believe that our spending priorities have to benefit the people—not just some special interest groups, but all the people—first and foremost.  Few things satisfy that priority like providing our children with a high quality education.  But that isn’t our priority because the voting public, the protesters, and the lobbyists do not make it a priority—so our elected politicians do not have to either.

There are a lot of things worthy of protest.  There are a lot of things that are worth my time and energy.  Protecting union rights are not.  Once upon a time, when workers were systematically abused by their employers and unions fought against those abuses, the unions were worth fighting for.  Now unions are a political force unto themselves, answerable first and foremost to themselves, and then to the workers they represent.  Like any other special interest group limiting information or disseminating misinformation is their stock and trade, a means of influencing their base, and they are good at it.

The irony is that if our present day workers—including the college-educated teachers who are currently teaching our kids—had a better education, then these tactics wouldn’t work nearly so well.  But, that’s not really ironic at all.  It’s the whole point.  Why would decision makers provide their constituents with a high quality education when doing so would require them to meet higher standards of political discourse and legislative action?  It’d be like shooting themselves in the foot.

Wisconsin’s Teacher Protests: What the Protests are About

  • Posted on February 21, 2011 at 6:39 AM

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep my political blogging past in the past.  When Wisconsin makes the national news day after day, it’s difficult.  When my kids’ schools are closed due to political protests, it’s difficult.  I wanted to post about the protests on Friday, but I resisted…for a while, anyway.  The more I thought about it, the more I saw this as an opportunity to post about what the protests are NOT about.  But first, I’ll post about what the protests are about.

According to the union protesters:

  • This bill eliminates the union’s ability bargain with local governments and endangers their union’s ability to protect workers’ rights.

According to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker:

  • Wisconsin is broke.
  • He was elected to shore up deficit spending.
  • He will reduce how much money the state provides to local governments to fund vital services.
  • This bill provides tools to those local governments to keep government jobs and keep costs under control.
  • This bill does so by increasing the amount government workers must contribute to their retirement and health care benefits, while limiting the union’s ability to negotiate with local governments, requiring local voter approval for negotiations.
  • Workers rights are protected by Wisconsin law, not the union.

Personally, I think the union has motivated the workers they represent to protest due to another facet of this bill:  It gives worker the choice to join the union or not.  Workers currently do not have that choice in Wisconsin.  For example, if you are hired to work as a teacher for the public school system, you are automatically part of the union and you automatically have to pay union dues.  You join the union or you don’t work as a teacher.  The unions want to protect this status quo, because it increases their rosters and the amount of dues they collect.  I believe that is the primary reason the union has worked so hard to stir up their members.

This is also the primary reason I do not agree with the protesters.  There is a lot of misinformation being disseminated on the news stations.  Hailing back to my political blogging days, I did something profound:  I actually read the bill.  Governor Walker is right; it does limit the union’s powers.  It does not eliminate them as protesters and pundits have claimed.  It also does not increase the amounts workers will have to contribute by nearly as much as many pundits have claimed.  However, the bill is also disingenuous, as most pieces of legislation are.  It is disingenuous because it lumps things like whether or not union membership can be forced on a worker with an emergency budget bill.  That kind of thing happens a lot, but it shouldn’t.

While I support Governor Walker’s efforts to respond to the havoc the recession has wrought on Wisconsin’s economy, I don’t support his decision to include anti-union legislation with an emergency budget bill.  While I support workers’ right to protest for the issues that are important to them, I cannot join in a protest that supports forcing workers into a union.  Nor do I think it reasonable for government workers to stay isolated from the effects of the recession when that isolation contributes to the hardships the taxpayers must endure.  It’s a tough choice, but Governor Walker was elected to make it.

The Bureaucratic Failing

  • Posted on February 11, 2011 at 8:26 PM

Human societies have this nasty habit of needing something long before they figure out how to meet that need.  The need creates the motivation to fulfill that need, which, by necessity, means we hurt until that need is filled.  The hurt grows until it motivates us to develop the means to meet the need.  This is a natural, normal process which has led to a great deal of human progress.

Bureaucracy is one socio-technological system we’ve devised to meet certain needs, mostly related to managing the volume of work created by our massive societies.  In theory, bureaucracy is efficient.  In reality, bureaucracy often sacrifices effectiveness for efficiency by divorcing decisions from reality.

Consider health care:  Many of us believe health care is a basic human right.  From a social justice perspective, I would agree.  It is unjust to have health care and not to disperse it to the whole population.  From a more pragmatic perspective, the idea is problematic.  The freedom of speech, the freedom of ideas, the freedom of association—these are basic human rights.  Health care cannot be a basic human right any more than food or education can be a basic human right.  You see, from a pragmatic perspective, the freedom to communicate, share ideas, and choose with whom we associate requires others not to hinder us.  Whereas, the supposed rights to health care, food and education requires others to provide for us.  These are two very different concepts.  On the one hand, the freedom to communicate would best be described as a right we naturally have unless we are deprived of that right.  Whereas, health care would be best described as an entitlement we’d like to claim.

Furthermore, providing these entitlements require us to be technologically advanced enough to develop systems that can effectively provide these goods and services.  No such systems exist.  We have health care systems, but they do not provide health care goods and services to everyone.  We have food systems, but they do not provide food to everyone.  We have educational systems, but they do not provide education to everyone.

To help compensate for the lack of an effective system, we use bureaucracies to allocate limited resources.  These bureaucracies choose who gets what goods and services.  Currently, our health care system relies on a hodge-podge of bureaucracies with different goals.  There are federal bureaucracies that regulate the resources themselves—further limiting the resources that are available in attempt to ensure those resources are safe for use.  There are federal and state bureaucracies that provide limited resources.  There are private bureaucracies that provide limited resources for profit.  There are private bureaucracies that provide limited resources without the pursuit of profit.  There are federal and state bureaucracies that distribute access to the limited resources that are available.  There are private bureaucracies which distribute access to the limited resources that are available for profit.  There are private bureaucracies which distribute access to the limited resources that are available without the pursuit of profit.  In effect, these bureaucracies are often at cross-purposes and make a mess of things.

These cross-purposes make a mess of things all by themselves.  This mess is exacerbated by the fact that the nature of a bureaucracy often sacrifices effectiveness for efficiency by divorcing decisions from reality.  You see, in a bureaucratic system you have someone sitting at a desk with a piece of paper or information on a computer screen.  That person has to make a decision based on that information.  This person makes hundreds of decisions like this a day.  It’s a job.  It can be a tedious and thankless job.  That decision is influenced or dictated by decisions made by other people sitting at other desks.  None of those people are connected to the provider or the recipient.  The decision is divorced from reality.  For the decision maker, the significance of the decision resides in how it will affect the person’s job, not in how it will impact the provider or the recipient.  The real impact of the decision is unknown and unimportant to the person responsible for making it.

That is our system.  That will remain our system after Obamacare is enacted.  To solve our problems, we need new systems that can supply the entitlements we’re demanding.  Obamacare doesn’t do that.  Right now, we lack the technological sophistication to do that.  In the meantime, while we’re waiting and hurting for the progress that will make that possible, to satisfy the requirements of social justice, we need to dismantle the broken systems and replace it with systems designed to meet the needs to the best of our abilities.  Obamacare doesn’t do that.  The system itself is broken and Obamacare adds layers of bureaucracy to a system already broken by bureaucracy.  Bureaucracy is the best we can do, because we haven’t devised something better.  But Obamacare is not the best we can do.  Obamacare complicatedly adds more cross-purposes, not fewer.  Obamacare further divorces decision makers from the people their decisions affect.  And, worse still, Obamacare turns the entitlement we want—that which we want to be provided—into a legal obligation we cannot avoid.  It gives more power to the government.  It takes away the freedom of choice—the choice not to pay into a broken system—and forces people to entrust their health care into the hands of bureaucrats who are, of a necessity, divorced from their reality.