Rick Akin: What have we learned?

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Almost a year has passed since the first Conservative Commentary ran in the Pilot. One has appeared in this space virtually every week since then, and even two have run at a time on some occasions. These commentaries are the product of volunteer contributions, mostly by locals, with a few contributions from state leaders such as John Andrews, Mark Hillman and Bob Beauprez. Writing these commentaries and having the courage to put one's name on them is not a particularly easy thing. I take my hat off to all who have contributed for a job well done.

Our purpose in this effort has been to stimulate thought and discussion, and we have been successful in this. I hope that we have caused some to stop and reflect, rather that just repeating the party line. I hope that we have caused some to realize that the principles on which this nation was founded are as relevant today as they were in 1776. If we have been successful in this with just one person, the effort has been worth it.

That being said, we do receive a good bit of feedback that is only partisan and is not at all thoughtful. We are not going to stop working on these folks. Engaging in political discussion should not be like rooting for your favorite sports team, where blind loyalty is the order of the day.

In this regard, there are a few misconceptions that seem to crop up over and over that I would like to take on directly.

1. "Conservative" and "Republican" are not synonymous. You do not have to look far to see Republicans that are not particularly conservative. Examples include your state representative and senator, and, in many regards, George W. Bush and John McCain. In these commentaries, we have criticized, sometimes harshly, Republicans who have strayed. Pointing out behavior by a Republican that is inconsistent with the principles set out in these commentaries does not mean we are wrong in our position. What it does mean is that the cited Republican has lost his way.

2. "Limited government" does not mean "no government." We repeatedly hit the theme that government should be limited and taxes should be low. This is not to say that government has no legitimate role. Police and fire protection, the administration of justice, highway systems, and national defense are clearly proper roles of government. In a recent online comment, a writer indicated that my argument for self-reliance and limited government was negated by the fact that I have degrees from state universities. I think the vast majority of people would agree that public education is a legitimate role of government, but to make it clear, the fact that I have degrees from state universities does not mean that you are justified in forcing the rest of us to pay for your health insurance.

3. "Self-Reliance" does not mean cooperating with no one. To the joy of some and the horror of others, I have often used sports analogies to point out the virtue of self-reliance and the abilities and potential in each of us. It also points up the misguided notion that government needs to take care of us. This does not mean that there is not broad cooperation among members of society continuously. However, engaging in commerce, volunteer activities, and voluntary society is quite different than having the government force you to do or contribute something. To answer one recent online comment, the fact that there are volunteer pacers, crew, and aid stations at the Leadville Trail 100 does not mean that you are entitled to force the rest of us to pay for your health insurance.

Rick Akin is an Attorney practicing in Steamboat Springs and Austin, Texas, a former member of the Pilot and Today Editorial Board, and a Director of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado. His great-grandparents moved to Steamboat in 1926. He holds a BA from Oklahoma and a doctorate from the Univ. of Texas. He will never win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Comments

424now 5 years, 11 months ago

Spuk,

That is one of the best things a young or reasonably young person can get into. I use one for my dental and it works very well.

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Matthew Stoddard 5 years, 12 months ago

"Engaging in political discussion should not be like rooting for your favorite sports team, where blind loyalty is the order of the day."

Then why is every Conservative Commentary the equivalent of a cheerleading session?

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David Carrick 5 years, 12 months ago

QuitYerWhining,

You said "highway systems are falling apart and the administration of justice has become a farce under conservative leadership. ie Renditions, Guantanamo Bay, Presidential signing statements, Scooter Libby pardon, Valerie Plame leak, continual violations of international laws, billions of no bid contract abuses swept under the rug, etc etc etc. I honestly don't know how "conservative" charlatans can keep a straight face (at least publicly) when they spout this tripe."

At least the "non-conservatives" have clean hands when it comes to such outrages as those you outlined...Yeah, right; what a crock!

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ybul 5 years, 12 months ago

Our way of paying for health care is abysmal.... You are right, we fail to pay for nutrient dense foods as we want what hits are pocket books the least.

With universal health care, how do you compensate the individual who takes care of themselves, with that oil change (exercise, buying fruits and vegetables as opposed to soda pop and potato chips).

When does personal responsibility enter into the argument? The government has proven itself inept at almost every task it takes on.

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Murray Tucker 5 years, 12 months ago

Believe it or not Rick, We the People ARE the insurers of last resort. As George W. Bush put it, anyone can go to an ER to get "the finest medical care in the world." Consideration of payment comes after the service that hospitals are obligated to provide. Now guess who pays. YOU and ME, and the ER is the most expensive place to get medical services.

As the mechanic for the Oil Filter advertisement said: Pay me now or pay me (much more) later. Our way of financing health care is abysmal and WE do pay MORE.

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ybul 5 years, 12 months ago

Comparing health care to an oil change is ignorant. That oil change is exercise, diet, and multiple other factors which keep toxins out of your body. So your idea would be for the government to pay for a health club membership, force everyone to eat a proper diet (yet some may be allergic to what the government diet is).

The issue is way more complex than the government (especially the US federal government) can handle.

We only have one party in this country today, that is the corporatist party. Lets get Hilary in the White House, as someone who made (in conjunction with her hubby) 109 million, knows what it is like to be average and how to help the middle class. The only thing that is going to happen with any candidate right now is that the corporations are going to extend their control over everything we see and do.

Lets have a 100% tax and dole out what we can spend monthly, and see how hard people work at their jobs.

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QuitYerWhining 5 years, 12 months ago

"...the administration of justice, highway systems, and national defense are clearly proper roles of government."

Well at least 1/3 of the equation is receiving more than it's fair share of the pie......typical conservative welfare... for conservatives government has a place in people's lives alright: its to collect taxes to subsidize corporate welfare. That's not considered an "entitlement program" because people get rich off of it. Let the rest eat cake. Our highway systems are falling apart and the administration of justice has become a farce under conservative leadership. ie Renditions, Guantanamo Bay, Presidential signing statements, Scooter Libby pardon, Valerie Plame leak, continual violations of international laws, billions of no bid contract abuses swept under the rug, etc etc etc. I honestly don't know how "conservative" charlatans can keep a straight face (at least publicly) when they spout this tripe.

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ybul 5 years, 12 months ago

Yes the processing is a good point. However, who is going to process payments under Obama's idea? The federal government, and Katrina has show how poorly they handle a situation or how about the military medical facility in DC.

Yes, Sign me up for the federal governments health care program.

And who will outlaw the fried twinkies, or who will ensure that teeth are brushed after each meal so that they do not fall out?

I agree that health care is a growing concern. However, there needs to be personal responsibility and some realization that paying more for nutrient dense food and exercise, are the oil changes that was spoken of above. The current debate is just figuring out who pays more later, it does not address the issue of the "Oil Change".

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SilverSpoon 5 years, 12 months ago

I agree, that health care should not be based on your income. One flat rate seems fair to me, unless you make less than 20k, I mean 20k is a joke of a salary, I couldn't even pay rent with such a piddly wage.
I bet your $200/month coverage includes no meds or doctor visits. And has a $2500 deductable? Get sick and see how well you are covered, you'll probably be covered in red tape.

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momofthree 5 years, 12 months ago

If you agree that public education is a legitimate role of government, then it logically follows that health care is too. They each achieve the same end: An educated citizenry is a productive one--people develop new technologies, new businesses, and so on, and so create wealth for themselves and society as a whole. But how can people who are sick do that? They can't. Just as it serves our country overall to have well-educated citizens, who are raised to be intelligent, thoughtful, curious and productive, it benefits all of us to have healthy citizens who can go to work, support their families, nurture their children and contribute to the community overall. Preventive medicine is critical in this, but since you can't prevent ALL illness, we also need to take care of those among us who are sick. Personally, I think that's a moral obligation, but if you don't, make it a capitalist one. Either argument works.

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Neil O'Keeffe 5 years, 12 months ago

That's right, it's all about you spukomy. Gotta love capitalism and our emphasis on the almighty$$$. Believe!

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ybul 5 years, 12 months ago

Mom, 99.9% of illness' are either caused by stress (a personal issue for the most part), nutrition (a personal issue) or toxins an issue that the current "neo-conservative" or democrats do not want to address, which should have an impact fee imposed to cover any health issues that arise in the future.

When we start imposing a tax upon mercury emissions from coal plants (either it is too hard on the poor or bad for business'), the emissions from automobiles, diesels especially as it causes asthma and other health issues (but this also has the same issues), and a myriad of other toxins that should have an impact fee imposed upon them.

This way if you want to trample the property rights of another's clean air or water. When looking at an issue from an actually conservative perspective, you need to look at it as does an action negatively impact anyone else, if so I should pay some sort of restitution for having done so, commensurate to the level of damage.

Heck if you want universal health care then tax the snot out of twinkies, soda pops, trans fats, and every other poorly processed food which harms our health, to pay for it. To institute Billarie's or Obama's plan will put this country so far in hawk that your three children will never know a day of life without being the indentured servant of the oligarchs(corporatists) who run this country.

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SilverSpoon 5 years, 12 months ago

Health care is $1 trillion/year industry. Insurance claims processing is $333 Billion/year industry.
If the money used for insurers were used for health care, we could have better care, better pay for nurses, more money for tests. This is basically Obama point. Take the insurers cut of the medical action and take it down to $0.00. Let the people who do the work(healing sick) make 100% of the proceeds.

Hilaries view is similar, only you still get extorted by the insurer you "choose".

Hardline republican McCain plan says, "insurance is 100% up to you". My opinion is that if this is true, we should not care for anyone who is un-insured. Just let people die. If you have cancer with insurance, they hope you die before you get costly treatment, it is most profitable, and would keeps premiums lower for the healthy. Don't get me wrong, I am all for Obama's plan and do not like to see people die. However, if religion weren't mixed in with the republican plan, we could just let people die. "It's their fault that they can't afford insurance", but morality of religion kicks in and we have to offer medicaid or medicare, after it is too late and costs 300% more to treat.

You can't have it both ways, with insurance you will always have high premiums, high deductible and a battle over what the insurer will cover; with socialized medicine you hope the inflated costs associated with insurance "paper pushing" would be better spent treating the sick.

Why would we want healthy happy, people in america?

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spukomy 5 years, 12 months ago

Hillary has a Health Care Plan. It will cost me between 5% (pipedream) and 10% (at least) of my earnings. Everyone will taxed at the same rate. So the guy making 60K will pay twice what the guy making 30K does, for the same exact coverage.

Right now I can get a great policy for under $200/month. If I make 50K, under her policy, I will have to pay twice that. And she is considering having the Gov't take it out of my paycheck.

Not only am I looking at my insurance premiums doubling, now Big Gov't may be involved. No thanks.

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JazzSlave 5 years, 12 months ago

momofthreee:

If publicly funded health care "logically follows" publicly funded education, then so does publicly funded auto repair. How can hardworking folk "create wealth for themselves and society as a whole" if they can't get to work?

The law requires that every driver carry auto insurance. If I total my truck, my coverage allows for a rental while I line up another set of wheels. We expect people to be responsible for their own transportation and attendant insurance. Why not their health?

When I was younger and just entering the workforce, I opted not to provide health insurance for myself, even on those occasions when my employer didn't furnish any. It was a risk I deliberately chose to take. I wound up having to deal with 2 or 3 sports-related injuries during that period, each treated at the ER. The ER fees were less than a health plan would have cost over that period of time, so the risk paid off. Now that I'm middle-aged, it's a risk I wouldn't take. I'd probably have to cancel my cigar club membership, live with my aging mountain bike instead up upgrading to the one I'm presently lusting after, ditto for the HD tv I'm shopping for, etc. The point is that I'd make sure the $ was there for health coverage, just as I do for my auto insurance. We demand that people do it for their cars. Why not for themselves and their families? Why doesn't one "logically follow" the other?

Personal responsibility. What a concept.

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ybul 5 years, 12 months ago

$20k in small town Kansas is a great income, can pay for a nice house in town.

My $200/month plan includes everything including my wife and kid. It has a $10,000/deductible. However, I put $250/month into a tax free savings account to cover future medical problems, as I plan ahead. I also change my oil with exercise, and don't eat junk, so I can build up a nice savings account for when a real medical issue crops up, and if none do I can use it during retirement as I "changed my oil" taking personal responsibility.

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blahblah 5 years, 11 months ago

Conservatives are for limited government unless the issue is military spending, a woman's right to choose, or gay rights. In those cases conservatives want to make sure government is fully immersed in people's lives. It's hypocracy.

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53native 5 years, 11 months ago

Here's what I'm always wondering: How many people who choose not to pay for health insurance have ski passes, cars less than 10 years old, memberships at the health club,golf passes, take expensive vacations to exotic locations, have the latest, greatest stereo, TV and mtn bike, eat out at resturants regularly, have a garage full of toys, etc.? Why the hell should those of us who pay for OUR health insurance also pay for THEIRS?? Through a program administered by the US Gov't??? Give me a break!!

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424now 5 years, 11 months ago

Thread,

Medical coverage has always been a luxury in the US. We have never had a socialist medical program for the masses. I have had to pay for my coverage in much the same way most covered people do. I sacrafice what is needed to make sure everyone in my family has the coverage they need. We don't own a boat, trailer or jet skis but if we get sick we get to see a doctor. My have gone up over the years but I'm lucky I got my coverage in 1986 and have had the same plan since. I don't pay as much as some but over the years I have paid my share. I continue to do just that, pay my share.

Now here come The adulterers wife and circle talking answer to the democrats dream and I hear everyone considering bringing the government into to make sure everyone is covered for medical.

Do you get dental with that?

When was the last time you appreciated the taxes taken out of you paycheck? Did you look down at the last check cut for you and think, "I sure am glad they take those taxes out of my check!"

What this proposition entails is a mandatory payment out of every paycheck you will ever recieve to pay for a universal health care system.

Is that really what you want?

Look at the Canadians and the system they have in place. Google it, Ask Jeeves, yahoo search. Before you go off telling everyone that universal health care is our moral obligation. Do the research. And just to be a little

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SilverSpoon 5 years, 11 months ago

My point is simple:
Most of your premium goes towards insurers doing the paper shuffling. Then your deductable goes to pay the doctor to do some work on you. So you pay over time and then when something happens, you pay again. The insurers gamble is that they can either deny payment for a claim, or that you don't reach the deductable. Either way, the insurer takes your premium to the bank(share holders).

In my opinion, the insurance company is like the mafia, only skimming from hospitals(they have to battle to get paid for services) and getting paid for their protection(THINGs may happen if you don't pay your premium)

Also, there are a lot of liftees with no health insurance. More power to them, I doubt they make $300/wk, the system is set up so if they get hurt, and have nothing, the E.R. has an open door policy, and collections has nothing they can take. Enjoy the POW, break a leg, and have a drink at the RIO on Uncle Sam, our taxes already have you paid for.

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spukomy 5 years, 11 months ago

rokboat, please explain why I'm supposed to like Hillary's plan.

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424now 5 years, 11 months ago

Jazz,

Not the Thomas brothers! Say it ain't so!

Thread,

We as a nation can not be held accountable for the guy who won't do the planning or refuses to do the proper preparation. There are plans currently in place for the disabled and the indigent. I am all for examining those and finding ways to improve them. I simply do not want Uncle Sam to take governance over yet another part of my life.

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spukomy 5 years, 11 months ago

Anyone interested in saving money on health care should enroll in a Health Savings Account. Tax free. http://www.healthinsurancecolorado.net/hsa.html

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