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In today's pages: Health care reform and the nature of protests

gazahealth care reformisraeljimmy cartermissileprotestsracism

Carter The Times editorial board praises President Obama for scrapping the missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, calling the program "immensely expensive technology that still doesn't work, designed for a threat that may never materialize."

As various versions of health-care reform wend their contentious way around Washington, the board finds several weaknesses in the proposal by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) but finds reason to hope those very weaknesses will help "bring the public's focus back to the flaws in the current system and the challenges posed by any attempt to fix them."

Health care reform and several other moves and policies by the Obama administration have led to some vitriolic protest, which prompted  former President Jimmy Carter to declare that most of this protest was racial in nature. The board finds a kernel of truth in Carter's statement but also sees much legitimate protest about political differences.

On the other side of the fold, two writers debate whether the U.N. Human Rights Council report alleging war crimes by Israel in its Gaza fighting was the product of a prejudicial probe or a clear indication of abuses of international law that should not be tolerated by Israel's allies.

Photo of Jimmy Carter by Paul Abell / AP

--Karin Klein



Comments () | Archives (11)

The comments to this entry are closed.

andrew nelson

Is this an opinion piece with a message or just meeting a deadline?

The only kernel of truth, here, is an across the board rejection of a failed new policy fueled by an ancient and irrelevant progressive liberal philosophy.

Dr. Gregory Garamoni

Regarding health care reform protests:

There are four fronts -- philosophical, constitutional, economic, and pragmatic -- in the war against health care reform.

The outcome on the philosophical front will determine who wins the war.

Battles are being fought between opposing sides issues in moral, social, and political philosophy -- between an alliance of liberty -- rational egoism, individualism, and laissez-faire capitalism -- and an alliance of coercion -- altruism, collectivism, and statism.

The United States was founded on the idea individual rights. Our founding documents are imbued with the moral philosophy of principled self-interest and the social-political philosophy of individualism -- the theory that individuals are ends-in-themselves; that each one of us owns our own life; that each one of us has the right to exist for our own sake; that no one has the right to force anyone to live for the sake of others; that each one of us has the right to be left alone to pursue our own ends in life as long as we don’t infringe on the liberty of others to do the same; that we should deal with one another by voluntary means; that the proper role of government is to protect our rights by legislating, adjudicating, and enforcing laws that prohibit other individuals or groups -- foreign and domestic -- from initiating force against us.

Our founding documents did not openly embrace the moral philosophy of altruism and the social-political philosophy of collectivism -- the theory that the interests of the collective (tribe, church, monarchy, Aryan nation, proletariate, society, “public interest”, etc.) take priority over the interests of each individual in it; that the individual has value only insofar as he or she serves the collective; that the proper role of government is to subjugate the individual to the collective; that the government is entitled to own, use, and dispose of the land, the means of production, personal property -- even the lives of individuals, as necessary, to promote the welfare of the collective.

If you buy into the altruist claims that there is a moral imperative to help people in need, that you have a moral obligation to help people in need, that you are your brother’s keeper, that people in need have a right to be helped, that people in need are morally entitled to your help, that depriving them of help is just evil -- then you are morally disarming yourself and can’t fight very effectively for liberty in health care.

If you can argue that people have to take responsibility for their own health care, that those who are unable to do so must rely on charity, that throughout history fellow citizens, doctors, and business owners have practiced the virtue of benevolence, that they will continue to help people in need, but that forcing them to do so at the point of a gun is immoral -- then you are morally armed to fight effectively for liberty in health care

Dr. Gregory Garamoni
Doctors on Strike for Freedom in Medicine


As for Jimmy Carter why listen to him now, he was terrible when he was President. All he is now is a grumpy old man who should go home and sit on his porch in his rocking chair. I am against all government intursion into private business and my life. I'm against President Obama on healthcare not because he is black, white, green or any other color, race plays no role in my opposition to his plan. It has to do taxing the people to death and finally distroying what's left of this country by committing financial suicide.

Jon Healey

@Dr. Garamoni -- I assume you don't treat Medicare or Medicaid patients, then? I also suppose you don't drive on the public roads, which are built with money coerced from gasoline buyers? Oh, wait -- you don't drive, because if you did, you'd be coerced by the state into buying an insurance policy that, chances are, you won't need. Have you found a way not to contribute to Social Security, which uses your payroll taxes to pay benefits to today's retirees? And heaven forfend that you ever *collect* Social Security or Medicare benefits, which will be financed not by your own contributions but from younger workers' payments.

I could go on and on, but I hope you get my point. Your argument, besides being morally suspect (I mean, do you really think people are poor by choice, or that all illness is a consequence of poor behavior?), ignores the purpose of pooled efforts. We collectively finance Medicaid for the same reason we collective finance the Defense Department -- it's in everyone's interest to promote public health (e.g., preventing pandemics), but no individual can do that effectively on his or her own. It's in everyone's interests to have an efficient and effective healthcare system, but the current system is unmistakably broken. If you doubt that, look at the projected increases in private health insurance premiums over the next decade. This isn't a philosophical debate, no matter how much you'd like it to be. It's a practical one. How do you correct the incentives in the system? How do you promote public health when insurance is increasingly unaffordable? How do you keep demand in check when people's health, or even their lives, are at issue? How do you promote technological advancements that lower costs, as they do in most other industries, instead of driving them ever upward, as they do in health care?

The bills working their way through Congress wouldn't impinge on your freedom as a doctor to offer fee-for-service medicine to anyone who wants to pay cash out of pocket, just as you can today. Your liberty as a professional will not be diminished, and you won't have to spend a moment treating anyone too poor to cover your fees. Just don't go to work in an ER, 'cause you'd be coerced into treating anyone who needed emergency help.

Leo R Doucet

As a member of the developed world who is not American I would like help with some puzzling questions. US citizens permit their "government" to tap their phones, interfere with their internet, read their mail, suspend Habeas Corpus, and imprison and torture their citizens without recourse, They permit government to hand out a trillion dollars to a bunch of crooks and then they say they do not want and can't afford to have "government" give them a decent health care plan such as we enjoy in Canada and so many other democratic free countries. In all due respect does this not seem bizarre?

Gregg Valenzuela MD


An endless line of uninsured poor
wait to be triaged in the emergency room
for immediate care of chronic problems
with no hope of follow up or prevention
while politicians and soft hearted
ill-informed citizens wring their hands
over triage and withheld medical services
and denial of benefits to an army
of patients already on medicare and Medicaid,
and those soon to be added
to the new expanded government health plan.
Triage and denial of access
has a long and honored history in this country
which has made medical care an entitlement
only if you are sick enough to wait
in an ER for one time care
or qualify as being old or poor enough
and can vote to protect your benefits.
Universal health care with all the high tech
never say die and life regardless of quality or expense
forever benefits to the end of the republic
(which may sooner than later due to bankruptcy)
necessarily triages everyone without private insurance
and would leave the nation with health
relegated like education, wealth, property, and happiness-
As the founding fathers intended!?

Robert Bourque

Do I want government bureaucrats deciding on my health care? You bet I do! Because the other choice is to have corporate bureaucrats deciding on my health care. I have some control over the government bureaucrats: I can vote out their bosses who tell them what to do. I have no control over the corporate bureaucrats. They can do what they please, and pay off politicians to stay out of the way.

Government bureaucrats will charge a few percent for the administrative work they would do, which is like what they do for Social Security and Medicare. Corporate bureaucrats now charge 30% to pay their CEOs hundreds of millions of dollars and billions to their investors.

"Health care" companies do not do health care. They simply collect premiums from us, get the bills from doctors and hospitals, decide how much they are going to pay, and pay it. They are just pass-throughs. And they skim that 30% right off the top while doing it. Of course they are going to fight tooth-and-nail against a government-run health plan: It would make them irrelevant and put them out of business. And of course they don't want to give up that cushy gravy train.

In all the talk-show bickering, these simple facts above are being obscured. The health care companies don't care about us. Like all corporations, they are in it to make money. And what an easy way to do it. Why should their ease and comfort be at our expense? Get rid of these corporate bureaucrats and let health care be run by people we have control over - our elected officials.

Geoff Hasler

It is absurd to denigrate Obama criticism as racism. To criticize a President who has enjoyed unrivaled media support is legitimate.

A Student

These comments are just like the ones on Youtube, except on steroids. I agree with Andrew, well almost. I got nothing from reading this article.


Did anybody read the big conservative plan for Health Care. Don't drink, don't smoke and save your money for when you get sik. Have about $100,000.00 saved up. Give the insurance Co. More power. Now take that and lets have some town hall mettings.


Up to this point the protests have ignored that major issue in health care, how can we change our lifestyles to add more exercise and improve our health. The only effective long-term solution to health care reform is preventative health care. We must take our health into our own hands, we must improve our lifestyles through better nutrition and exercise. It is not a cure all, but this small step will save money and make people feel better. Luckily, there are several online tools, such as Holosfitness.com, that can help people get in shape, stay in shape, and lead healthy lifestyles. Don't wait for congress to come up with a proposal that will satisfy only a few, take health into your own hands!



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