Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Socialism - The Early Years

Following the birth of political Socialism, based on socialist philosophers such as Plato, More, and Rousseau, the Fabian Society broke off from its parent organization, The Fellowship of the New Life.  Socialism soon found a nursery in colleges around the country and the world.

The Intercollegiate Socialist Society was a Socialist student organization from 1905-1921. It attracted many prominent intellectuals and writers and acted as the unofficial Socialist Party of America’s student wing. While not an “activist” group in the modern sense, the Society sponsored lecture tours, magazines, seminars and discussion circles all over the United States aimed at propagating Socialist ideas among America’s college students.  The group expanded into a more “Fabian" philosophy in the 1920s that did not focus exclusively, or even primarily, on college students. To symbolize the shift in emphasis the group changed its name to the League for Industrial Democracy.

 The Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) was a national non-party group dedicated to the organization of current and former collegians for the Socialist cause and the spreading of Socialist ideas on campus.

There were at least two isolated cases of socialist organization on campus prior to the establishment of the ISS in September 1905.  From about 1901 there was a college socialist club organized at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In its first year, the club had 11 student members and one professor and was limited to confirmed Socialists. The membership restriction was loosened in 1904, however, and the club grew, coming to hold weekly discussions on the exploitation of child labor, workplace safety, and other matters of general concern.

The second collegiate socialist club was organized at the University of California at Berkeley. Called the “Social Progress Club,” the group sprung into existence following a lecture by Jack London early in 1905.  [I never did care for Call of the Wild, no matter how my father pressed me to read it.]

The ISS proper was a product of the brain of Upton Sinclair. In December 1904, Sinclair drafted a call for the formation of a group which he called “the Intercollegiate Socialist Society,” which he circulated among leading socialist intellectuals for endorsement. The document was ultimately signed by nine others in addition to Sinclair, including Leonard Abbott, Clarence Darrow, Jack London, Graham Phelps Stokes, and William English Walling, among others. This call was published in various socialist publications in the spring of 1905 and a topic of discussion throughout that summer.

The ISS was formally launched at a meeting held on Sept. 12, 1905 at Peck's Restaurant in downtown New York.  More than 50 men and women were in attendance to give birth to the new organization, including such luminaries as Leonard Abbott, Mary Beard, Crystal Eastman, W.J. Ghent, and Gaylord Wilshire, in addition to a young Junior from Weslyan University named Harry Laidler. Upton Sinclair called the meeting to order.  The gathering decided to accept the name “Intercollegiate Socialist Society” and to open membership to college students, teachers, or graduates.  

Students were to be organized into college chapters on each campus and the central organization was to be funded by these local groups remitting a percentage of the dues collected to the national society. Officers were to consist of a President, two Vice Presidents, a Secretary, and a Treasurer -- each elected annually by vote of the whole society. Governance was to be handled by these five officers and six additional members of an Executive Committee. Term of office was to begin in April of each year.

The first slate of officers elected at the Sept. 1905 organizational meeting included the following:

President: Jack London; First Vice President: Upton Sinclair; Second Vice President: Graham Phelps Stokes; Secretary: M.R. Holbrook; Treasurer: Rev. Owen Lovejoy; Executive Committee: Rev. George Willis Cooke, Morris Hillquit, Robert Hunter, Harry Laidler, Katherine M. Meserole, George H. Strobell. Of this group of socialist worthies, only Harry Laidler was actually a current college student.

Organization proceeded slowly, with the group banned from many campuses by conservative administrators, who generally held veto power over the formation of student organizations in this period. Chapters were often small and their names frequently did not emphasize their connection to the national society or even with the socialist cause, as was the case, for example, with the Wesleyan Social Study Club headed by Harry Laidler, one of the first organized and affiliated with the ISS.

A second chapter was formed at Columbia University in New York City, with a student named Walter Lippmann (author of Social Opinion) playing the leading role. Over the course of the first three years, affiliated socialist clubs were organized at Harvard, Princeton, Barnard, New York University Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to meeting to discuss problems of the day, these groups distributed socialist propaganda and arranged lectures on their respective campuses in an attempt to extend support for the socialist cause.

In May 1907, Jack London resigned as President of the ISS and Graham Phelps Stokes assumed the post.  In the fall of 1907, the ISS Executive Committee decided to hire an organizer on a temporary basis, and a young socialist named Fred H. Merrick went to work in January 1908. From 1907 through 1910, the ISS maintained its office at the Rand School of Social Science in New York City.

The First Convention of the ISS was attended by 35 delegates, representing 7 colleges.  Late in 1910, the ISS obtained its own headquarters separate from the Rand School, a move marking its organizational independence.

The 9th Convention of the ISS was attended by delegates from around the country, representatives of the group chapters on some 40 college campuses. An executive session was held Dec. 27, followed by a dinner at which speakers discussed the question, “What Should Be the Next Development in National Policy?” Speakers included Norman Angell, Frank Boh, Louis Boudin, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, with Frederic C. Howe acting as chairman.

The second day consisted of a discussion of chapter problems and was held at City College. An evening reception was held for the delegates, with discussion of  “The Future of the Socialist Movement in this Country” held at the Civic Club, located on West 12th Street. Speakers included Algernon Lee and Scott Nearing. John Spargo was also slated to attend.

The final day of the convention was given to a prize competition with a question box on Socialism. “Tea and talk will take up the afternoon at the Civic Club,” the Evening Call noted. An evening meeting at the “People's House” of the Rand School was the concluding event, with Morris Hillquit and Henry Bruere speaking on “The Future of the City.”

In 1904, Sinclair spent seven weeks in disguise, working undercover in Chicago’s meatpacking plants to research his political fiction exposé, The Jungle.  Chicago – it figures.  He was a prolific author.  His other famous work was The Metropolis (1908), a utopian novel.  When The Jungle was published in 1906, it became a bestseller. With the income from The Jungle, Sinclair founded the utopian Helicon Home Colony in Englewood, N.J.   He ran as a Socialist candidate for Congress.   The colony burned down under suspicious circumstances within a year.  He died in Bound Brook, N.J.  And we wonder why New Jersey is a "Blue State".

James Graham Phelps Stokes was a scion of one of the city’s most prosperous families. He was one of 9 children. His great-grandfather, Thomas Stokes, came to New York from London at the end of the 18th Century and became a merchant, founding the establishment Phelps, Dodge & Co., the source of the family’s wealth.  His father was a banker and real estate developer and the patriarch of a large house on Madison Avenue.  His mother, Helen Louisa Phelps, was the descendant of a man who emigrated to America from England around 1630, putting her on level with the Mayflower Descendants, among the “First Families of America.” 

While attending Columbia University, Stokes became concerned with the plight of the American underclass and poverty. He served on the board of the University Settlement.  In November 1902 Graham Stokes left his father’s comfortable household to take up living himself in a settlement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan — one of the poorest areas of New York City.

Historians Arthur Zipser and Pearl Zipser write: 

“There was a lively intellectual atmosphere on the top floor of the University Settlement house, where the highly educated, mostly rich, young social workers had their residence, dining, and club rooms. It was a world apart from the lower floors of the building, where the regular settlement house functions were carried out among the denizens of the surrounding ghettoized slum. This separation between leaders and led was not the goal they were aiming for, which was the outreach of the privileged to the downtrodden.  But the separation was real.”

In 1921, the ISS decided it needed to expand its reach beyond intellectuals if it was to truly achieve Marx’s “Workers Paradise”.  To symbolize this shift in emphasis on the working man, the society changed its name to The League for Industrial Democracy.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Birth of Socialism

Since ancient times, Man has been putting himself on a pedestal, far above his fellow creatures, and just a notch below the gods.  In ancient times, there was a god for everything.  If one couldn’t do it for you – say Jupiter couldn’t help you win the lottery, someone else could.  Egypt tried monotheism for awhile, until the pharaoh got it into his head that he was the emblem of that one god.

The ancient Spartans were so certain they were better than everyone else, they set up their own martial academies, drilling their young men for hours in the heat and eating some sort of dreadful gruel.  Physical strength made you greater than the slaves you captured.  The Atheneans, meanwhile, thought greatness was all in your head and in the stars.  Only the first citizens of Greece could send their young men to study under Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (in that order).

Plato wrote a book called “The Republic” which outlines a society of the fittest, as it were. 

Many philosophers followed his teachings including More, Hobbes, and Marx.  Plato sets up his teacher, Socrates, as the narrator of the dialogue (as such books were called in those days).  As Socrates and his party are on their way to a festival, they call upon an old, wealthy man named Cephalus, who scolds Socrates for not visiting him more often.

“As a matter of fact, Cephalus,” I said, “I enjoy talking to very old men, for they have gone before us, as it were, on a road that we too may have to tread, and it seems to me that we should find out from them what it is like and whether it is rough and difficult or broad and easy.”

Plato’s original state begins with a simple society who, communally and through wages and trade, keep themselves adequately, taking care not to overpopulate.  That is a situation, Socrates tells his pupils, will bring about war and poverty.

But they insist on giving their perfect state luxuries and so, according to Socrates, the society begins its decline.  They must now be taxed for defense and other matters.  Still that’s not enough – they must have a ruler – a philosopher king.

Plato outlines how Man’s greed, avarice, and selfishness lead to his own downfall, from philosopher-king (monarchy) to timocracy (a state in which the ruling principle is honor and glory), oligarcy (government by the few which degenerates into aristocracy) to democracy and finally tyranny, evil people electing an evil ruler, both of whom live in fear of one another.

According to Plato, the perfect society is the first one, where one benevolent ruler distributes all the property.  Of course, his own predictions are quite correct.  Man being imperfect, he lives down to his worst self and winds up in tyranny.

The world doesn’t have to be that way, of course.  The middle course – a representative democracy - has proven best, if a little timocracy is thrown in.  Yet we never learn and we keep trying to build Plato’s Republic, More’s Utopia, only to have it fall down.  Time and again, after the failure, some new ruler arises who proclaims that men must be governed.

The aristocracy of the 19th Century, being classically educated, should have recognized the mistake.  Instead, the Europeans, weary of tyrannical monarchy and its constant wars, flocked to Marx, who proposed yet another utopia, complete with an elite, ruling class.  Later in the century, the Fellowship of the New Life (which we discussed in yesterday’s blog) formed in 1883.

Founder Thomas Davidson gave several public lectures, and slowly a small group of like-minded intellectuals began gathering with him for meetings at his home in London.  These meetings were designed to form a small society promoting the reorganization of individual life. This reorganization would then lead to slow progress towards a higher overall form of human society. Davidson was much more interested in discussion and meetings about this goal than scientific study or speculation.

He was a major proponent of a structured philosophy about religion, ethics, and social reform.   By the way, anyone who thinks social issues and politics are apples and oranges should know that the Greek word polis (from which we get the word politics) means “society” or “community”.   Which makes Obama a genuine political organizer.

Anyway, Davidson was a man full of ideas and wanted these ideas to see the light of day through his new society. Maurice Adams, one of the first members of the Fellowship, wrote of Davidson “ ‘Intellectual Honesty’ was his watchword, and what he had perhaps most at heart.”

At a meeting on Nov. 16, 1883, Adams wrote a summary of the society’s goals:

 “We, recognizing the evils and wrongs that must beset men so long as our social life is based upon selfishness, rivalry, and ignorance, and desiring above all things to supplant it by a life based upon unselfishness, love, and wisdom, unite, for the purpose of realizing the higher life among ourselves Society, to be called the Guild [Fellowship] of the New Life, to carry out this purpose.”

The initial Fellowship was composed of about nine members, one of whom was Dr. Burns Gibson.  He proposed a set of principles that took the form of a resolutions list.  At one meeting of the Fellowship, the “Vita Nuova” (New Life), was created and adopted by the group’s members. This basic document formed the core set of beliefs held by the society. This is as the document appears in its original form, as seen in the Memorials of Thomas Davidson:

Vita Nuova

  • Object. The cultivation of a perfect character in each and all.
  • Principle. The subordination of material things to spiritual things.
  • Fellowship. The sole and essential condition of fellowship shall be a single-minded, sincere, and strenuous devotion to the object and principle.
  • Intercourse. It is intended in the first instance to hold frequent gatherings for intimate social intercourse, as a step towards the establishment of a community among the members.
  • Designs. The promotion, by both practice and precept, of the following methods of contributing toward the attainment of the end :
    • (1) The supplanting of the spirit of competition and self-seeking by that of unselfish regard for the general good;
    • (2) simplicity of living;
    • (3) the highest and completest education of the young;
    • (4) the introduction, as far as possible, of manual labor in conjunction with intellectual pursuits;
    •  (5) the organization, within and without the Fellowship, of meetings for religious communion, and of lectures, addresses, classes, and conferences for general culture, and for the furtherance of the aims of the Fellowship.
In every generation since the ancient times, it seems, a cadre of restless, angry idealists has been seduced by this notion of Utopia.  They never quite understand that as Man is imperfect, it would be impossible for him to create a perfect society.  The only way he can guarantee is by force, which is what led to the rise of Islam.  Violent revolutions, intimidation, endless rules and regulations created by ambitious but imperfect bureaucrats, boycotts, marches, and the like cannot create a perfect society.  Even if these achieve one good, a thousand evils follow in their wake.

Nothing will ever make Man perfect, although that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t try.  The only things that can bring Man to his dreamt-of utopia are love, prayer, and God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Continuing Roman Conquest

All roads lead to Rome, the ancient proverb (first attributed to French poet Allain Devilles in 1175) tells us.  The road to the origins of Socialism, and its tactics, leads back to Rome.  Before there was Bill Ayers, or Saul Alinsky, or even George Bernard Shaw, one of the founding members of The Fabian Society (you’ve heard Glenn Beck talk about this 19th Century progressive group), there was Fabius Maximus.

Quintus Fabius Maxiums Verrucosus (referring to a wart on his lip), to be exact.  He was also known as Fabius Maximus Cunctator – “The Delayer”.

Fabius Maximus was appointed dictator in 217 B.C., following a military emergency during the Second Punic War.  The dictator Flaminius was killed.  Fabius opposed Flaminius’ aggressive military tactics, suggesting, instead, a more defensive, delaying strategy, giving him the name “The Cunctator, the Delayer.”  His tactic of wearing down Hannibal and the Phoenicians helped win the war.

The Fabian Society was founded on Jan. 4, 1884 in London.  Fabian socialists were in favour of reforming Britain imperialist foreign policy as a conduit for internationalist reform and a welfare state modeled on the Bismarckian German model of the 1880s (the world’s first welfare state, including national health care); they criticized Gladstonian liberalism both for its individualism at home and its internationalism abroad. They favored a national minimum wage in order to stop British industries compensating for their inefficiency by lowering wages instead of investing in capital equipment; slum clearances and a health service in order for “the breeding of even a moderately Imperial race” which would be more productive and better militarily than the “stunted, anemic, demoralized denizens...of our great cities”; and a national education system because “it is in the classrooms...that the future battles of the Empire for commercial prosperity are already being lost.”

The group was named after Fabius the Delayer at the suggestion of Frank Prodmore, a writer on spiritual matters.  His home was the group’s first headquarters.

In 1900, the Society produced Fabianism and the Empire, the first statement of its views on foreign affairs, drafted by Bernard Shaw and incorporating the suggestions of 150 Fabian members. It was directed against the liberal individualism of those such as John Morley and Sir William Harcourt.   It claimed that the classical liberal political economy was outdated, and that imperialism was the new stage of the international polity. The question was whether Britain would be the center of a world empire or whether it would lose its colonies and end up as just two islands in the North Atlantic.  It expressed support for Britain in the Boer War because small nations, such as the Boers, were anachronisms in the age of empires.  In order to hold onto the Empire, the British needed to fully exploit the trade opportunities secured by war; maintain the British armed forces in a high state of readiness to defend the Empire; the creation of a citizen army to replace the professional army; the Factory Acts would be amended to extend to 21 the age for half-time employment, so that the thirty hours gained would be used in “a combination of physical exercises, technical education, education in civil citizenship...and field training in the use of modern weapons.”

These were the progenitors of the “peace movement.”

The Fabians also favoured the nationalization of land rent, believing that rents collected by landowners were unearned, an idea which drew heavily from the work of American economist Henry George.  Many Fabians participated in the formation of the Labour Party in 1900 and the group's constitution, written by Sidney Webb, borrowed heavily from the founding documents of the Fabian Society. At the Labour Party Foundation Conference in 1900, the Fabian Society claimed 861 members and sent one delegate.

During the period between the two World Wars, many future leaders of the Third World were exposed to Fabian thought, most notably India’s Jawaharlal Nehur, who subsequently framed economic policy for India on Fabian socialism lines. After independence from Britain, Nehru’s Fabian ideas committed India to an economy in which the state owned, operated and controlled means of production, in particular key heavy industrial sectors such as steel, telecommunications, transportation, electricity generation, mining and real estate development. Private activity, property rights and entrepreneurship were discouraged or regulated through permits, nationalization of economic activity and high taxes were encouraged, rationing, control of individual choices and the Mahalanobis model considered by Nehru as a means to implement the Fabian Society version of socialism.

In the Middle East, the theories of Fabian Society intellectual movement of early-20th-century Britain inspired the Ba’athist  vision. The Middle East adaptation of Fabian socialism led the state to control big industry, transport, banks, internal and external trade. The state would direct the course of economic development, with the ultimate aim to provide a guaranteed minimum standard of living for all.  Michel Aflaq, widely considered as the founder of the Ba'athist movement, was a Fabian socialist. Aflaq's ideas, with those of Salah al-Din al-Bitar and Zaki al-Arsuzi, came to fruition in the Arab world in the form of dictatorial regimes in Iraq and Syria.  Salamah Musa of Egypt, another prominent champion of Arab Socialism, was also keen adherent of Fabian Society.

The Fabian Society was the offshoot of an earlier group, The Fellowship of the New Life, founded in 1883 by Scottish intellectual Thomas Davidson.  According to former UK Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald, who was briefly a member, the Fellowship's main influences were Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Leo Tolstoy. The Fellowship published a journal called Seed-Time.

Its objective was “The cultivation of a perfect character in each and all.”  They wanted to transform society by setting an example of clean simplified living for others to follow.  Many of the Fellowship's members advocated pacifism, vegetarianism and simple living.   But when some members also wanted to become politically involved to aid society's transformation, it was decided that a separate society, the Fabian Society, would also be set up. All members were free to attend both societies. The Fellowship of the New Life disbanded in 1898.

The Romans conquered all of Europe, only to be conquered themselves by the Huns and the Germanic tribes.  They simply picked up where the Romans (who had, by the time of their conquest, become corrupt and lazy, paying mercenaries to fight their battles) left off.  Germany was responsible for five major wars in Europe in the 19th Century.  They hated the English notion of free trade.  That same century produced Karl Marx.

The Fabians still exist (former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is a member) and have their offshoots.  They’ve waged an on-going, sometimes violent, sometimes delaying (sometimes both) war against free society.  We can certainly see where Saul Alinsky got his ideas from.

Yesterday’s buy-cott of Chick-Fil-A proves that they can be countered.  Yesterday, all roads led to Chick-Fil-A.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day

Today is Chic-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Before we get to the glorious celebration of Chick-Fil-A at Paramus Park Square Mall, in Paramus Park, N.J., this is also Rush Limbaugh Appreciation Day – his 24thanniversary of Conservative radio broadcasting. There are young adults (like The Nephew) who can’t remember a time when Rush wasn’t on the air. Isn’t that wonderful?

This is also Ted Cruz Appreciation Day. Last night, Ted won the Republican primary for the Texas Senate, beating out a mainstream Republican. If only we could be so lucky here in New Jersey.
Congratulations, Ted, and good luck in the general election. Awesome work, Texas Tea Partiers!

Finally, we must say a good word for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. We appreciate your speaking the truth. If the London Olympics were poorly attended, it’s hardly surprising after that Socialist Spectacular at the opening ceremonies. It also rains in London – a lot. That’s why the city is so famous for its raincoats and the rose-like complexions of its ladies. Bravo on your criticism of the Palestinians and your support of Israel. It’s about time an American stood up for our friends and criticized our enemies. Did someone actually call you a “wimp?”

Now on to lunch at Chick-Fil-As. Conservative Americans heeded the call to support Chick-Fil-As, apparently organized by Mike Huckabee on Fox News. The franchise, barely known here in New Jersey, has come under fire because its owner and president, Dan Cathy, spoke against gay marriage. He never said he would order gay couples out of his restaurants; he just said that the marriage between people of the same sex is religiously wrong.

I’ve worked with gay people. No problem with them. In fact, they were friends. One poor fellow was so innocuous it’s hard to imagine being a danger to anyone. How could I not like him? He’s a fellow bird lover! He’d come from New England but was transferred to our Philadelphia offices where there are apparently fewer tolerant people. He’d come to in-person meetings with black eyes. Sometimes he was beaten so badly he wound up in the hospital, and finally, he told me that one gang held him at gunpoint.

I asked him why he didn’t transfer back to our New England offices? He said management wouldn’t let him; they wanted him in Philly. So I got on the phone and had a chat with our supervisor. A month later, he was back in New England. He’s now healthy and thriving.

So don’t tell me, or any of the other people I found online at Chick-Fil-As that we’re prejudiced against them. This is about someone having the right to express his views about a social and political issue. Make no mistake: having come this far, the Socialists will eventually make it illegal for the clergy to refuse to perform a gay marriage ceremony, no matter how it violates their consciences, creeds, and beliefs.

And were there ever people online!

There are only three Chick-Fil-As in all of New Jersey: Woodbridge, Edison, and Paramus Park. Woodbridge and Edison are in Central New Jersey, at least an hour’s drive away. So for us northern New Jerseyans, Paramus Park was the nearest location.

Route 17 is the official location. This highway is jammed with stores of every sort from Fortunoff’s to the Music Barn, from Dunkin’ Donuts to Boston Market. All of them are visible – except Paramus Park Mall. This mall is hidden away behind a set of office complexes, which are themselves hidden by a forest of landscaped trees. Chick-Fil-A is inside this hidden mall. If you’re planning to go there for dinner tonight, better bring your GPS!

Since it’s a food-court style restaurant rather than a drive-through, you won’t see the cars or the people – at first. With people milling all about, I didn’t distinguish the line. I found the counter and was disappointed that there was no line. The young lady in front of me asked if all the people in line were there for the anti-boycott she’d heard about (Wait – what people, I wondered?)?

She asked him to explain why they were all there. So he did.

“Well, I’m in favor of it [gay marriage]!” the sour-looking young lady harrumphed.

“Yes, ma’am!” the young fellow behind the counter replied, giving her his best fast-food clerk smile.

He told someone else that the line had formed at 11 a.m. where it snaked into some nether regions of the mall and hadn’t let up since. It was still back there when I left. As I threaded my way through the line and the shopping crowd towards the book store nearby, I encountered more sour-looking, and nearly all young, college-age faces. As they went past the people on line, their noses turned up and their eyes flitted downward in displeasure. Lovely, lovely, lovely! That's when I wished I'd brought my camera.

It was only then that I turned around and saw the huge line I’d just cut in front of. I cringed and hoped they’d forgive me. I just didn’t see them. Truth be told, if I’d seen the line and being hypoglycemic, I would have had to go to some other franchise in the court to get some food, then stand in line and take the Chick-Fil-A food home for supper.

I met a number of people I knew on that line; some from work, some from the tea parties. There were newspaper photographers there. One of them said, “Hey, I know you! Where’s your camera?” I didn’t bring the camera because there’s a new bookshop in that mall (like Chick-Fil-A, new to our area) that I wanted to visit and I wouldn’t be able to lug the camera and the books, too.

Seeing all those Tea Partiers and Conservatives there restored my faith in the average citizen. Our local tea party president just couldn’t contain his glee at seeing them all there. There were some great tea shirts, too. My favorite (which you’ll probably see in The Bergen Record tomorrow) which has the word “Marriage” over a Photoshopped photo of the painting “American Gothic.”

Stanley Kurtz, in his book Radical-in-Chief, rightly warns us that the Socialists are extremely well-organized and play a very mean game political good cop/bad cop, They’re well-practiced at threatening individual politicians unless they pass legislation (usually involving money), and working their infiltrated minority and labor crowds up into a frenzy, if they don’t.

The reports are that crowds are overflowing Chick-Fil-As all over the country. They should report on the Paramus Park Mall crowd. There are people from all over northern New Jersey there, some of whom had to make quite a trek – upwards of an hour or better – to show their support of Mr. Cathy and Chick-Fil-A.

Garden Staters are not fond of traveling. If they went that far to patronize Chick-A-Fil, it says a good deal about Conservatism and religion in Northern New Jersey. And about Chick-Fil-A.

I ordered the standard chicken sandwich and it was wonderful. The fries, or what the English would call “chips”. The iced tea. All splendid! Five stars for Chick-Fil-A!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Let the Rationing Begin

“Tell me this isn’t a government-run operation.”  Flight Director Gene Krantz, “Apollo 13”

According to and Kaiser Health News, sixteen states have set a limit on the number of prescription drugs they will cover for Medicaid patients.  Seven of those states have enacted or tightened those limits in just the last two years.

“Medicaid, a federal program carried out in partnership with state governments, forms an important element because under Obamacare, a larger number of people will be covered by Medicaid, as the income cap is raised for the program.

“With both the expanded Medicaid program and the federal subsidy for health-care premiums that will be available to people earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level, a larger percentage of the population will be wholly or partially dependent on the government for their health care under Obamacare than are now.

“In Alabama, Medicaid patients are now limited to one brand-name drug; HIV and psychiatric drugs are excluded.  Illinois has limited Medicaid patients to just four prescription drugs as a cost-cutting move, and patients who need more than four must get permission from the state.”

Phil Galewitz, staff writer for Kaiser Health News, told C-SPAN’s Washington Journal that the move “only hurts a limited number of patients.  Drugs make up a fair amount of costs for Medicaid. A lot of states have said a lot of drugs are available in generics where they cost less, so they see this sort of another move to push patients to take generics instead of brand.”

“Arkansas, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia have all placed caps on the number of prescription drugs Medicaid patients can get.”

Galewitz also said, “So it seems like Medicaid’s sort of been one big experiment over the last number of years for states to try to control costs, and it’s an ongoing battle, and I think drugs is just now one of the … latest issues. And it’s a relatively recent thing, only in the last 10 years have we really seen states put these limits on monthly drugs,” he added.

Weren’t rising premiums and bureaucratic insurance companies the reason we were urged to vote for Obama and Obamacare?  We think of Medicaid in its original form, health care for the poor.  With the unemployment rate at 15 percent (the real number), we’re becoming the poor and we’ll be forced into the Medicaid category. 

The elderly, as they’re pushed out of Medicare, will be especially affected by the prescription drug rationing of only four prescription drugs.  Pundits have predicted that as states bear the Medicaid burden, they’ll be forced into severe financial straits, and at that point, the Federal government will take over.

There was a great article in the May 14th National Review by William Voegeli, entitled “Magic Accounting.”  Voegeli describes the trap Americans fell into with Social Security and Medicare, government entitlements to which workers felt entitled, since they were told they were paying for it themselves through their taxes.  He calculates that for someone born in 1965, earning a mid-range salary, had her Medicare withholding taxes been placed into an account that compounded annually at the inflation rate plus 2 percent interest, the account would be worth $87,000 by the time she retired in 2030 at age 65.  But according to a report by the New York Times, he writes, “the government will then spend $275,000 on her medical care.”

Voegeli writes, “It was the liberal architects and defenders of the welfare state, not its conservative opponents, who created the myth that spawned the subsequent confusion.  Central to liberalism at high tide was a rhetorical effort to establish the untruth that Americans receiving social-insurance benefits were betting back nothing beyond what they had already paid for.”

“But the fulfillment of our social-insurance contracts has become a grave problem because the myth of social insurance cannot be reconciled with the reality, political and fiscal reality:  the value of social-insurance benefits is typically a multiple of the value of social-insurance taxes.”   In other words, the taxes a worker paid 40 years ago, having no capital investment (no interest, compounded or otherwise, as it would have been privately), cannot keep up with inflation or the inflated cost of health care.

In any case, the money isn’t even there; the government has already spent it.  Their only recourse to solving the deficit is to tax the next generation even further and increase taxes on those who have more money. 

Yesterday, we talked about how the government wants to cut costs by reducing paperwork.  It is no coincidence that that is how they bankrupted hospitals and private doctors, through an increasingly paper-hungry bureaucracy that required hospitals and doctors to hire more paper pushers.  And today’s he’s bragged about the rebate checks he’s sent to citizens because the insurance companies charged them too much in administrative costs.  Well, guess whose fault that was?

Just as he’s pushing the blame for social bureaucracy off on insurance companies, he’s pushed the pill-dispensing off on the states.  Woe to the state that rejects a grandmother’s request for an additional prescription.  But never fear – Obama is here. 

A friend e-mailed me about how he and his wife returned from a meeting about health care.

“We were in a small health clinic where the doctors and health care nurses and councilors volunteer their time to treat people in need,” he says. “They don't deal with insurance and are not regulated by government and they don't ask for a lot of money.

“The meeting was not what we expected. They talked a little about how their facility works and it was the unanimous opinion that Obamacare must go.  But the rest of the meeting was about how the American Medical Association, the hospitals and the insurance industry are all woven together for their own benefit, to the extent that members of the board of directors of one organization also hold positions one or more of the others.”

Having worked in the insurance industry, that’s not surprising.  My company refused to sell health insurance in this state because of the corrupt bureaucracy.  Here in New Jersey, the governor is the nominal head of any insurance company that wants to do business here.

It would be interesting to see who these board members are, to learn about their history and politics.  Undoubtedly, radical socialists wormed their way onto these boards, and despite their aversion to capitalism, they are not above working their way up the corporate ladder to become board members in order to control companies.

Do you have a migraine headache, yet?  If you don’t, you will, and you won’t be able to get a prescription for it, either.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Obamacare Saga

A friend asked if I would use my blog to highlight some of the horrors of Obamacare so people know what they’ve gotten themselves into it and consider it when they vote 99 days from now.

Seniors have been passing around an e-mail allegedly written to Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana by a Dr. Stephen E. Fraser, an Indianapolis anesthesiologist, or as a letter sent to River Cities Tribune, by former Judge David Kithil of Marbles Falls, Texas. calls him “Judge Dread” and attributes the talking points to one Peter Fleckenstein, a blogger and former Marine from Phoenix, Ariz.

As we Freedom Warriors often do, we borrow from each other’s writings and apparently Dr. Fraser and Judge Kithil passed the word on. claims that Fleckenstein’s information is based on H.R. 3200, some 2,400 pages long, was never passed, and that what Congress passed was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – H.R. 3590.

Snopes claims that “some” of the entries in the list are outdated and that they reflect aspects of the legislation that were never passed.  But let’s hang on a minute.  I spent most of Friday researching this matter.  I had to download both bills, and compare them and I found that most of what Fleckenstein writes are true – they’re just located in different parts of the bill.

Let’s just take two items, because I don’t have time to post the entire text of both bills.

First, let’s take Fleckenstein’s item on the government’s access to individual finances.  He was right in both cases.  Here is the wording from the original, 2400-page bill, H.R. 3200:

Section 1173A Standardize Electronic Administrative Transaction

(a)    Standards for Financial and Administrative Transactions. –

(1)     In General. – The Secretary shall adopt and regularly update standards consistent with the goals described in paragraph (2).

(2)    Goals for Financial and Administration Transactions. – The goals for standards under paragraph (1) are that such standards shall –

(A)   Be unique with no conflicting or redundant stanrds;

(B)   Be authoritative, permitting no additions or constraints for electronic transactions, including companion guides

(C)   Be comprehensive, efficient and robust, requiring minimal augmentation by paper transactions or clarification by further communications;

(D)    enable the real-time (or near real-time) determination of an individual’s financial responsibility at the point of service, and to the extent possible, prior to service, including whether the individual is eligible for a specific service with a specific physician at a specific facility, which may include utilization of a machine-readable health plan beneficiary identification card;

(E)    Enable, where feasible, near real-time adjudication of claims;

(F)    Provide for timely acknowledgement, response, and status reporting applicable to any electronic transaction deemed appropriate by the Secretary;

(G)  Describe all data elements (such as reason and remark codes) in unambiguous terms, not permit optional fields, require that data elements be either required or conditioned upon set values in other fields, and prohibit additional conditions; and

(H)   Harmonize all common data elements across administrative and clinical transaction standards.

Here is the same issue, now in Section 1004 of H.R. 3590:

Section 1104.  Administrative Simplification

(a)     Purpose of Administrative Simplification. – Section 261 of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (42 U.S.C. 1320d note) is amended –

(1)    By inserting “uniform” before standards”; and

(2)    By inserting “and to reduce the clerical burden on patients, health care providers, and health care plans” before the period at the end.

(b)   Operating Rules for Health Information Transactions. –

(1)    Definition of Operating Rules. – Section 1171 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320d) is amended by adding at the end of the following:

(9) Operating Rules. – The term “operating rules” means the necessary business rules and guidelines for the electronic exchange of information that are not defined by a standard or its implementation specifications as adopted for purposes of this part.”

(2)  Transaction Standard; Operating Rules and Compliance.  Section 1173 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320d-2) is amended

                (A) in subsection (a)(2), by adding at the end of the following new subparagraph:

                                (J) Electronic funds transfers.”;

                                (B) in subsection (a), by adding at the end of the following new paragraph:

(4) Requirements for Financial and Administration Transactions.-

                (A) In General. – The standards and associated operating rules adopted by the Secretary shall –

                (i)  to the extent feasible and appropriate, enable determination of an individual’s eligibility and financial responsibility for specific services prior to or at the point of care;

                (ii) be comprehensive, requiring minimal augmentation by paper or other communications;

                (iii) provide for timely acknowledgment, response, and status reporting that supports a transparent claims and denial management process (including adjudication and appeals); and

                (iv) describe all data elements (including reason and remark codes) in unambiguous terms, require that such data elements be required or conditional conditions (except where necessary to implement State or Federal law, or to protect against fraud and abuse).

                (B)  Reduction of clerical burden. – In adopting standards and operating rules for the transactions referred to under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall seek to reduce the number and complexity of forms (including paper and electronic forms) and data entry required by patients and providers.;

The legislation goes on (and on and on and on), justifying the reasons for going paperless.  Perhaps it’s because Congress is aware of the monumental bureaucracy it’s creating.  Or perhaps they’re displaying their environmental consciousness.  However, going paperless is monumentally dangerous and flouts the old legal rule:  “get it in writing.”

Then, there’s Fleckenstein’s charge that Obamacare will open up the health care system to illegal aliens.  They’re already receiving health care at the expense of the taxpayer.   H.R. 3590 does state:

Section 246.  No Federal Payment for Undocumented Aliens.

Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

There is a caveat, however.  The bill makes an exception for the “Non-Traditional Medicaid Eligible Individual.”  Tracking down the Health Care’s definition of this non-traditional Medicaid eligible individual was an exercise in red-herring frustration.  The search led back to this section:

Section. 205 (e)(4)(C)

(C) Non-Traditional Medicaid Eligible Individual – The term “non-traditional Medicaid eligible individual” means a Medicaid eligible individual who is not a traditional Medicaid eligible individual.

For those of you too young to understand what Medicaid is, here’s Wikipedia’s definition (as always when reading a Wikipedia entry, do so with a skeptical eye):

Medicaid is the United States health program program for certain people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states.  People served by Medicaid are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, including low-income adults, their children, and people with certain disabilities.  Poverty alone does not necessarily qualify someone for Medicaid.   Medicaid is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with limited income in the United States.

The legislation states that there will be no “Federal payment for undocumented aliens.”  Coupled with its very unhelpful definition of a “non-traditional Medicaid eligible individual” the language raises suspicions about just who this mysterious, non-traditional individual is.  Will states be obliged to foot the bill for the care of illegal aliens, leaving the Federal government free from charges of unconstitutionality?

The documents can be found online. 

There’s more to come in the next 99 days on Obamacare and on Obama’s decidedly Socialist bent and his Socialist connections, particularly with Acorn.

Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy election.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Honoring Honus

Dear JD,

How are things going on the Farm?  The last note I got from you was that you were lonely there all by yourself, with the ladies all out on the road.  I’ve gotten FB messages from other “survivors” who say they miss the rest of us.  But it’s okay; I think if I’d had to do much more running around with the camera, I’d have collapsed from heart failure or something.

Glenn Beck held his third “Restoration” event in Dallas yesterday evening.  Now, if I’d signed up for a transfer to the Dallas offices, I could have seen it in person.  If you’ll recall, I went to his first “Restoration” event in Washington, D.C.  He called it Restoring Honor, but it was more like “Restoring God” or “Restoring Faith” as he admitted last night.  The view was better from GBTV, though, or what he’s soon going to rename Blaze TV.  I liked GBTV better, but whatever.

Remember how you taught me about Honus Wagner?  You and ES were talking about “The Flying Dutchman” and I asked you if he was a pirate.  You and ES laughed at me at my ignorance.  “No, not the kind of pirate, you’re thinking of,” you and ES explained.  “He was a Pittsburgh Pirate and a very good one at that.”

Johannes Peter “Honus” Wagner, born on Feb. 24, 1874 (about the same time as my great-grandmother), was one of the first five baseball players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Baseball historians declared him to be one of the greatest short-stop players ever.

But you said while he was a great player that’s not what made him famous.  You said that in those days, companies would sponsor baseball cards with famous players like Honus on them.   The company that sponsored Honus’ card was a cigarette company called “Sweetfield Cigarettes”.  At least, I think that was its name.  Or was it “Sweet Meadow?”  Anyway, if you had GBTV, you would have seen Glenn Beck honor Honus for having the courage to force American Tobacco Company to take his face off their card because, as a Christian, he didn’t believe in smoking. 

As a result, the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card is one of the rarest and most expensive baseball cards in the world, as only 57 copies are known to exist.  The card was designed and issued by the (ATC) from 1909 to 1911 as part of its T206 series. Wagner refused to allow production of his baseball card to continue. The ATC ended production of the Wagner card and a total of only 57 to 200 cards were ever distributed to the public. In 1933, the card was first listed at a price value of $50 in Jefferson Burdick’s The American Card Catalog, making it the most expensive baseball card in the world at the time.

Someone loaned Glenn Beck one of the cards to display during his Restoring Love event last night.  He even let some lucky kid hold the card during the performance (the kid had to return it, though).  Glenn said that the card is worth $2.8 million.  So you, see Glenn is worth the $10 a month [I believe] to watch his show.

Unless of course you have the card.  In which case, you don’t need to watch GBTV to see the card.  And you don’t need to worry about your retirement.