Wed, Dec

You'll Be Happy When the Government Tells You To Be!


ALPERN AT LARGE-While he might deserve poor marks for knowing what makes America tick, Michael Hiltzik of the Times deserves kudos for confirming--albeit unknowingly--where Big Brother is truly coming from.  After presuming that the Christian Right (the Moral Majority) would play the role of Big Brother, apparently it will be the Nanny Staters who will inform us of when to be Happy (and woe be unto him/her that dares question that Happiness).

Throughout his recent article in the Times Business Section, Michael Hiltzik repeatedly confuses "happiness" with Thomas Jefferson's "pursuit of happiness" (as in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" written into the Declaration of Independence). 

Yet "happiness" when "guaranteed" by Big Government--via social programs--is NOT the same as "the pursuit of happiness" which is sought by entrepreneurs, students, corporate climbers, investors and parents who fight the good fight, and who win some and lose some, and who risk all their years and energy and funds towards either Success or Failure, or usually a combination of both. 

And "happiness" when "guaranteed" by Big Government is usually not so happy, because it is defined by human beings who are inherently biased and capable of error, and because "one size never fits all" when it comes to "being happy". 

Sorry about all the quotation marks, but they do serve a purpose--because my point is that Relevant Truth is NOT the same as Absolute Truth.  And here's where it gets dicey, but I'll move forward because I absolutely MUST here, and advise anyone to just hit the delete button if they aren't comfortable with anything they read. 

There is a huge difference between Liberals--who are by nature of that very word "open-minded", as is the word "catholic" by nature "liberal"--and Statists, who want the government to control all, including personal thought, speech and behavior.  Ironically, there are those "Liberals" who are now perverting that word into something that means anything BUT open-mindedness...including their thrashing of the Catholic Church. 

And not just issues surrounding justifiable outrage over priests' child-molesting and coverups, but issues surrounding Belief, Dedication to God, and any Moral Imperative to live one's life because one MUST dedicate him/herself to God's Commandments, to live in a manner preparing one for the Afterlife, and to adhere to the Scriptures (which, written by human beings but translated from God's teachings, are always subject to interpretation). 

So what does this all have to do with Hiltzik's ridiculous article, and the Nannystate?  Well, Jefferson--as much as he despised imposed governmental religion--did NOT oppose religion and belief in God altogether.  Frankly, neither did the rest of the writers of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and most of the scholars of the Enlightenment of the 1700's. 

"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" was a moral imperative handed down from God--just as the founders of the basic principles of chemistry and physics, their contemporaries, had their belief in God confirmed BECAUSE, and not despite, their discoveries.  Hence we can throw all the Bible-as-Science and the

Bible-as-Myth extremists in the same pile...they're both wrong! 

BECAUSE "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" came from God--who clearly created a very imperfect world, with competing interests and the need to have Evil amidst us in order to motivate us to perceive and reach for the greater Good.  So to have Big Government command us to believe that Social Security, Medicare, and now "Obamacare" is what we should perceive as the path to "happiness" is an affront to the very principles that made up this country. 

Which might be fine for those of us who believe the framers of the Constitution were out of touch with our modern world, and who want to transform this country into something it never was intended to be at its start, but to have our elected leaders place their hands on a Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution is an absolute lie if they then proceed to do otherwise... 

...but now to translate this esoteric thought to our daily existence:  as a physician, I am confronted daily by miserable patients losing their insurance and learning they will pay more to get either the same or less health care coverage than what they had before.  They are also unable to get full-time jobs with benefits (such as health care), and things are getting worse. 

This is particularly true for my patients in their twenties, for patients in their fifties and early sixties, and for minorities.  And they are NOT by any means "Happy".  They are also limited in their ability to "Pursue Happiness", because opening one's own business or working for a small business is fraught with expense and regulations. 

Saving up for the future?  Marrying?  Having children?  Forget it.  Survival is the name of the game.  And while I have a few friends who's saved money with the so-called Affordable Care Act, and for whom I am happy, they are in the distinct minority. 

And for those still defending the lies, mistruths and character assassinations of the opposition, all surrounding the so-called Affordable Care Act--well, they might be calling the opposition "partisan" but I've seen more naked partisanship and "Moral Majority-like" paternalism towards those-who-are-unhappy-but-who-now-should-be-happy-because-the-smarter-people-in-the-Government-figured-out-how-you-SHOULD-be-Happy than I ever saw with the Christian Right in the 1980's. 

And I imagine there were those who defended and apologized for the Bush Administration until the very end, so this isn't so new a thing, right? 

Until one remembers that the screwup-that-was-Iraq was entirely a bipartisan decision at the beginning, while the ACA was entirely partisan from its inception to this very day.  It's not about affordable care, it's not about health care, it's about Control of Action, Thought and Operation of our lives. 

If it was about health care and affordability, doctors and health care professionals would have had a seat at the table to save costs and get this done right--it wouldn't be "Obamacare" but rather "America-Care".  It wouldn't have been opposed by the overwhelming majority of physicians and nurses, and it wouldn't be on its way to what we're seeing now...which might be FEWER people with coverage than before, NOT MORE. 

And for those proclaiming that Social Security and Medicare are such great successes, then perhaps we should ask ourselves where we would be if the Federal Government didn't have the ability to borrow in the trillions the way it has.  And perhaps we should ask ourselves why governmental workers imposing a meager health care and retirement benefit program on us are all excluded from it for themselves and their families. 

Mission Accomplished?  Happy, yet?  Able to get that God-given ability to pursue happiness yet for your own health and retirement, unless you're connected to the Ruling Class--er, Government?  Feel really free in your own country, and confident that your fellow Americans can all achieve what they're entitled to work for? 

There will be some folks who will still adhere about their own anecdotal stories, but it's up to them to recognize, appreciate or dismiss the misery and uncertainty that I see every day in my patients--and I've advocated for affordable health care for years. 

Yet the Affordable Care Act has only worsened the shortfalls of how our health insurers run things, not reversed them, and the risk of a greater number of uninsured individuals existing a year from now is very real. 

And for those who still will fight and die for the lies behind our so-called safety net, and ignore the fact that only governmental employees, connected unions and political supporters of our current Administration have true comfort in their lives, just close your eyes and ask yourself this: 

1) If this was George W. Bush who rammed this through, with only GOP support, would this be just as acceptable? 

2) Is Government now supplanting religion as the end-all, be-all of your belief system?  And what you want the rest of us to adhere to? 

3) How long will you ignore the majority who oppose this travesty to health care and the pursuit of happiness, while adhering to the paradigm of only YOU having the smarts and ability to recognize what we all need to truly be happy?


(Kenneth S. Alpern., M.D. is a Board-Certified Dermatologist/Dermatologic Surgeon who is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us . The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)





Vol 11 Issue 90

Pub: Nov 8, 2013