Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trumpcare, Paul Ryan, and Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush's Warning

by Nomad

Last Thursday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was interviewed by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. It wasn't very interesting, to be honest with you.
As expected, Ryan performed the same retractions and dodges and, in order not to be accused of saying anything either for or against the president, twisted more than a talented contortionist.

We can't really blame Trump for his slanderous tweets against Obama because, as Ryan said, ten-year-old Twitter is "new" and 70-year old presidents can't be blamed for not understanding how all this new technology stuff works.
Ryan really said that.

Watching a grown man squirm like that is hard to watch. It wasn't any easier to view knowing that there really were people out there who might actually believe him.
However, among all of this intentionally complicated fast talk, there was one thing he said that caught my ear.

Ryan said that he believed that your government does not owe it to anybody to pay for health care. It's not a responsibility of government and besides, the American people don't want to be forced to accept something like that.
"If you say that healthcare is a right, we are giving the government too much power over our lives. If we are saying this is a government right, then we are saying that the government gets the right to say .. under what circumstances we get healthcare."
Most of the nation have accepted the idea that providing a standard level of affordable (or free) healthcare is an indispensable duty of a government. That's true even when healthcare is substandard in comparison to wealthier nations.

The richest nation in the world, the United States, stands almost entirely alone among developed nations that lack universal health care. Throughout the world, healthcare is deemed far too important to ignore. In those countries, no politician would dream of giving voters this cockamamie nonsense. When you are poor and sick in those countries, Big Government is the only thing keeping you alive.

Perhaps Ryan doesn't realize it but there are numerous international human rights declarations that contradict Ryan's notions.
Unlike Twitter, these ideas are not new and have been around since the late 1940s.
For example, experts will tell you that the 1946 World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution established the right to health as a "fundamental, inalienable human right" that governments cannot abridge, and are rather obligated to protect and uphold.
Similarly, Article 25 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states that
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services."
So, despite what Ryan tells the world, access to health care really is a well-established and universally recognized human right.

And that idea- that governments should be held accountable to do all they can to protect the health of their citizens- was a matter that the founding fathers upheld. 

Benjamin Rush

Meet Mr. Rush

And that brings us to a bit of early American history.
Meet Ben Rush.
Dr. Benjamin Rush, compared to Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, is probably one of the lesser known founding fathers.
You might not have ever heard of him. I hadn't.
Rush was a physician, politician, social reformer, educator and, like Jefferson,  a humanitarian and very much an intellectual of his age.  Unique among the American revolutionaries, Rush was also a man of strong Christian convictions. (Paine was an avid atheist and Jefferson was a cherry-picking agnostic.)

In addition to being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Rush served as Surgeon General of the Continental Army and became a professor of chemistry, medical theory, and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

As a physician in a time when modern medicine was still in its infancy, Rush was an odd mix; a proud proponent of blood-letting and purges while at the same time, undertaking to classify different forms of mental illness and to theorize as to their causes and possible cures. He is, in fact, considered the "Father of American Psychiatry", publishing the first textbook on the subject in the United States.

Nevertheless, when it came to social causes, to say that Rush was ahead of his time seems to be something of an understatement.

A Harvest in Due Time

He opposed the institution of slavery, and, like most of the founding fathers had high hopes that, if the United States could not immediately abolish it, then it would eliminate within his lifetime or soon after.
In his September 1787 letter to John Coakley Lettsom, an English physician, and Quaker abolitionist, Rush writes
I rejoice to find you express yourself so confidentially of the future success of your new society for abolishing the African trade. I am not more certain in the light with which I am not enabled to direct my pen or of the sympathy which I now feel for our African brethren, that I am of your finally putting an end to the traffic in human souls."
He advised Lettsom to be patient and persistent. "Tease your Parliament every year with petitions" and to "fill your newspapers with anecdotes of the injustice and cruelty of the African trade."
Truth, though slow, is sure in its operation. Like spirit, it is indestructible and unquenchable in nature. No particle of it can be lost. Sow plentifully and a plentiful harvest will ensue. If not immediately, certainly in due time."
Sadly, this slow harvest took nearly 70 years, a suicidal civil war the death of more than 600,000 soldiers, both North and South, and the murder of a president.
Yet in the end, the slavery of African brethren was ended.

The Morality of Free Education

Rush was a progressive for other causes. He saw the inherent illogic of capital punishment for capital crimes. The punishment for murder by execution was, said Rush, "contrary to reason, and to the order and happiness of society. and was also "contrary to divine revelation."

Another cause Rush advocated was free public education. He wrote that it was "ignorance and prejudice only the keeps men of different countries and religions apart.."
His plan for free schools was tax-based because the problem was too widespread to be left to charitable or religious organizations. His logic, while accurate, still seems a little jarring to modern ears.
The children of poor people form a great proportion of all communities. Their ignorance and vice when neglected are not confined to themselves. They associate with and contaminate the children of higher ranks of society. Thus they assist after they arrive at manhood in choosing the rulers who govern the whole community. ...
With an education, he concluded, a nation, "and above all, a republican nation,  can never be long free and happy."
"It becomes us, therefore,.. to provide for the education of the poor children who are so numerous."
Tax dollars paid for education would be money well spent, Rush explained:
Besides, there will be real economy in the payment of this tax; by sowing the seed of good morals in schools and inspiring the youth with habits of industry, the number of the poor and, of course, the sum of the tax paid for their maintenance will be diminished. By lessening the quantity of vice, we shall moreover lessen the expense of jails and of the usual forms of law which conduct people to them.
In Rush's eyes, it was also a part of Christian duty.
Above all, we shall render an acceptable service to the Divine Being in taking care of that part of our fellow creatures who appear to be the more immediate objects of his compassion and benevolence.
In addition to these thoroughly enlightened social goals, Rush strongly believed in an improved education for women and in reforming the penal system.

As a leading physician, Rush had a major impact on the emerging medical profession.
And that brings us to this quote in which he strongly advocated that the newly-written Constitution include a provision guaranteeing affordable health care for all citizens.
And here was his reasoning and it makes a perfect rebuttal to Paul Ryan's ridiculous and shameful claims.

Constitutional Medical liberty

One more thing to add:

In a recent poll of Nomadic Politics readers, we asked you how long you thought Trump would remain president.
Here are the results. 

Nomadic Politics Poll results
With a total of 77 people responding, an overwhelming majority of you (70%) believed that Donald Trump would not survive his first year in office. More than half of those (39%) felt that he would be out of office within six months.
Nineteen percent of those who voted believed he would leave office not later than his second year. A mere 5% could see Trump remaining in office for three years and even less  (4%) thought he would be able to serve out his full term as president. 
As far as serving a second term, 99% of the respondents thought that was impossible. 

Thanks for your participation. I will try to think of other polls in the near future so stay tuned.