Constitutional amendments are a whole lot harder to pass than filibusters are to break, Bob. I rather strongly suspect that's why Grinch suggested it. His point, I believe, is that if it's not in the Bill of Rights it's not a right. Not for anyone!
Passing an amendment first essentially defeats any possible health care reform. As well it should.
Even rights in The Bill of Rights are very slippery. They seem to have a way of being there one minute and vanishing the next. The whole business about people having a right to be secure in their property and the various elements upon which the necessity of warrants has been based seems to have been seeping out the door over the last ten or fifteen years. The Posse Comitatus business is being munched away. We could go on all day. A new set of rights has been set up that seems alien in nature. All of a sudden companies can be people. They can have the rights of people, but oddly can't be put in jail and have a very interesting set of tax privileges that people such as you and I don't seem to have. They may also have achieved something like immortality, which is something that people haven't achieved yet, so they never have to deal with the various legal ramifications of death. And they can exercise free speech, though they have no mouths and the notion of them having a single body that might be jailed for serious misbehavior is laughable. They have all the privileges and none of the responsibilities. Oh goody. And they may have in fact created a second class of citizen, a sort of super citizen with more voice in government and policy than that of the ordinary citizen.
The entire nature of rights in this country is up for grabs.
The rights of corporations may be considerably wider in many ways than the rights of regular citizens. They are based only tenuously in the bill of rights. They take their legitimacy from the nature of money itself, because quite a few of these companies are multi-nationals and still have the same rights here. News Corp, for example, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, an American in name only, and a Saudi Prince who functions as a stand in for the Saudi Royal family. It is a multi-national and it does its best to promote a lot of global oil and fuel interests and the politics that seem most likely to make those politics work out.
Passing a health care amendment may be impossible, by the way. But I think that the Democrats shouldn't drop the current attempt to pass the current legislation for less of an incentive. They have nothing to gain by doing so; and they've already given up almost everything that would have made the legislation worth fighting for in the first place. This way, if they get it passed, they might be able to get some sort of single payer rider inserted at some future date. It would be less effort than starting from scratch and trying to build it in.
Sorry guys, I think we do owe a debt, and I think that what you folks are talking about is trying to find a way of welching on a debt by picking it apart like lawyers.
Of course we owe our veterans a debt, Bob. And that debt continues to be paid every single day they have a free country in which to live. It's why we fought. It's why many died.
If a guy rushes into a burning building and pulls you out, Bob, trying to pass him ten bucks isn't a good way to say thank you. Frankly, it's just an insult. If your honestly know any soldier who was induced into risking his life for a metaphorical sawbuck, trust me, he's not the one you owe for his service.
And before someone asks, upping your tip to a hundred, or even a hundred thousand, isn't the right answer, either.
My dad agreed with you, Ron.
He was a WWII vet, and flew C-47s into Yugoslavia and other places that were occupied to bring in supplies and take out wounded partisans. Also other things. He figured that he did something that needed to be done, and that doing it was enough. He didn't want anything from Uncle Sam. He figured he made enough money to pay his own way, and that's what he used for his own health expenses and for those health expenses in our family. He figured some vets weren't lucky enough to be able to do that, and he thought that it was wonderful that the VA system was there for them. Not everybody was as lucky as he was.
I knew he worked like a dog, and he knew it too, and so did everybody else. But he never lost sight of the fact that no matter how hard you work, a large part of what happens to you is simply luck, good luck or bad luck, and that you can feel better about yourself when you work hard, but there are plenty of hard working guys who died died in the gutter for one reason or another. He knew some of them, and so do I.
And there are some people that wars simply wreck, Ron. Wars throw sand in some people's mechanisms, and there's nothing that's going to clean it out. No matter how hard they work at it, no matter how sincere they are. If you haven't seen folks like that, I don't know what I can say to you. You're plainly an observant guy with open eyes and a reasonable mind. I can't explain how I could see something like that and you would not. I suspect you would probably chalk it up to something different, some different cause, or something.
I asked how you folks would envision the result of the end of the entitlements system, and I've got to say thank you for giving a solid shot at the answer. Here's what you said:
It would encourage a lot of people who depend on the entitlements to stand on their own two feet again. That, I think, would be a good thing.
Not all people who depend on entitlements would be able to rise to stand, of course. And that's where a good thing gets a whole lot better. Getting rid of entitlements would encourage people to start helping people again. Family. Friends. Churches. Neighborhoods and communities. Instead of shoving that job off on an impersonal bureaucracy, the job of helping each other would be put back where it belongs. The people who need help would benefit tremendously, but the people who GIVE the help would benefit even more.
Ultimately, entitlements rob people of the help they need and rob everyone else of the help they need to give.
Well, I think that's certainly a possibility, Ron, but there isn't much evidence for it.
The reason I say that is because we have a substantial amount of history to look at in which there were no government programs to deal with this sort of thing. There are a lot of folks, and I mean perfectly well meaning folks, who say the same sort of thing that I hear you saying here, but they set the notion forward as if we don't have hundreds of years of experience with societies which don't have this sort of government program to provide some minimal level of support to people in need.
The answers that a lot of the Libertarian and Conservative folk give when asked about how to deal with the poor or the suffering is almost always very close to yours, and it is tremendously well meaning and idealistic. It acts as though we don't have experience with trying this sort of solution before. The facts were that private charities were terribly ineffective. The problems were massively larger than anything they could even hope to begin to cope with. Before that, in England, debtor's prisons were a common solution, and many people died there from malnutrition and disease.
In the 19th century, conditions in the slum areas in many of the larger cities were so horrific that police didn't dare go into many of them, even in groups of three or four for fear of not coming out. Try looking up some data on the Five Points area of New York. The book on which the movie The Gangs of New York was based was non-fiction and pretty well researched. It wasn't until actual government programs began to put money into sanitation and building codes and fire codes that some of the most basic horror began to subside. There were of horrific number of endemic diseases that periodically ravaged these areas, in part due to slumlords and lack of housing codes, in part due to lack of medical care for such diseases as cholera, and in part for lack of basic social work support for family structure.
Don't take my word for this, I urge you. I want you to doubt me enough to do some of the basic research for yourself so that you can see.
The assumption that if you take supports away from people at the edge will motivate them to get moving on their own has some truth to it. It was true for you, right? But it is only true for people who do not think of themselves as helpless and hopeless, and whose only open courses of action, therefore, are the courses of last resort: Those things that desperate people do when they cannot believe that anything they plan will work out, courses of violence and impulse and short term gain.
If you've lived on the street, then you've seen this happen time and time again.
And remember, most of the time when people are desperate, they don't particularly care how they get the wherewithal to pay their bills. All they want is a moment where they aren't being hounded, and a warm place to sleep and a full belly.