The Big Think

March 21, 2010

Health Care Endgame

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:51 am

I strongly oppose the current health care bill, and I’ve made no secret of that fact to my friends. My opposition is not based upon selfishness, cruelty to my fellow man, or the belief that the current system is just fine. In fact, long time readers will know that I railed against our H.C. company every year when they raised rates. Instead, I believe that the currently proposed legislation is very bad law, and it’s being enacted in a way that is unprecedented, violently partisan, and socially irresponsible. We need reform on health care because the health care system is so broken. And because it represents 20% of our economy, we need to put all ideas on the table and do it right. Slamming through the current legislation with a vote today will not fix our problems. In the long term it will only make them worse.

More importantly, though, my opposition is philosophical with a longer view. It’s best summed up in Randy Barnett’s article, Is health-care reform constitutional?

…the individual mandate extends the commerce clause’s power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying “cash for clunkers” is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds.

If you choose to drive a car, then maybe you can be made to buy insurance against the possibility of inflicting harm on others. But making you buy insurance merely because you are alive is a claim of power from which many Americans instinctively shrink.

Fix health care, but do it constitutionally, without establishing precedents that will inevitably lead to future leaders continuing to erode personal liberties and further empower the federal government.

If you support the current HC reform and have never been able to understand why all those “crazy tea-partiers” are protesting, I can’t make it any clearer than that.

Music Lover

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 6:56 am

I am both a lifelong classical-music lover and a member of a generation – the so-called Generation X – that, according to scary graphs recently published by the League of American Orchestras, has yet to show the midlife surge of interest in classical music that previous generations displayed. I went to college with extraordinarily smart people, who knew their art, literature and cinema. But few of them knew classical music. I bring such friends to concerts, and although they are pleased to be there, I often sense a slight disappointment. They admire the music, but the evening in some way falls short. And I ask myself whether the experience could be modified so that their admiration might turn to love…

People often ask whether classical music has become too serious. I sometimes wonder whether it is serious enough. Certainly, it has acquired a veneer of solemnity, but too often that veneer is a cover for business as usual. I dream of the concert hall becoming a more vital, unpredictable environment, in thrall to the wildly diverse personalities of composers and performers alike. The great paradox of modern musical life, whether in the classical or pop arena, is that we both worship our idols and, in a way, straitjacket them. We consign them to cruelly specific roles: a certain rock band is expected to loosen us up, a certain composer is expected to ennoble us. Ah, Mozart; yeah, rock and roll. But what if a rock band wants to make us think and a composer wants to make us dance? Music should be a place where our expectations are shattered.

Enthusiasm in the concert hall. (h/t Barry)

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