Tag Archives: ObamaCare

GERMAN ELECTION AND THE FUTURE OF EUROPE

Angela Merkel told supporters they had achieved “something fantastic” (AFP)

First Brexit, then Trump, now the AfD (Alternative for Deutschland).   Sunday’s German election was the third electoral upheaval in a western country since June last year when the Brexit vote showed a majority of Brits wanted to leave the EU.

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union received 33% of the vote, which still puts her ahead to form a coalition government with two smaller parties.   Her party received one million votes less than last time.   The Social Democrats got half a million less votes. These have been the two dominant parties through Germany’s postwar history.   The CDU’s more conservative sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, saw a drop of over 10% in support since the 2013 election.

The third biggest party, with 13.2% of the vote, was the AfD, giving them seats in the Bundestag for the first time.   The party is considered extreme right-wing and has even been described as a “neo-Nazi” party. It’s anti-Islam, anti-immigrant and anti-euro.   It could grow in power and influence as Germany is increasingly threatened by Islamic extremists, let in by Mrs. Merkel two years ago.   She will be blamed for terrorist attacks and every other problem created by the Muslims.   Mrs. Merkel stands by her decision, yet also says the CDU will win back the voters they lost to the AfD.

The CSU’s late leader, Franz Josef Strauss, once warned that Germany must never have a party to the right of his.  It’s now happened.   The CSU is expected to quickly move to the right politically before the state election a year from now.

If she can put together a coalition with the Free Democrats (liberals) and the Greens (left-of-center), she will command a majority of seats in parliament.   If she is able to continue the coalition with the Social Democrats (socialists), the AfD will be the opposition party in parliament, giving them greater public exposure, enabling them to pose a greater threat next time there’s a general election.

Mrs. Merkel is the world’s most powerful woman and the leader of Europe’s most powerful country.   This election is going to have a ripple effect throughout the EU and even the rest of the world, as the EU is the world’s biggest trading bloc.

It’s certainly going to impact Brexit negotiations with the United Kingdom, partly because the British lack the self-confidence to truly go-it-alone.   Mrs. May addressed EU leaders in Florence a few days ago and was bending over backwards to accommodate their demands.   One of her proposals was for a two year transition period, which would mean that the UK would not fully leave the EU until 2021.   That’s not what voters had in mind when they voted on Brexit.

The pro-Brexit leader Nigel Farage described Mrs. May’s proposal as a victory for Goldman Sachs and other international corporations – certainly not one for the British people.

Monday’s Daily Express warned:   “FEARS of a new Franco-German plot to sabotage Brexit and keep Britain tied to Brussels for ever have emerged.”   President Macron of France has proposed some revisions to the EU treaties to keep Britain in and stop others from leaving.

Just as the people in the UK are not going to get what they want, Americans find themselves in a similar situation.   President Trump seems unable to deliver on his promises – to end Muslim immigration, to build a wall on the southern border, to abolish Obamacare, to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The people voted in support of these, just as the British people voted for Brexit.

If they cannot get their countries back through the ballot box, they may take more desperate measures.

Mrs. Merkel has promised to address the concerns of the German people, including those who voted AfD, whom she wants back in the CDU by the next election.   But again, it’s doubtful anything will be done about immigration.   It seems to be an issue western leaders cannot handle.

Bible prophecy shows that the Middle East and Europe will be central to the fulfillment of the final end-time events.   Right now, Europe is at the forefront, with developments that will lead to a continental upheaval resulting in the revived Roman Empire, a new arrangement that will up-end the Treaty of Rome, which was itself an attempt at a European revival based on the Roman Empire.

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I LOVE PARIS IN THE SPRING TIME

The second round of the French presidential election takes place on Sunday.   Polls (!) show that the centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, is leading with 62% of the vote.   Madame Marine LePen, of the National Front, is not doing so well.   Reports say that she is already looking to what is often called “the third round of the presidential election,” voting for the Legislative Assembly, in June.   She has the potential to lead the opposition to Macron, who has no party support.   A future crisis (financial or terrorism), could lead to a major upheaval that would be to her benefit.

Mrs. LePen’s support comes mainly from rural areas and France’s rust-belt; Mr. Macron has all but 5% of the vote in Paris and the more affluent regions of the country.

The French political system, with three elections in just a few weeks, is rather complicated and, certainly this time, quite suspenseful.   For the first time since the birth of the Fifth Republic in 1958, the major parties are not involved in this second round – their candidates did not garner the necessary support.

It’s not just the political system that is different in France. Mr. Macron, married to his former school-teacher, 25 years older than himself, laughed off an accusation that he has had a gay relationship with a prominent radio personality; but now is issuing frequent denials about an overseas bank account!

In a heated televised debate on Wednesday evening, Madame LePen made the best prediction of the evening.   She said that seven days from now, France will have a female leader – either her or Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor.   Mr. Macron is a committed European, whereas she would like the French people to have a Brexit style referendum on the country’s future membership. Under pressure,   M. Macron is talking about the need for Europe wide reforms, but he would keep France in both the EU and the single currency, the euro.

A victory for Emmanuel Macron would mean the 27 remaining members of the EU will stand together against the United Kingdom in the Brexit negotiations.   A win for Mrs. LePen would actually help London, though no politician in the UK is going to say anything to that effect!

So Sunday’s second round is not just about France, but Europe.   We should know the outcome sometime Sunday evening, Eastern time.

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MORE MIGRANTS COMING

  • Turkey appears determined to flood Europe with migrants either way:  with Europe’s permission by means of visa-free travel, or without Europe’s permission, as retribution for failing to provide visa-free travel.
  • The migrants arriving in Italy are overwhelmingly economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe.   Only a very small number appear to be legitimate asylum seekers or refugees fleeing war zones.
  • The director of the UN office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.   (Gatestone Institute, 5/5/17).

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DIVORCE EUROPEAN STYLE

Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister who negotiated with the EU during the financial crisis a few years ago, is warning the United Kingdom NOT to negotiate with the bureaucratic nightmare known as the European Union.   In effect, Mr. Varoufakis was saying that nobody wins against the undemocratic EU.

Wolfgang Munchau, a German contributor to the London-based Financial Times, is also warning the Brits that they cannot win against Brussels.

The alternative for the UK is simply to leave and face the consequences, what is called a “hard Brexit.”   There are plenty of other countries wanting trade agreements with the UK, so there’s definitely a case for this.   But the British government is hoping for a trade deal with the EU post-Brexit.   They have also re-committed themselves to closer military ties, reaffirming their commitment to Europe.

A hard Brexit could be a better choice.   It would certainly be quicker as Brexit talks will last two years – and that time frame only covers the actual exit, not talks on a new trade pact.

It’s like a divorce – after over 40 years together, the UK and the EU are now talking to divorce lawyers about a divorce settlement.   As with a divorce, the only people who will benefit are the lawyers.   And, as any divorced people know, divorce never ends – the animosity (and the financial costs) just go on and on.

Footnote:   Mr. Varoufakis, who cannot vote in France, has called on people to support M. Macron, in spite of the way he and his country were treated by the EU!

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PRINCE PHILIP TO RETIRE AT 96

Britain’s Prince Philip is retiring after seventy years of public service.   His wife, Queen Elizabeth II, will continue with royal duties, but will no longer be accompanied by her husband.

Shortly after the announcement, the prince was at a function when an older man came up to him and expressed his sorrow that the prince was “standing down” from his responsibilities; the prince consort quipped back that his problem was not standing down, but rather standing up!

In his seventy years of public service, Prince Philip has attended over 25,000 public engagements and made over 600 overseas trips representing the United Kingdom.

He will end his official duties in August, by which time he will be 96 but will still take on a few as he feels up to it.. The Queen turned 91 two weeks ago. It is expected that Princes Charles, William and Harry will take on some of Philip’s commitments.

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INTERESTING QUOTE

( I cannot independently verify the following, but thought that some readers would find it interesting. It’s from a magazine called “Truth in History,” which comes out of Oklahoma.)

“…Bob travels to London quite often on business and from time to time has dinner with a very close friend of his, which is Queen Elizabeth’s personal secretary.   Bob told me that he asked his friend when the Queen was going to turn the throne over to Charles.   He replied, “she does not intend to ever give the scepter to Charles – possibly to William, but her desire is to present her crown, throne and scepter to the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns, whose rightful throne it is. This is her desire.”

Anyone who has read “The Servant Queen and the King She Serves,” published a little over a year ago, will know that the queen is a very religious woman.

“This tribute focuses on the Queen’s own words to draw out the central role of her trust in Jesus Christ in shaping her life and work, offering us an inspiring multi-faceted insight into a life well lived for others.” (Backcover, Google Books)

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DEATH OF OBAMACARE

I have mixed thoughts about the vote yesterday to abolish Obamacare.   The ACA went into effect on April 1st, 2014.   Before you marvel at my memory, I should add that I ended up in the hospital on April 2nd and spent over four months fighting for my life. I had one of those deadly infections that’s killing people all over the world.   I needed two major back surgeries and then fought nausea and vomiting while working my way through all the medications.   They gave up on me twice.

During this time period I was in two different hospitals. The bill from the second one was a million dollars; from the first, it was roughly half that.

Obamacare covered almost all my bills.

If it had not been in place, I would have died.   If I had gotten sick a month earlier, before it came into effect, I would have, likewise, died.

Having said that, I’ve also seen the negative side of Obamacare, of people having to spend a significant part of their income to get coverage, of a bureaucracy that has often failed beneficiaries, of a system that is too expensive to be maintained.

I do believe that the Republicans have made a mistake – they should have come up with another system first, before abolishing what the country already had.

I’ve been in the United States for 27 years, since 1990.   Health care (and how to pay for it) has been at the center of American politics during that time.   Whereas other, less affluent countries, have been able to put a workable system in place in months, the richest country in the world still cannot find a solution to the problem of healthcare.

Apparently, President Trump, who is in New York to meet with Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull, made a favorable comment to the visiting prime minister about their country’s healthcare system. It’s a single payer system, so the president’s comment is of particular interest.

A possible solution lies in each state working out it’s own system,

But it’s embarrassing that, after decades of talking about it, Washington still has not come up with a sustainable medical system.   Perhaps America could start by looking at the medical systems in Australia, the UK and Canada, our next-door neighbor.   France, too, which the WHO claims has the best system in the world. You would think that one of our TV news programs would take a look at one or two of these other countries.

I might add that if a Conservative government in the UK, the closest equivalent to a Republican administration, abolished the medical system, they would not make it back into power for decades.   The same goes for the French, Canadian and Australian conservatives.

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FAVORITE SCRIPTURE

John Wycliffe (1320-84) was a major figure in what became the Protestant Reformation.

“John Wycliffe was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, Biblical translator, reformer, and seminary professor at Oxford.   He was an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century.”  (Wikipedia)

His favorite scripture was Philippians 2:12 – “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   This was heresy to the Roman Church, which dominated the country at the time. Later, the Church had Wycliffe condemned as a “heretic.”   It didn’t bother him – he was already dead and buried. But his bones were exhumed and burnt.

He did not just influence religion.   He also had a profound political effect.   Not long after the birth of the modern parliament in 1265, Wycliffe encouraged people to think for themselves, thereby encouraging democracy, an idea the church did not like at all.

The freedom to think for ourselves is seriously threatened today by universities that won’t allow conservative speakers to address students, citing security concerns.   This is unlikely to be a temporary phenomenon.

Sadly, few remember Wycliffe today.   When I visited Lincoln Cathedral in England some years ago, I asked after the man who served there for some years in the 14th century.   A senior member of the cathedral’s clergy had never heard of him!   I did find a very thin book on him in the bookstore, which I bought.

John Wycliffe (pronounced WICKCliff) is one of the greatest men in our common history, who made a big difference both religiously and politically.

WHO WILL MAKE THE BEST PRESIDENT?

Bernie Sanders

A bearded stranger came to the door this evening, a young man who turned out to be campaigning for Bernie Sanders. Michigan has a primary tomorrow, Tuesday. This is an opportunity for both Republicans and Democrats to choose the person they would most like to be their parties’ nominees for the presidency in the general election, still eight months away.

In a brief conversation on our porch, I asked the campaigner why he was supporting Mr. Sanders.   He answered truthfully and I listened. He said there is no hope in the present situation. Millions of young people like him are struggling financially, saddled with enormous student debt but finding it difficult to get a job. Additionally, they are bearing the brunt of Obamacare.  Only “democratic socialism” can solve the problem.

I asked him what he meant by “democratic socialism.”  He replied that’s where the people control their government.  I said that’s what a republic is supposed to be.  He responded by saying that the present system (a republic) has led to 1% taking everything, leaving 99% with nothing.

I told him that I do have a certain level of respect for Mr. Sanders but that I cannot vote for him.  I respect him because he is fighting to win the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton, who has the advantage of great personal wealth (the Clintons’ combined income in 2014 was $30 million, placing her firmly in the 1%) and the financial support of Wall Street.   She also has most of the media behind her.   Although her husband seems bewildered when she is described as part of the Establishment, she truly is a member of the “ruling class.” The Clintons have done well out of the system and want to preserve the status quo. They do not want change.

Bernie started out with little hope of being nominated but has led a very successful campaign against his opponent.   He has a great deal of support from young people, including our young visitor.

But, I added, I could not vote for Mr. Sanders because I’ve been there before.

I’ve experienced the democratic socialism that has been embraced by European countries. High taxation is needed to pay for all the “freebies,” the benefits that most people want. The result is that hard work is often penalized and, now, millions of migrants are attracted by all those benefits, resulting in a veritable invasion of their countries.

He asked me if I would be voting tomorrow.  I said I didn’t think so.  I’m not happy with any of the candidates, but I find the election fascinating.

What I can say is that I DO understand those who support both Mr. Sanders and Donald Trump.  These are both anti-Establishment candidates.

Conservative columnist Monica Crowley said on television, commenting on the primary results coming in on Saturday evening: “a major theme of this whole campaign is rejectionism . . . rejecting decades of the ruling class, the Establishment”  — “they have disappointed and betrayed this voting base for decades on end . . . ”

Others have described what is happening this year as a “revolution” without the bullets.   Donald Trump may be causing panic among Establishment figures, the “ruling class” that Monica Crowley talked about, but at least his supporters are still willing to aim for change through the ballot box.

If the desire for change is thwarted, then there could be trouble.

Consider the following observed by Sean Hannity on his program on February 29th:

“95 million Americans are out of the labor force

“50 million live in poverty

“46 million are on food stamps” (actually, 47 million is the usual figure quoted).

Additionally, it was revealed the following day that 51% of Americans are now earning less than $30,000 per annum.

These are reasons why people are so frustrated and turning to anti-Establishment figures like Trump and Sanders.   Clinton and Rubio are Establishment figures, wanting more of the same.   Ted Cruz is somewhere in-between. John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, seems an honest and decent man, often described as “the only adult in the room,” but, again, representing an Establishment that has been in power for fifty years. It’s time for a change.

The problem is that nobody can deliver what people want.

The challenges are daunting –

A falling standard of living;

Government spending out of control;

Uncontrolled immigration that’s threatening the American way of life;   (conservative commentator Tucker Carlson described this as the top concern on “Fox and Friends” on Sunday morning);

Terrorism;

Domestic violence.

The same problems afflict other western nations.

These are the end result of five decades of leftist-liberal thinking.

A reaction is coming, either peacefully at the ballot box, or through other means.

It might not be pleasant.

Jesus Christ said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Christians should not be naïve, thinking that any presidential candidate can make all the changes needed.   Rather, we should remember the admonition He gave us to pray fervently “Thy Kingdom Come” (Matthew 6:10).

 

 

ALCOHOL, EUROPE AND THE ECONOMY

Hollande and Iranian Pres

The British and French governments seem to belatedly be realizing the threat from Islamization.

When the French president Francois Hollande entertained the visiting Iranian president last week, an official luncheon had been arranged to welcome the visitor and his entourage.  But then the Iranians objected to wine being served at the meal.  London or Washington would have simply switched to non-alcoholic grape juice, but not the French.  The very idea of a meal without wine was unthinkable, so they promptly cancelled the lunch.

Good for them!

Across the English Channel, the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, is in need of some urgent repair.  While the building is being renovated, parliament will meet in another hall. This hall is owned by a group with Islamic connections and will not allow alcohol in the building.   Parliamentarians are used to having ten bars to choose from in their own hall.  They will now have no alcohol for a few months!

Perhaps a dry spell might help them focus better on the threat from growing Islamic influence.

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Meanwhile, consumption of alcohol must be up across America as people follow (or don’t follow) the US presidential election.   It’s a means of escape.

Our bank manager dismisses all the candidates as being “useless.”   His point is that not one of them offers a solution to the problem of the $19 trillion national debt – which, of course, threatens the very existence of the country.

It’s a world record.  Never before in history has any country owed so much.   It cannot go on.

We are in unchartered territory, as no nation has ever been in this great a fiscal mess.

Since I wrote this segment, plans have been revealed for $4.1 trillion more to be spent, in a record budget by the Obama Administration. This will include a major allocation for cyber-security, seen as the single biggest threat to the United States.

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I’m writing this on Tuesday afternoon while watching “Dumbo,” the Disney classic about a flying elephant.

I should add that Diane and I are watching two of our grandchildren. This is their favorite movie.  They are both three years old.

When I finish, I could switch over to one of the news channels and see the latest from New Hampshire, where primaries are being held today.

But I think I will stick with escapism.

The grandchildren will be asking for “Little Einsteins” next.

It’s going to take an Einstein to make even a dent in the problems that confront us.

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We watched “The Big Short” on Saturday night.  The movie is a factual account of how the housing bubble burst a few years ago.   It’s engrossing on one level, unbelievable really.  However, I should warn you, it contains a great deal of bad language.

Sunday we were able to watch “Murder of a President,” a 2-hour PBS “American Experience” documentary, about the assassination of President John Garfield in 1881.  His assassin was, at least, delusional and may have been paranoid schizophrenic.  But it wasn’t the assassination as such that killed the president.  It was mistakes by his doctors and one doctor in particular.   Medical science has certainly come a long way since Garfield’s death.  Back then, they did not even know the importance of cleanliness!

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It turns out that $750 million in Obamacare subsidies went to illegal aliens last year.  That partly explains why the IRS has just presented me with a $6,500 tax bill, mostly for Obamacare.   I’m still reeling from the shock and may require medical care, but can’t afford it thanks to the bill for Obamacare!

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That’s not to say it’s better elsewhere.

The former Greek finance minister today warned that Europe is going through a depression.   Yanis Varoufakis warns in The Independent that Europe is sliding back into the 1930’s and a new political movement is needed.    He is launching the “Democracy in Europe Movement 2025” (DiEM25 for short).   He says that Europe is run by a cartel, not by its people, even though European countries are all democracies.

The self-described “erratic Marxist” says he wants to remove power from an unaccountable, authoritarian elite and distribute it fairly to the continent’s citizens.” (The Independent).

Americans will recognize this as similar to the arguments made by people like Bernie Sanders.  They have a point when they say that 1% owns 99% of all wealth.  From what Mr. Varoufakis is saying it’s no different in Europe.

It’s clearly time for a new economic system as the current one is increasingly failing people.  As things are predicted to deteriorate this year, calls for change are only going to increase.

Citizens of the US and UK should be thankful.   Mr. Varoufakis holds them up as a model of financial success compared to other western nations.

I’m not so sure about that.  We may be better off than most, but we certainly can’t be complacent.

Unfortunately, both Mr. Varoufakis and the prime minister he served under, Alexis Tsipras, are avowed atheists, influenced more by Karl Marx than anything in scripture.  But they should take a look at Leviticus, chapter 25, and specifically at the Year of Jubilee.  Only the cancellation of all debt will help revive the world economy.

Hopefully, all debts will be cancelled before I have to pay the IRS!

Back to “Dumbo” and some sanity……..   Maybe I should also have a beer, but it doesn’t seem right while watching “Dumbo.”  Come to think of it, Dumbo drank alcohol when he fell into a barrel of it – that’s why he saw all those pink elephants!  A beer it is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

OBAMACARE – LESSONS FROM THE NHS

Obamacare-cartoon

It was no surprise to hear yesterday (Tuesday September 10th) that the income gap is widening.  The richest 1% are earning more while the average person is losing ground.  According to the report on NBC, the 1% are those earning $394,000 per annum or more.

So it’s good news that the Michigan Legislature has just approved the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).  It will begin in the spring.  Finally, people like us will have medical insurance.

But . . . is it good news?

First of all, the new rules and regulations are very confusing in a way only government can do.

Secondly, I think we all know it will add to America’s financial problems.

Interestingly, the United States is at the same point now that Britain was at in 1947.

Americans are tired of wars (as the British were after two world wars and a few minor conflicts here and there).  They don’t want their boys sent overseas to places they have never heard of; besides, there’s a lot to spend the money on here at home.

Healthcare, for example.  A bottomless pit if ever there was one.

So the UK introduced “free” medical care just a few months after beginning to dismantle its empire.  It’s called the NHS (National Health Service) and, you may have noticed at the opening celebrations for the London Olympics, they are proud of it.

However, few realize that, for 65 years, as medical costs have risen, so there’s been less money for defense.  The UK has gone from being the greatest military power a century ago to, well, virtually nothing today.  A few years ago I remember reading that healthcare costs were increasing by 8% a year, while the economy only grew at 2%.  This meant cut-backs in many areas to pay for healthcare.

The US is heading in the same direction – downhill all the way.  We may all have medical coverage, but at some point, there will be nothing and nobody left to defend those hospitals and clinics!

Is that really what Americans want?