The Modern Levels of Government: An Introductory Lecture for the Course

In survey level courses, we typically give the broad local, state, and federal outline and then some examples and exceptions (more exceptions to the typical than one could most likely analyze in multiple lifetimes).  Instead of the old school broad outline, here is a modern GOPTEADONKEYLIBCON outline.  ( GOP / Tea / Donkey / Lib / Con )

Let’s start at the federal today and eventually work down to the locals:

The Federal government is supposed to be limited in powers as those powers are vested in the states and the people.  In addition to the limited powers, the Federal government is supposed to have unlimited, but not authoritarian or totalitarian, powers some of the time.  Remember it is only some of the time because those unlimited powers can be authoritarian or totalitarian as long as those tactics are directed at others.  Now even though powers are vested in the states and people, the federal government is supposed to fund any rebuilding or repair efforts necessitated by natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and so on.  These funds should be given directly to the states and the people to use as they please.  If the appropriate rebuilding and repair efforts are not accomplished with the initial round of funding, the federal government should release more funds until the states and people fix what is broken.  The federal government should also provide other services and funding to states and people.  Those services and funding, however, must be limited to benefit your particular needs and wants and not those of someone else.  For the federal government to provide for another is socialism and we do not want any degree of socialism.  Of course it is not socialism but only a responsibility of the federal government when things are provided to me and those who believe as me.

The above is a definition and description of powers, so let’s give a modern application.

The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare:

1 )  It is socialist even though private companies compete on the exchanges for customers.

2 )  It is authoritarian because of the individual mandate.  (It doesn’t matter that the individual mandate part was a continuation of prior GOP proposals because something is only authoritarian if Obama favors it).

3 )  It restricts the rights of the states which is apparently the reason that so many states opted not to set up their own exchanges but to have the federal government operate exchanges in those states.

To assist the citizens of their states, several have passed laws restricting the availability of information and assistance to understand the law.  Other states are passing laws to enable health insurance rates to increase by not allowing state insurance commissioners to approve rate hikes.  Georgia insurance commissioner Ralph T. Hudgens explained his role succinctly:  “everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

If the above seems confusing, here is a key to understanding this GOPTEADONKEYLIBCON:

In order to maintain state and individual rights against a totalitarian movement of the federal government, states are allowing the federal government even more control in their respective borders even though they say that they oppose federal intrusions.  Likewise, these states are limiting the availability of information and availability to its residents and trying to increase costs for its residents by giving insurance companies fewer restrictions on raising their rates.

One caveat, or should that be caveat emptor, is that somewhere and somehow it has been and will always be the responsibility of private employers to provide and subsidize health insurance for their employees.  Unfortunately for many people, history as it actually occurred is not relevant in modern society except for trivia.  Perceptions of actual events, however, may and can be used for partisan, discriminatory, narcissistic and other propaganda which is regarded as truth since the messenger is more important than the message.

(Sadly I never thought of doing this type of oral history interview and will need to see if one exists, but it would be interesting to listen to an accountant who handled the books for employers about the impact of the IRS provisions in 1943 on employer based health coverage and the broadening of those tax advantages for others in 1954).

You can view a broad outline of major events in healthcare since the year 1900 from PBS here.

For a larger picture that is geared more toward the casual reader but will also illuminate some paths to more detailed sources, the Fall 2009, Volume VI, Issue I edition of the Yale Journal of Medicine and Law which is an undergraduate student publication of the university is a good starting source.  Within that issue several short articles focus on the historical, legal, and application topics within the healthcare and health insurance areas.

One event currently making the news within this whole GOPTEADONKEYLIBCON federal government role in reference to healthcare is the exchange between media personality Sean Hannity and Earline Davis who is referred to as “Fired Obamacare Operator.”  A vast number of outlets have the story of how Hannity called the 1-800 number and spoke with Davis about healthcare provisions.  I’m linking a positive and negative assessment of Hannity, but I encourage you to read others.

A positive description from FOX Nation:

A negative description from the Los Angeles Times:

Why is this story a GOPTEADONKEYLIBCON issue?  The federal government fired her right?

Actually, Vangent, Inc., a subsidiary of General Dynamics terminated her.  Vangent received the government contract to operate these call centers.  You can read a reprint of an article from Kaiser Health News on the award of the contract here.

At the time of my writing this piece, I could not access the Vangent website so I used this job search site to learn some basic company information.

Now I have no information as to any of the training Earline Davis received or specifics about her job duties or employment contract.  I have come across the term of CMS scripted language several times in reference to healthcare navigators and the ACA implementation of the individual mandate.  CMS stands for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and you can view various links to its regulations and guidance here.

The reason that this event is a GOPTEADONKEYLIBCON issue is because a media personality who earns an estimated $20 million a year for being a critic of President Obama telephoned an operator at a 1-800 number for his radio show.  The employer of that operator, the private company Vanguard, Inc., terminated that operator for that phone call.  It must be noted that Sean Hannity has graciously offered to pay one year of the fired operator’s annual salary which is approximately $25 to $26 thousand from his own pocket and his $20 million annual salary.

To understand this in the GOPTEADONKEYLIBCON levels of government analysis, a media personality to entertain or inform if you prefer, calls a number for a private employer awarded a government contract and that call results in a lower paid employee getting terminated, and it is the fault of the federal government and specifically President Obama.

It’s that simple.

That’s the introductory lecture on GOPTEADONKEYLIBCON.  For your thinking pleasure, I suggest some numbers application exercises at least on the Hannity and Davis issue.  Consider Hannity reaches approximately $20 million, Davis approximately $26 thousand, and what of Vangent and General Dynamics?  Could their money have any influence over the award and governmental process?

The Vangent Inc PAC summary can be found here:

Now most will view their numbers as an even party split or leaning toward the Democrats.  Researching and teaching US political history at different types of colleges and universities, on initial glance I see nothing out of the ordinary in party distribution.  It’s essentially the distribution of who can help you the most when.

Keep in mind that Vangent is actually small potatoes as it is a subsidiary of General Dynamics which is a heavy hitter in the PAC world.  You can find the General Dynamics PAC summary here:

Like Vangent, an initial glance leads to that who can help you the most when type of distribution.

The GOPTEADONKEYLIBCON levels of government where money matters most and people are loyal to their political party before their country.

Now for what is often the most enjoyable part of teaching:

The post class session discussion out in the hallway or hopefully outside under the shade of an oak tree, with a cool and gentle breeze rustling the green leaves, a blue sky with both wisps and cotton like clouds, a warm sun, and birds singing.

Isn’t it amazing how so many profit tremendously from the partisanship and constant bickering?  If you think about it, blind support of one side or the other benefits the few who want to maintain this divide and really hurts the rest of us regardless of who we are and what we believe.  Sometimes we think it is best to always win.  In reality though, in the long run we often learned more and actually benefitted from not winning a certain stages.

We think that we have the answers, and anyone who disagrees is wrong.

I don’t know about you, but it would be my personal Hell to have everyone be exactly like me and to always have everything that I wanted.  I’m lucky in that there are a number of people who I would trust with the lives of my family even though those people and I disagree on an array of issues.  The specific issues are far less important than the complete package.  Some people with whom I agree, I would be uncomfortable trusting because that level of respect is just not there.

My feelings about learning from differences aren’t unique from the feelings of many I know.  Why is it so difficult to stand in another’s footprints or walk that proverbial mile in another’s shoes?  Government can’t only be for us.  To have freedom; to have opportunities; we must also relinquish some freedom and most give up some opportunities.  Sure that may sound like double talk to some, but it makes just as much sense as having your cake and eating it.

Share a smile, bend an ear, and have your ear bent.  Believe it or not, those generations which made this country great did those simple things.  They also spilled blood, sweat, and tears together and at the expense of others.  We aren’t perfect creatures, but we can all learn and not in the GOPTEADONKEYLIBCON way.

What I learned from my Dad at home and in the K&B stores he managed, my Grandfather in the field and in the strawberry packing shed, the men and women of their generations in the Hungarian Settlement area of Livingston Parish, and my friends and classmates back home exposed to that treat others as you would want them to treat you and just get the job done upbringing as I was will always be applicable and of equal in some and of greater in many of all the learning inside the many classrooms from Kindergarten through graduate degrees.

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