Sunday, October 05, 2008

Congress plays Santa Claus with bail-out boondoggles.

The destructive “bail-out” legislation was drafted on the fly, barely debated, passed without any one person reading it in it’s entirety and rushed into law by a President who rushes to judgement on lots of issue with almost a perfect record of being wrong.

All it will do is hand billions of dollars from poorer people to wealth corporations. But it does more than that. The politicians, who are inherently deceptive, used the legislation in order to push other agendas as well.

Congress tends to write legislation that is about a “big” subject and then the D.C. crowd hide other measures into the legislation. So a bill that is about one topic is used to hide laws about entirely different topics, totally unrelated. The secondary topics don’t get any debate at all. Everyone is focusing on the “big issue” so the little issues slip by unnoticed. Democrats do it. Republicans do it. Once against it is the bipartisan effort by the two big parties to screw over the American people.

Did you know the bail out bill, while picking you pocket for the benefit of Wall Street is picking your pocket for other special interests as well?

Republican Senator, Pete Domenici, pushed a rider into the bill to force companies to provide insurance to so-called “mental illnesses”. As the Wall Street Journal notes this clause in the bail out bill requires “insurance companies to cover mental illnesses just like other medical conditions.” The problem is that so-called mental illnesses are not just like other medical conditions.

Measles is an objective condition. It exists as an illness whether or not the medical profession says it exists. But a mental illness has no objective condition. It is entirely subjective. It was once said by the psychiatric profession that masturbation was a mental problem. Now it isn’t. The American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality as a mental illness. Now I happen to think it was never a mental illness to begin with. But illnesses do not rely upon votes. The medical profession doesn’t get together and vote physical diseases into, or out of, existence.

The reality is that mad doctoring is a lot of hocus-pocus. It depends on cultural interpretations of behvaiour. Most mental illnesses have no evidence for their existence beyond the behaviour of someone. There is no virus or antibody that can be detected. You can’t do a blood test to determine a mental illness. You just state an opinion about how someone is acting.

There are numerous tests that have been done of mad doctors which show how they are unable to determine whether someone is mentally ill or not. One famous study sent “patients” to mental hospitals with the patient originally lying about hearing voices. (You can’t measure whether someone hears voice. You simply have to take their word for it.) The person was normal in every way. The mad doctors continued to incarcerate these normal people until it was exposed they had nothing wrong with them. They couldn’t tell if they were “mentally ill” or not.

Then as a follow up the mad doctors were told that the experiment would be conducted again. This time they had fair warning. Admission rates to their “clinics” dropped dramatically as the doctors began rejecting numerous patients. In truth no actors were sent to them. Patients who previously would have been admitted were rejected merely because the doctors thought they might be exposed once again.

There is no objective standard by which the term “mentally ill” can be defined. As a psychology/journalism major at university I took numerous courses on “mental illness” and the definitions were circular. No objective definitions were given. I’ve tried to find objective definitions and there were none. I pulled up one psychiatric web site to read their definition. They noted that a mental illness is a “broad range” of conditions. They say it is not brain damage or learning disabilities. They say the term is used for anything condition that “significantly interfers with the performance of major life activities, such as learning, thinking, communication and sleeping.” But there is still no actual definition. You can have a “mental illness” “over many years” and the symptoms can “vary from person to person”. They can “come and go”.

But what is it? Are there any actual symptoms that can diagnosed objectively? The entire definition depends on our own values and how we feel about what another person says is happening inside their mind. It can’t be measured objectively only subjectively. We see a man walking down the street babbling to an imaginary friend we call it schizophrenia. We see the same man doing it in church and he’s religious. No real disease acts this way. Cancer exists in the body regardless of your location at the time.

The reason that homosexuality stopped being a mental illness was simple. Social attitudes which condemned people for being gay changed. With mental illnesses the diagnosis may tell you nothing about the patient but a lot about the values of the doctor.

Sen. Domenici has been trying to get this measure through for years and regularly failed. Of course the mad doctors wanted the legislation since it pumps billions of new funds into their profession. Domenici couldn’t get the measure passed previously. But by adding it to the bail out it wasn’t even debated. Domenici was able to help this one profession by forcing insurance companies to give money to them for a non-objective condition.

How does a psychologist know you are experiencing anxiety? You tell them and act anxious. Ditto for depression. They can’t do a blood test for such problems. They can’t make a culture of the “virus” that causes them. They can’t detect antibodies. They talk to you and you talk to them. They have to take your word for it. (Of course, they can diagnose you even if you assert you feel fine.) Two psychiatrists can come to totally opposite conclusions because objectivity is not required.

Now we know that there are people in the world who fake being sick. They call in to work and say they can’t come in because they “have a cold” when, in fact, they are headed for the beach. Companies may ask for a doctor’s statement confirming the problem. Certainly insurance companies won’t pay out for “treatment” or lost wages merely on the say-so of the employee.

The same person can now go to a mad doctor and say he feels depressed. He can recount sadness, listlessness, and a general attitude about life. And the doctor has to take his word for it. Such things can’t be measured. The physician can recommend rest and relaxation. He might suggest the man head to the beach for a nice day of enjoyment. By claiming to have a “mental” state that can’t be measured the same man can get the insurance company to pay for his “treatment” and cover his lost wages while he enjoys the beach. And, if the patient is proven to have faked problems, time after time, then his behaviour of faking illnesses is itself indicative of an illness.

While Sen. Domenici was handing billions to the mad doctors other politicians were doing the same thing. Over and over measures unrelated to the “bail out” were being smuggled into the legislation, where they would be passed with no debate whatsoever.

The environmentalists, who due to their consistent fearful statements must be “mentally ill”, got billions in tax credits for their favorite causes. It’s part of the “bail out”. So there is a $17 billion subsidy for so-called green technologies.

The politicians were having a field day with the massive piece of legislation. Throughout the bill they were hiding projects to reward special interests in areas which have no connection to the main matter of the bill. There is a 39 cent per item tax break for manufactures of wooden arrows for children. The bill extended $100 million in tax breaks for race car tracks and $478 million for Hollywood film producers.

You remember the bill that was rejected only a few days ago because of those “valiant” congressmen saying “no”. And then you remember how they caved days later. What changed? The Congress, in those few days, expanded the bill by hundreds and hundreds of pages. It was expanded to give out more money to more special interests. A good number of those Congressmen weren’t holding out for “better” legislation, they were holding out for their special interests. They were waiting to pad the bill with their preferred, unrelated projects. In other words, they were waiting for a political bribe -- a measure that would benefit them with the special interests they represent.

So you have tax breaks for wool producers, $192 million for rum producers, and a whopping $239 million to help rescue fishermen from the Valdez oil spill -- really! Ignore the fact that spill is about to have it’s 20th anniversary.

One of D.C.’s real low-lifes, Congressman Charles Rangel, was behind the rum rebate measure, which gives the rebates to the governments of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Rangel attacked the larger bill because it was filled with special interest legislation precisely like that which he introduced himself. Of course he was bitching about other special interests and not his own. And even though the bill contained $100 billion in spending unrelated to the bail-out he said that he had to vote for the measure because something had to be done. Rangel insisted his special interest wasn’t just a vote-getting measure like the arrow rebate.

This is the dishonest way that politicians do business. These politicians can tell the public they opposed the first reading of the bill but caved in because of the dire need for it -- a need they created in the first place and one that really isn’t addressed by the legislation anyway. Then they riddle the bill with goodies for their friends and supporters, change their vote, and act as if this was a principled stand on their part.

The bail-out was a bad idea. The revised bail-out is nothing but politics as usual. But it is a perfect example of how politicians whip up fear and hysteria about something in order to ram through legislation that benefits small interest groups. Congressmen are not your friend!

Labels: ,