Who is to blame for the government shutdown?

Letters Published: October 17, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

Presenting dishonest poll results

In his recent column, James Klingenschmitt, a Republican candidate for House District 15, said that 83 percent of doctors have considered quitting because of Obamacare. Klingenschmitt got that figure from a survey conducted by the Doctor Patient Medical Association (DPMA), a conservative group that is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC's clear purpose is to get governments to pass laws that increase corporate profits. DPMA sent its survey to 36,000 doctors, but only 699 responded. The survey was less than scientific.

In her recent column, Star Parker, a conservative Republican, stated that according to a recent RealClearPolitics.com average of polls, 51 percent of Americans oppose the new health care law and only 43 percent of Americans support it. What Parker failed to mention was that at least 7 percent of Americans oppose Obamacare because it is not liberal enough.

Consequently, despite Parker's implication, most Americans are not opposed to the federal government getting involved in health insurance.

These two instances clearly show that conservative leaders either do not have a clear understanding of polling or they are dishonest in how they present polling results. You be the judge.

Steve Waldmann, Monument

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The purpose of government

Response to Irv Halter: What is more nauseating than a career politician who can find no reason to limit the power of government? An aspiring "results-oriented" politician, such as Irv Halter, who can find no reason to let "partisan intensity" get in the way of solving "real-world problems." The problem according to Halter, is partisanship, not fundamental disagreement over the purpose of government.

But while the founders of our republic vigorously debated the means, they agreed that the purpose of government was the protection of the rights of the individual. Because they agreed on the fundamental principle, compromise was possible and a nation was born. Prior to the Civil War, pragmatists argued that compromise could be found between a document that declared all men are created equal and a culture that said except black men. No such compromise was possible.

There is no problem facing America today that is more "real-world" than the question of what is the purpose of government. Is government a necessary good essential to the defense of the rights of the individual or is it an end in itself, a human ant-colony sucking the life out of individuals to feed the whole? No compromise is possible between these two ideas. It is time to choose sides.

Jerry Varner, Colorado Springs

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Questionable claims in opinion piece

As Gordon James Klingenschmitt's economics professor at the Air Force Academy more than 20 years ago, I have to give myself a failing grade since it is clear from his Op-Ed piece Sunday that he knows little about economics. Criticizing Obamacare and the administration's economic policies is certainly acceptable - and there is much to criticize - but to resort to the shibboleth about "socialism" is nonsense. Under these so-called "socialist" policies, the stock market has doubled and unemployment has fallen with more than 2 million net new jobs created. An examination of the data would also show that most of the increase in part-time employment predated Obamacare and arose from demographics as baby boomers age and from the recession, which began in the Bush administration and ended in the Obama administration. Again, looking at the data would show most part-time workers are part-timers by choice; for example, college students balancing their studies with work and older workers easing into retirement.

Other claims in Klingenschmitt's piece are, charitably speaking, questionable. The $546 cost of IVs likely stems from a NY Times article from August 25 that describes the price of the IV for victims of food poisoning in New York in 2012. There is only one reference to Obamacare, which described pressure on hospitals to provide " . cost efficient care paid on the basis of results not services." The article describes numerous cases of market failure as hospitals charge widely varying prices to those with insurance (relatively lower) and those without (relatively higher).

His statement about 83 percent of doctors thinking about leaving their profession due to Obamacare came from a discredited survey created by a medical association with an estimated 2000 members, which talks about doctors being "mugged" by Medicare. (In contrast, the American Medical Association has over 200,000 members.) The referenced survey had 699 responses. There are over 800,000 licensed physicians in the U.S. and to think that more than 600,000 of them would leave a profession with an average income according to the Physician Salary Survey of $200,000 to $500,000 depending on specialty, is unrealistic.

To the extent that my instruction contributed to Klingenschmitt's economic illiteracy, I apologize to him. The debate about the cost of health care and the efficacy of Obamacare is vital in strengthening our nation's economy, but this debate needs to be rational and based on verifiable and testable data and solid economic theory. Alas, Klingenschmitt's Op-Ed piece did not contribute to constructive discussion of these important challenges facing our country.

Neal Rappaport, Manitou Springs

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