Prager University Part 42.
Jan 20th, 2021 by ACU Podcast
Prager University Part 42.
Price Transparency: How to Fix Healthcare
- What's Wrong With The 1619 Project?
- Be Brave - Nikki Haley
- What Is Big Green?
- What I Can Teach You About Racism How the Left Sees the World: Power, Race, and Class
Price Transparency: How to Fix Healthcare
How can a simple blood test cost $30 at one lab and $300 at another across the street? The answer to this question could save billions, as well as make healthcare more accessible and affordable for everyone. Will Bruhn, co-founder of Restoring Medicine, explains.
Script: How messed up is our healthcare system? This messed up. Researchers compared prices amongst 53 hospitals for a standard heart procedure, called a CABG, or coronary artery bypass grafting. Not only did the researchers find a 10-fold difference in price for the same procedure across hospitals — from $44,000 dollars to $448,000 dollars; but they also found no correlation between higher prices and better quality of care. Other studies have shown there can be up to a 39-fold variation in price for a simple blood test across medical centers in the same metro area. Here's the punchline. We have no idea how much we're paying for healthcare services. Why is it that when you need to get a surgery or medical test, you can't get a price the same way you can when you shop for, say, an airline ticket? Imagine if the airlines didn't post prices. Instead, when you bought your ticket, Delta just said, "we'll bill you after your flight because we don't know what the cost of fuel will be that day." Then a week later you get a bill for $4,000. You'd scream bloody murder and rightly so. Yet this is precisely what we are dealing with in American healthcare. With rare exceptions, when you go in for back surgery or a thousand other kinds of medical procedures, you have no idea how much it's going to cost you. Worse, no one would be able to tell you if you bothered to ask. That's because medical billing is a ridiculously complex dance between hospitals, insurance companies, and various middlemen. The hospitals charge crazy prices — $100 for aspirin, for example — and the insurance companies and middlemen agree, through special, often secret deals, to pay some percentage of that. That's how your knee replacement which the hospital says costs $50,000 on its itemized bill, actually costs you $5,000 — after your deductible. Out of all this confusion, one thing is crystal clear: medical costs are skyrocketing. And, Americans are having more and more trouble paying the bill. Nearly 1 in 5 of us has medical debt in collections. If you think this problem doesn't apply to you because you have insurance through your employer, and therefore your costs are covered, think again. Over the past five years, employees have had to increase their contribution to their premiums by 15%, in addition to a 36% increase in deductibles. Meanwhile, wage increases have not kept up, rising 14% over the same period. Yes, that salary increase you so richly deserved was eaten up by the increased insurance premium you had to pay. If the ever-increasing cost of medical care was reflected in the quality of the care you were getting — that is, if you were paying more to get better care — maybe this would make some sense, but, as we saw in the coronary bypass example, there is little or no correlation between what you pay and what you get. So how do we get out of this mess? A big part of the answer is price transparency — something almost every American wants. Even in our era of political polarization, almost 9 out of 10 Americans say they favor price transparency for medical services. Makes sense. Markets only work when consumers have the proper information to make purchasing decisions. And the two most important pieces of information are the price and the quality of a good or service. As it relates to health care, Americans don't have access to either of those. For the complete script visit https://www.prageru.com/video/price-t...
What's Wrong With The 1619 Project?
In August of 2019, the New York Times published The 1619 Project. Its goal is to redefine the American experiment as rooted not in liberty but in slavery. In this video, Wilfred Reilly, Associate Professor of Political Science at Kentucky State University, responds to The 1619 Project’s major claims.
Script: Have you heard of The 1619 Project? It was published by the New York Times in August of 2019. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2020. Its thesis: The United States was founded in 1619, when the first slave was brought to North America. Wait—that brings up some questions… What happened to 1776? To July 4th? The Declaration of Independence? George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison? According to The 1619 Project, the Founding Fathers pushed for all that “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” stuff to protect their slave holdings. Independence from England? That was just a smoke screen. To them, everything that’s wrong with America is tied to her “original sin” of slavery: from segregation to traffic jams (yes—traffic jams!). For The 1619 Project authors, racism is not a part of the American experience; it is the American experience. Is this true? Let’s look at three of the project’s major claims: 1. Preserving slavery was the real cause of the American Revolution. If you asked the Founders why they no longer wanted to be a British colony, they would have given you a long list of reasons: Taxation without representation, conflicts over debts from the French and Indian War, and the Stamp Act would be just a few. Probably most important was the burning desire to be free—to chart their own destiny as a sovereign nation. Protecting slavery? Slavery was not under threat from the British. In fact, Britain didn’t free the slaves in its overseas colonies until 1833—57 years later, after the Declaration of Independence. Yes, the subject of slavery was hotly debated at the Constitutional Convention, but that was after the war was won. 2. Slavery made America rich. Slavery made some Americans rich—true enough. Eli Yale, for example, made a fortune in the slave trade. He donated money and land for the university that is named after him. But the institution of slavery didn’t make America rich. In fact, the slave system badly slowed the economic development of half the country. As economist Thomas Sowell points out, in 1860, just one year before the Civil War began, the South had only one-sixth as many factories as the North. Almost 90% of the country’s skilled, well-paid laborers and professionals were based in the North. Banking, railroads, manufacturing—all were concentrated in the North. The South was an economic backwater. And the cost of abolishing slavery was enormous—not merely in terms of dollars (Lincoln borrowed billions to pay for it), but also in terms of human life: 360,000 Union soldiers died in order to free 4 million slaves. That works out to about one soldier in blue for every ten slaves freed. It’s hard to look at that butcher’s bill and conclude that the nation turned a profit from slavery. And many things have happened since 1865. In the almost 200 years since the Civil War, the population of the country has grown almost 900% and our national GDP has increased 12,000%. Slavery did not make America rich. 3. Racism is an unchangeable part of America. This argument is more philosophical than scholarly, but it undergirds the entire 1619 Project. It’s also pernicious because it suggests that the United States is an inherently racist country that can’t overcome its flaws. Yet that’s exactly what it’s done. Today, America is the most successful multi-racial country in history, the only white majority country to elect a black President—twice. Of course, progress has not always been smooth. There have been terrible setbacks. But to compare American attitudes about race today to America a hundred years ago, let alone to 1619, is absurd. For the complete script visit https://www.prageru.com/video/whats-w...
Be Brave - Nikki Haley
Free speech and intellectual freedom are the civil rights issues of our time. Are you ready to defend them? That’s the question that former US Ambassador Nikki Haley poses in this challenging video. This video was made possible by a generous grant from Colorado Christian University (CCU). PragerU subscribers may be eligible for a $1,000 scholarship for courses taken through CCU Online. Learn more at prageru.com/ccu.
Script: I know what it’s like to walk into a room where plain truth seems like a foreign concept. Where just speaking your mind can feel daunting. Where the founding principles of The United States of America are openly ridiculed. For two years, I served as the US Ambassador to the United Nations. Just to give you an idea of how strange things can get at the UN, consider that the Human Rights Council is dominated by some of the world’s worst human rights offenders—countries like China, Cuba, and Venezuela. True democracies, like Israel, are routinely abused. And America, the nation that has protected the God-given rights of hundreds of millions of people all over the globe, is openly criticized. Why am I telling you this? Because most college campuses have become as anti-American—which is to say morally backward—as the UN. And the only person who can set it right side up is you. If that sounds like I’m asking you to shoulder a heavy burden, that’s because I am. I wouldn’t be asking if I didn’t think you were up to it. I fully believe that you are. I’ve spoken at a lot of colleges. I’m convinced that most of the students still have a strong, intuitive love of our country. That’s why I’m optimistic about America’s future. But I know that it’s hard to speak out. I know the academic establishment is against you. I didn’t say this was going to be easy. It is, however, going to be necessary. So, what is it that I’m asking you to do? Be brave. Defend your right to speak out. Defend America. To your friends. In class. Around campus. Wherever you go. Speaking out doesn’t mean being rude and, of course, it never means resorting to violence. It means, having the facts and saying the truth with clarity and purpose. And, if you’re saying the truth, don’t back down, even if your classmates or professor—or, in my case, the representatives of 193 governments—try to make you look foolish. Defending America means you need to know American history. Given how poorly that history is taught these days, you might have to supplement your education. Start with the primary sources: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, George Washington’s farewell speech, the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s second inaugural. And build out from there. Discover America’s history for yourself. Make up your own mind. Always remember that you’re comparing America to reality, not to utopia. Also remember that you have to judge people in the context of their time, not by the standards of our time. If you do that, I have every confidence you’ll find yourself loving this country as much as I do. America has a great story to tell. But first you have to have the courage to tell it. What the fight for racial equality was to prior generations, the fight for free speech and intellectual freedom is to your generation. You are on the front line. You are the rebel. Never before, in my lifetime, can I remember when more Americans were as stifled or as constantly told what they’re allowed to think and what they’re allowed to say. And what are we allowed to say in America? What sorts of fashionable ideas are considered sophisticated by our top universities? So often, they’re the very same ones espoused by the thugs on the Human Rights Council: That America is racist, that capitalism—the only economic system to lift billions of people out of poverty—is the source of our problems, that socialism is bliss, that freedom of speech is not that important. These are very bad ideas. They’re also dead wrong. There is no question that America can and should improve. That’s the hard work we have in front of us. But the constant slandering of... For the complete script visit https://www.prageru.com/video/be-brave
What Is Big Green?
You hear lots of dire predictions these days -- the planet is burning, the seas are rising, and so on. But what is the real purpose of all this doom and gloom? Is it to protect the environment? Or is there a different motive? Rogan O’Handley, aka DC Draino, gets to the bottom of these questions in this important video.
Script: You've heard a lot about Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Tech, and all the other big bad players out there. I want to talk to you about the biggest, baddest one of them all. This Goliath doesn't deal in billions. It deals in trillions. I'm talking about… Big Green. Yes, the Environmental Movement. It's the richest, most powerful "Big" in the world right now. Nothing else even comes close. Until we see it for what is and reign it in, it's going to get even bigger. And as is usually the case, bigger is not always better. You see, Big Green wants to take over your life. It has to. This makes perfect sense. Big Green, after all, intends to save the planet from oblivion. Your freedom would seem to be a small price to pay. To accomplish its mission Big Green needs two things: Money. And power. It already has a lot of both. But it's hungry for much more. Who do we mean when we say Big Green? We mean the major organizations that set the agenda for the movement. This would include, among dozens: Greenpeace. 350.Org. Nature Conservancy. Sierra Club. World Wildlife Fund. And, of course, the politicians, bureaucrats, corporations, and media outlets who support and promote their agenda. Before we get any deeper into this, let's stipulate a few things. The climate is changing. It appears, though we can't be sure, to be slowly warming. If it continues to warm, it could cause serious environmental problems sometime in the distant future. Industrialization probably plays a role in this warming process. Reasonable people should be able to agree on this. Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi and Republican leader Newt Gingrich actually once sat down together and said as much in a public service ad they made in the 1990s. But Big Green has no interest in being reasonable. Reasonable doesn't get you money. Reasonable doesn't get you power. So, let's talk about the money. Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and Sierra Club all have financial assets in the $100 to $300 million-dollar range. Name a Fortune 500 company and chances are they're writing big checks to Big Green. Banking giant, Citigroup, for example, has committed $100 billion to "combat climate change." But the real money is at the government level. In 2009 the Obama Administration directed more than $110 billion to be spent on renewable energy "investments" under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act alone. What the taxpayer got for this investment other than long-forgotten $500 million-dollar boondoggles—like Solyndra—is hard to say. According to the best economic models, the Paris Climate Accord will cost the world $1 to 2 trillion every year. Total cost for The Green New Deal $52 trillion—minimum. But money is only a means to an end. The end is power. The power to transform society into what they think it should be. That's what this is really about. Here's how Saikat Chakrabarti, the architect of the Green New Deal described it to the Washington Post: "…it wasn't originally a climate thing at all…we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing." Maybe you like all this. That's fine. But don't pretend it's about protecting the environment. Chakrabarti was being honest. You should be, too. It's about transferring more and more power to the government—at every level: federal, state, local. And the way to get the power is to gin up scary scenarios. The planet is burning. The seas are rising. We're all going to be dead soon unless we listen to those masters of disaster, Al Gore, Bill McKibben, and Greta Thunberg. And what have all their horror stories led to? For the complete script visit https://www.prageru.com/video/what-is...
What I Can Teach You About Racism
Renowned political science professor Carol Swain started out life with every possible disadvantage. She ended up teaching at two of the most prestigious universities in the country. How did she do it? She shares her story and her wisdom in this inspiring video.
Script: Let me tell you how my story ends: I become a tenured, award-winning professor of political science at an Ivy League university and then at one of the leading universities in the South. Now let me tell you how my story begins: I grow up in rural Virginia literally dirt poor. I drop out of school in the eighth grade and have three children by the time I'm 20. I consider myself to be a reasonably modest person, but even I have to admit that's quite a journey. How did I do it? I worked hard. Not crazy, 24/7 hard. Just hard. I made good decisions. Not brilliant, three-dimensional chess decisions. Just good ones. I met people along the way who helped me and sincerely wanted to see me succeed, not because they had something to gain, but because they were decent people. Almost all of these individuals, by the way, were white. But mostly, I think I was blessed in one crucial way. I was born in America, a true land of opportunity for anyone of any color or background. In this country, where you start your life does not determine where you end up. That works in both directions, by the way. You can start out with every advantage and waste them all. Or start out with nothing and become a success. It all depends on you. Your attitude is far more important than your race, gender, or social class in determining what you will accomplish in life. When I hear young blacks, or anyone for that matter, talk about systemic racism, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I want to laugh because it's such nonsense. I want to cry because I know it's pushing untold numbers of young blacks into a dead end of self-pity and despair. Instead of seizing the amazing opportunities America offers them, they seize an excuse to explain why they're not succeeding. I was born into a world where systemic racism was real — no fooling, outright bigotry, back-of-the-bus real. But here's what you need to know: yes, that racism shaped the black experience, but even then it did not define it. Change was in the air. Call it systemic reform. The modern civil rights movement was in its infancy, and the leaders who fought for equal rights for blacks were men and women of all races. They believed in America and were determined to see it live up to its highest ideals — ideals manifest in the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution. Did I know growing up that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves? I don't think I ever thought about it. If I did, I'd like to think that I would have had enough common sense to know that we can't judge men who lived 250 years ago by the moral standards of our own day. But I know that Jefferson wrote the words in the Declaration of Independence that made slavery ultimately impossible; that all men are created equal. And, I know that Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, Adams, and the rest of the Founders risked everything to make my world, my America, possible. How could I not be grateful for that and for the sacrifices so many others have made to preserve it? The truth is, I cannot remember a time when I did not love America and feel pride in the belief that I live in the greatest country in the world. I knew if I diligently pursued my ambitions, I could leave the poverty of my early years, with all its abuse and depression, behind me. I was fortunate in another way. I was spared the life-sapping, negative messages about America that are crippling a generation of young people. These ideas are poison: White privilege. Whiteness as a form of property. Unconscious racism. Reparations. Microaggressions. Police have it out for blacks. That the United States was created to protect and promote slavery. These are the ideas young people are told they must accept. For the complete script visit https://www.prageru.com/video/what-i-...
How the Left Sees the World: Power, Race, and Class
How do those on the Left determine right from wrong? Since Marx, they’ve relied on a formula based on status, skin color, and wealth. But is that the way to reach a moral conclusion? Dennis Prager uses Israel and the United States to provide an illuminating perspective on this question.
Script: Why does the left hate Israel? On the surface, it doesn't make sense. Israel is a liberal democracy. It extends full rights to women, to gays, and to its many Arab citizens. Like all countries, which are made up of flawed human beings, Israel is flawed. But compared to most countries, not to mention its neighbors, it is a civil rights paradise. So, why does the left hate Israel? The reason is that the left — and as I always emphasize, I am talking about the left, not about liberals — is not guided by a moral compass. It is guided by three other compasses: A power compass, a race compass, and a class compass. Let's begin with the power compass. Instead of evaluating people and nations on the basis of right and wrong or good and evil, the left evaluates them on the basis of weak and strong. If you're weak, you're good. If you're strong, you're bad. Israel is strong. Therefore, it is bad. America is strong. Therefore it is bad. The Palestinians are regarded as weak. Therefore, they are good. When you are guided by a moral compass, you don't ask, "who's strong and who's weak?" You ask, "who's morally right and who's morally wrong?" Fifty years ago, Israel was not a big issue for the left. Why? Because it was perceived as weak. But after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel achieved a stunning military victory, it all changed. Israel became strong, so Israel became bad. And the Palestinians were weak, so they became good. So, no matter how much terror Palestinians engaged in — hijacking airplanes, murdering eleven Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Olympics, blowing up Israelis in pizza parlors and at weddings — the left's position never changed: Palestinians good. Israel bad. Because the Palestinians were weak. And Israel was strong. That's one of the three ways the left judges the world. You can test this theory in other ways. Why is the United States bad? Because it's strong. And Third World countries that oppose the United States are good. Cuba, for example, has been adored by the left for decades. Never mind that Cuba's communist party has ruined Cuba, that Cubans have no civil rights, and Cuba is one of the poorest countries in the world. Since Cuba is weak, to the left, Cuba is good. The same was true with North Vietnam in the 1960s. It was considered weak, so it was good. The US was strong, so it was bad. It didn't matter that America was trying to preserve the freedom of the South Vietnamese, exactly as it had preserved the freedom of the South Koreans. The US was strong. So it was bad. Which brings us back to Israel. The stronger Israel gets — as it effectively defends itself, as its economy grows, and its diplomatic position improves — the more the left hates it. The second of the left's compasses — the race compass — is another reason the left hates Israel. Just as it substitutes weak and strong for good and evil, the left substitutes non-white and white for good and evil. The left doesn't judge people by their actions, but by their race. That's why, for example, the left asserts that a black person cannot be a racist, only a white person can be s racist. And that provides the second reason Israel is labeled evil: Israelis are considered white and Palestinians are not white. Never mind that more than half of Israel's population is not white. The result: the left essentially ignores Palestinian terror and loudly condemns Israel's responses to terror.
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