The Continuing Legacy of “Separate but Equal”?
History of “Separate but Equal”
Disney’s 1946 movie “Song of the South” masked a thinly veiled racism that prevailed in the southern United States at the time. In the 1946 midterm elections, Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives representing the Southern United States lost not a single seat. Democrats in states outside of the “Solid South” were referred to as “liberals” by the media, a huge distortion of the true meaning of the word “liberal” as understood and practiced by our founding fathers. These so-called “liberals” lost in excess of 40% of their seats (55 House and 12 Senate seats), giving Republicans control of both houses of congress for the first time since the elections of 1928. The media also labeled Southern Democrat politicians “Conservatives”, a deception that continues today as “conservatives” are equated with “racists” by too many in the media. As equally deceptive a label was Democrat President Truman’s reference to the legislative branch as the “Do-nothing 80th Congress”.
In reality, the 80th Congress was highly accomplished, bearing legislative responsibility for the following:
- Congressional approval of the 22nd Amendment limiting the president to two terms;
- Passage of the Taft-Hartley Act that allowed states to adopt “right-to-work” rules, drove communists out of the labor movement, and generally established balance between labor and business in labor law;
- Passage of a major tax cut;
- Pressuring Truman into ending wartime economic regimentation;
- Enactment of the National Security Act of 1947, which established the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, the National Security Council and National Security Advisor, and the Central Intelligence Agency;
- Approval of the Marshall Plan (European Recovery Program) and aid to Greece and Turkey, the starting point of the policy of “containment” of Soviet Communism.
The 80th Congress left a legislative legacy that put in place the presidential power, the national security apparatus, the foreign policy framework, and the labor laws that defined American policy for the rest of the century.
During the short-lived Republican control of congress and thereafter, Democrats in the 17 southern states with institutionalized “separation laws” desperately held on to their so-called “separate but equal” facilities, including education, until the 1954 Supreme Court decision in “Brown vs. Board of Education”. Thus began the process of “racial reform” that continued through 1975, when a lawsuit was filed against the state of Mississippi for discrimination in its higher education funding. That particular lawsuit was finally settled in Mississippi a full 27 years later in 2002, directing $503 million to three historically black colleges over 17 years.
So we know that “separate but equal” does not work… never has… period, right? Well, not so much. Federal funding of education has been accompanied by an exponential rise in federal mandates on how education must be conducted, essentially the loss of the freedom of local schools to progress to be the best they can be. This from those lovers of federal government intrusion that call themselves “progressive”. To my way of thinking, the flat-lined outcomes of education over recent decades prove them to be, in fact, “Regressive”.
Additionally, Democrats and too many Republicans continue to apply the same philosophy in other areas… with equally as dismal results.
“Separate but Equal” Health Care?
The best examples of the fallacy of “Separate but Equal”, as regards health care, are perhaps the “unearned” entitlements promised by the Indian Health Service and Medicaid (including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Basic Health Program), the “partially earned” entitlements promised by the Affordable Care Act, the “mostly earned” entitlements promised by Medicare and Social Security, and the “fully-earned” entitlements promised by the Veterans Health Service. Let’s review each:
Unearned (61 million or 39%)
The Indian Health Service attempts to deliver health services to 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to 566 federally recognized tribes in 35 states.
Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program provide health insurance coverage to 31 million (half of) low-income children. Medicaid also provides health insurance coverage to 11 million non-elderly low income parents, other caretaker relatives, pregnant women (funding 40% of births), and other non-disabled adults. Lastly, Medicaid provides health insurance coverage to 8.8 million non-elderly individuals with disabilities, 4.6 million low-income seniors, and 3.7 million disabled seniors enrolled in Medicare.
The Affordable Care Act has added 3 million to the roles of Medicare and CHIP as of February, 2014.
Partially Earned (8 million or 5%)
The Affordable Care Act has signed up 8 million people for subsidized private insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Mostly Earned (73 million or 47%)
Medicare is essentially a “health insurance plan” mostly paid for by the 33 million recipients (60% are women) through payroll deductions.
Social Security is essentially a “retirement insurance plan” mostly paid for by the 40 million recipients through payroll deductions. Of the 40 million, 7 million early retirees and “young survivors” receive Social Security benefits.
Fully Earned (14 million or 9%)
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 5 million people are enrolled in private health care insurance plans that are required to meet the “standards” of the ACA. They are essentially subsidizing the Affordable Care Act.
The Veterans Health Administration attempts to deliver health services to 8.76 million Veterans from 1700 sites of care. These veterans earned the health services that they are provided with through their service in the United States armed forces.
9% of these so-called “entitlements” are fully earned; 47% are mostly earned; 5% are partially earned; and the remaining 39% are unearned.
As we know from the amount of ongoing scandals within the Indian Health Service and the Veterans Health Administration, federal government involvement in providing actual health services, whether to the Indian Health Service’s 1.2% “unearned” recipients or to Veterans Health Administration’s 5.6% “fully earned” recipients, is a recipe for disaster from economic, social, and medical perspectives. The main reasons these health services have NOT been discontinued is that they affect only 6.8% of the so-called “entitlement” receiving population, they apparently do not have effective lobbies in congress, and the recipients very likely fear complete abandonment, preferring to hold on to what they have, no matter how inefficient of ineffective.
It is time for these failed federal health delivery services to be discontinued and their assets, both physical and human, auctioned off to integrate such assets into our viable private health delivery system. The federal government may have an obligation to fund these entities but it is proven to lack the ability to manage the delivery of such services.
We don’t hire government employees to actually construct or reconstruct roads, bridges and streets, only to minimally regulate their construction and perform routine maintenance. We do it with private contractors. Why should we treat the health of our Native Americans and Veterans any different? Minimal regulation of our private medical delivery systems through the Food and Drug Administration, together with local public health agencies that provide disease and injury prevention information are all that is necessary or affordable!
Other “Separate but Equal” Failures?
The federal government’s intrusion (and sometimes outright obstruction) in the areas of transportation, energy, commerce, shipping, pipelines, and even charity, marital condition (LGBT “equal subsidy” activism would not have arisen if married people had not benefited from hundreds of preferential laws), political activity and other areas have to be discontinued.
Regulation, to provide an even playing field and public safety… by all means, YES! Subsidies to special interests, mandates, and exceptions that choose winners and losers, absolutely NO. Until Americans understand that “Separate but Equal” never works in any area of discussion, we are doomed to federal tyranny in the end.